Harnessing Partnerships For Success - Taylor's Contributes to Ideas for Developing the Workforce Across ASEAN

Wilton Park is the British government’s international centre for thought-leadership, and a Professor Perry Hobson from Taylor’s University was invited to be part of their Malaysian education dialogue event with Ministers and senior leaders from across ASEAN.

Developing a skilled workforce is a challenge facing all countries in South East Asia, but looking at ways to develop and harness international partnerships might offer some potential solutions. Wilton Park is a not-for-profit executive agency of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office that is focused on bringing people together to find solutions to complex problems. Wilton Park’s reputation as a world leading discussion centre has grown over nearly seven decades, as they continue to pursue their objective and addressing and resolving global challenges.

Typically, Wilton Park organises events in the UK, bringing together leading representatives from the worlds of politics, diplomacy, academia, business, civil society, the military and the media. Given the challenges facing education in Asia, Wilton Park organised a thought-leadership dialogue in Kuala Lumpur entitled ‘Building a skilled workforce in South East Asia: harnessing partnerships for success’. The event was supported by the UK’s “Education is GREAT” campaign in Malaysia, and organised in collaboration with the British High Commission. It was led by Ms. Robin Hart, who is Wilton Park’s ‘Sir Heinz Koeppler Fellow’. She brought together some 60 thought-leaders including government Ministers from across the ASEAN region (such as Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar), along with UK colleagues for an interactive discussion on how Asian countries can best prepare the next generation workforce and provide the skills and training required. The event was opened by Dato’ Seri Idris Jusoh, the Malaysian Minister for Higher Education.

Professor Perry Hobson, the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement at Taylor’s University, was also one of the participants invited. A particular focus of the discussions was on developing collaboration between schools, universities and industry in a ‘whole of education’ approach through the promotion of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and TVET (technical and vocational education and training). As Professor Hobson commented, “one the biggest challenges we are all facing relates to the fact that TVET has such low-status in the ASEAN” but adding that, “another reality is that the rapid arrival of technology means many of today’s jobs simply won’t exist in the future, and so constantly upskilling people is going to be increasingly necessary”.