09:32 | 06/05/2019 Vietnam - Asean
(VEN) - A number of political, socio-cultural and language barriers are hindering labor mobility among the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) despite the agreements put in place to facilitate the movement of skilled professionals in the region.
Provisions for skilled labor movement within ASEAN are set out in Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs), which allow for recognition of workers’ skills, experience, and accreditation, permitting them to work outside their home countries.
To promote MRA implementation, ASEAN developed a Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) that enables comparisons of education qualifications across participating ASEAN Member States (AMS), ratified by ASEAN economic, education and labor ministers in 2015.
Member countries have adopted MRAs in eight areas - medical practitioners, dental practitioners, nursing services, engineering services, architectural services, accountancy services, surveying qualifications and tourism professionals. However, job opportunities in those eight areas account for just a small part of all employment opportunities available throughout ASEAN. In addition, workers with lower skills have a hard time accessing such job opportunities.
Akiko Sakamoto, Senior Skills and Employability Specialist at the International Labor Organization (ILO) said the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) allows labor mobility professionals, but each industry has its own conditions on which countries have to agree for mutual recognition. There is still a gap between national qualification frameworks, while labor mobility within the region is still hindered by member countries’ protection measures, she said. After overcoming skill barriers, workers must overcome technical barriers and meet the labor market demand in specific countries, Akiko Sakamoto said.
Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha said Vietnam’s National Qualification Framework on eight levels was approved by the Prime Minister in October 2016. Implementation of the framework is facing challenges, including those related to the time and resources required, quality control system development and participation of employers and related parties, Ha said.
Experts have suggested initiatives to promote efficient implementation of MRAs, including establishment of a National Commission for AQRF in Vietnam and a National Certification Council, increasing the number of national qualification assessors, and adoption of policies to welcome foreign workers and protect domestic ones.
Efficient implementation of MRAs is expected to pave the way for skilled Vietnamese workers to find well-paid jobs
and good working conditions in ASEAN countries.