ASEAN Regional Dialogue Unveils Unified Strategy for Youth Development
Led by ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC), ILO, and UNICEF, the ASEAN regional dialogue convened diverse stakeholders to discuss skills, employability and work-transition for region’s young people.
Jakarta, Indonesia – The ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC), UNICEF, and International Labour Organization (ILO), with support from UNDP, UNESCO, and UN Women, organized on October 17-18 the “Breaking Barriers, Building Futures: ASEAN Regional Dialogue on Young People’s Skills, Employability and Transition to Decent Work”. The Regional Dialogue served as a cross-sectoral, intergenerational, and multi-stakeholder knowledge exchange platform. Focused on young people’s learning and skills, employability and transition to decent work in ASEAN, it explored pathways for green and digital skills and jobs, and bridging gender gaps. The event brought together more than 150 representatives from governments, UN agencies, young people, the private sector and workers and employers’ organisations and 31 young people from all ASEAN Member States1 and Timor-Leste. Young leaders participated as speakers, delegates, rapporteurs, and reactors, highlighting the skills and jobs they need in a rapidly changing work environment.
Generation Unlimited (GenU) convened a panel on “Building Tomorrow, Today: Cultivating public-private-youth partnerships for young people’s skills, employability and transition to decent work.” GenU has had significant traction in the East Asia region where there are both major youth employment challenges at the same time as high potential opportunities for greater private sector and youth engagement. Advocating for Public-Private-Youth partnerships (PPYPs) on the skills and transition to decent work agenda, the session unpacked the value of, and approaches to building multistakeholder collaboration.
Moderated by Urmila Sarkar, Deputy Director, Generation Unlimited, the panel featured Eugene Ho, Global CSR Director, SAP; Sharon Son, Deputy Director, National Youth Council (NYC) Singapore; Saje Molato, CEO and Founder, Siklab Pilipinas; Nia Sarinsatiti, Accenture Development Partners Lead, Accenture Indonesia and Ilan Asqolani, Project Manager at ASEAN Foundation.
Commenting on the challenges in engaging young people in governance, Saje Molato shared “In my travels across Philippines, I met with over 2000 youth and most expressed their interest to work for the government rather than with the government. It presents the need to sensitize young people and change their perception, alongside working with decision makers to underscore the relevance of engaging youth voices.”
Providing insights into Singapore’s National Youth Council’s youth-centric approach to youth development and program design, Sharon Son said “Both sentiment surveys and longitudinal studies are utilized to gather data and insights from young people, to understand the challenges they face and their sentiments regarding various issues. This helps us to create an evidence-based approach that ensure that strategies and programmes resonate with the needs and aspirations of the youth. Various engagement platforms and co-creation avenues such as Youth Action Challenge, Youth Panels, are set up to encourage youths to discuss, and take action on these issues.”
Highlighting the significance of public-private partnerships across the 10 ASEAN countries, Ilan Asqolani opined “It is recognized that while governments may establish policies and regulations, they may lack the capacity to effectively implement programs. Private sectors and various stakeholders, including the ASEAN Foundation, play a crucial role in bridging this gap and ensuring that policies are translated into effective programs.”
Sharing his experiences related to public-private partnerships within the context of the skills and transition to decent work agenda, particularly in Southeast Asia, Eugene Ho shared “We have large scale partnerships delivering to different aspects of the learning to earning agenda. To quote an example, in the Philippines, we are working with Generation Unlimited and different local stakeholders in the selected priority areas including the city government, the Department of Labor, and vocational training institutions, on a program addressing young people’s educational and employment needs. To ensure relevance and reflection of young people’s priorities, youth have also been in the program's design and implementation.”
Speaking to the concept of 'Penta Helix' - which in the context of youth represents a multidimensional collaboration involving the public and private sectors, young people, NGOs, and media - Nia Sarinastiti underscored the role of partnerships in addressing the skills gap and gender inclusivity, particularly in digital literacy, stating “We need to embrace the ever-evolving work landscape and changes to skilling and employment opportunities it has spurred. In collaboration with UNICEF and other partners, we at Accenture, are aiming to skill 10 million young people across 10 countries, in digital literacy and financial productivity. These skills that are especially relevant in current times, and as such, partnerships are key to preparing the future workforce for the evolving job market at speed, and scale.”
The session demonstrated the value of PPYPs, underscoring the role of these cross-sector and multi-stakeholder platforms in accelerating impact at scale. It also provided a space to share good practice and recommendations for catalyzing partnerships on youth skills, employability and decent work in ASEAN.
Across the sessions at Regional Dialogue, gender equality, green and digital skills and jobs featured prominently in all discussions. A joint recommendation was issued from the Dialogue, highlighting the need for increased collaborations, including with the private sector and young people themselves, to advance equal opportunities for the region’s youth. National commitments to advance pathways for green and digital skills and livelihoods and to bridge gender gaps through Public-Private-Youth partnership were adopted, which will support advancement of related policy implementation and programmes
The event was endorsed by the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth as an initiative under the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2021-2025 and ILO-ASEAN Work Programme 2022-2025.