Mutual recognition of skills

6th Regional Skills Technical Working Group Meeting

ASEAN Skills Recognition Initiatives and Collaboration: Contributing to the human resources development in ASEAN

With support from the ILO/Korea Partnership Programme, the Regional Skills Technical Working Group meetings have been a forum for regional dialogue and mutual learning for the ASEAN Member States to progress on the mutual recognition of skills which focuses on low-to-middle skilled workers and responds to the ASEAN Economic Community’s vision of achieving the free flow of skilled workers and designed to complement the Mutual Recognition Arrangements.

The 6th Regional Skills Technical Working Group Meeting was held on 8-9 March 2022 and co-hosted by the ASEAN TVET Council with collaboration from the ASEAN Member States and ASEAN Secretariat. The meeting was premised on the understanding that ASEAN Member States have reached a point in building a consensus on a pathway towards enhancing mechanisms for skills recognition to achieve impact in ASEAN through collaboration.

The objective of the Meeting is to advance ASEAN’s efforts on skills recognition by facilitating deeper synergy and cooperation among the various initiatives through dialogue, arriving at an agreement to develop a common and more coherent framework that supports a pathway towards sustained joint actions. In the light of the challenges propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of regional mobility and the challenges to skills recognition pertinent to migrant workers calls upon and necessitates a multi-angular approach and dialogue. Some common findings and learning experience were identified as the next set of strategies that promote labour mobility.
  • Easing of immigration restrictions or requirements.
  • Mutual recognition of qualifications is a long-term task and preferable for involved parties to develop deep understanding of the qualifications in the respective countries, maintain close cooperation and communication with related industry associations, and reflect on the legal system.
  • Strengthen access to overseas labour markets.
At the 6th Regional Skills Technical Working Group Meeting, recommendations were made for the ILO to continue assisting the ASEAN Member States to progress the comparability model of skills recognition through the seven steps of the MRS Roadmap. The model is essentially demonstrating comparability between the national skills standards, testing and certification between participating AMS to provide basis for mutual recognition of skills in pilot occupations. The other models, in partnership with the sectoral bodies, were also recommended for further exploration are: a model that uses international standards such as ISO certification standards and a model that uses a regional application of the World Skills Occupational Standards and the marking system of test projects in the ASEAN Skills Competition Standards and skills assessment and certification system in applicable trade areas.

Madame Rosanna Urdaneta, Deputy Director General for Policies and Planning of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Philippines), mentioned in closing that “pursuing the mutual recognition of skills is a challenge and tedious task, however, looking at the benefits that will be reaped by the ASEAN Member States, this task outweighs the costs and challenges. ASEAN Member States are in the same collective resolve to pursue the recognition of qualification given its importance in providing a manageable, transparent and safe channel for workers’ mobility in the region”. The work of the Mutual Recognition of Skills in ASEAN can be forwarded by the ASEAN TVET Council Work Plan which has identified the ‘promotion of the mutual recognition of skills’ as a key result area.