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ADB, PRC Help Mekong Countries Address Human Resource Development Concerns

News Release | 8 June 2009

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and People's Republic of China (PRC) are helping countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) address human resource development issues such as migrant labor concerns, cross-border recognition of technical skills and social inclusion.

ADB has approved a $750,000 grant from its Regional Cooperation and Integration Fund for technical assistance to support GMS countries carry out a strategic framework and action plan for human resource development in the sub-region. Cofinancing of $500,000 is being provided by the PRC's Poverty Reduction and Regional Cooperation Fund, administered by ADB. A further $150,000 worth of in-kind contributions will come from the participating GMS countries themselves.

Since the GMS drew up its 2002 to 2012 strategic framework, it has made huge strides in improving cross-border transport connections, giving trade and tourism a major boost. A midterm review, however, recommended that more emphasis be put on human resource development issues including skills development, labor migration, the prevention of trafficking of women and children, and the surveillance and control of communicable diseases.

The technical assistance will help to restructure and strengthen the capacity of the GMS working group and subsector working groups that oversee human resource development.It will include specific interventions such as social assessments that evaluate the impact of increased physical and economic integration on vulnerable groups including women and ethnic minority groups. It will also support the development and piloting of a framework to mutually recognize several key technical skills and qualifications across the sub-region. At present, technical skills development training programs in GMS countries are not closely aligned, with qualifications not mutually recognized across the sub-region.

"Technical and vocational education and training systems need to be better aligned with regional skill demands and qualifications need to be recognized across the region," said Susan Kerr, Principal Human Resource Development Specialist with ADB's Southeast Asia Department.

GMS countries are Cambodia, PRC, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. About 325 million people live within the GMS region, which has a land area of 2.6 million square kilometers.