fbpx 48250-001: Capacity Building for Developing Qualification Frameworks under the Mutual Recognition Agreements to Support the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 and Beyond | Asian Development Bank

Regional: Capacity Building for Developing Qualification Frameworks under the Mutual Recognition Agreements to Support the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 and Beyond

Sovereign (Public) Project | 48250-001 Status: Active

A key vision of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) is establishing a globally integrated and competitive single market and production base that generates better economic opportunities for the region's 600 million men and women. Free movement of workers will be central to realizing this vision. While the region has a long history of international labor mobility, this has mostly involved the movement of less-skilled workers, much of it undocumented. Out of an estimated 9.5 million migrants in the ASEAN region in 2013, around 70% were from within the region, of which around 87% were low-skilled workers. To more fully realize the gains from regional integration, it is important that labor mobility takes place under a more transparent, legal, and safe framework, and that it also extends to skilled workers.

Project Details

Project Officer
Elisabetta Gentile Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department Request for information
Country
  • Regional
Modality
  • Technical Assistance
Sector
  • Public sector management
 
Project Name Capacity Building for Developing Qualification Frameworks under the Mutual Recognition Agreements to Support the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 and Beyond
Project Number 48250-001
Country Regional
Project Status Active
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
TA 8881-REG: Capacity Building for Developing Qualification Frameworks under the Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) to Support ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 and Beyond
Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction US$ 1.20 million
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Regional integration
Drivers of Change Gender Equity and Mainstreaming
Governance and capacity development
Knowledge solutions
Partnerships
Private sector development
Sector / Subsector

Public sector management / Public administration

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Some gender elements
Description

A key vision of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) is establishing a globally integrated and competitive single market and production base that generates better economic opportunities for the region's 600 million men and women. Free movement of workers will be central to realizing this vision. While the region has a long history of international labor mobility, this has mostly involved the movement of less-skilled workers, much of it undocumented. Out of an estimated 9.5 million migrants in the ASEAN region in 2013, around 70% were from within the region, of which around 87% were low-skilled workers. To more fully realize the gains from regional integration, it is important that labor mobility takes place under a more transparent, legal, and safe framework, and that it also extends to skilled workers.

A promising way to progress toward these goals is to build on the AEC's aspiration of free movement of professionals under the mutual recognition agreements (MRAs). First, even though the occupations covered under the MRAs are skilled ones, their implementation can play a pivotal role in enabling ASEAN countries to better use their existing resources, including unskilled workers. For example, the absence of skilled professionals can be a constraint on the ability of lower-income economies abundant in less-skilled workers to attract capital and participate in the global economy. Second, the successful implementation of the current set of MRAs could present a model for expanding coverage to more occupations, including less-skilled ones. Over time, MRAs for lower- and medium-skilled occupations could be developed. Significantly, ASEAN policy makers recognize the benefits of an organized approach to labor mobility, as can partly be seen from the increasing number of bilateral and multilateral agreements to address the issue as well as commitments towards freer professional movement within the ambit of the AEC.

This technical assistance (TA) will support the implementation of the MRAs and, more broadly, the goals of the AEC. The TA is closely linked to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Midterm Review of Strategy 2020, especially on the theme of regional cooperation and integration, as the TA will (i) support the goal of the AEC, especially its first pillar involving free skill mobility; (ii) increase the competitiveness and productivity of countries and the region, thereby supporting the second generation of regional cooperation and integration; (iii) harmonize standards related to skill mobility across countries in the region; and (iv) promote trade and investment by facilitating skill mobility.

Moreover, the TA will also support the first pillar of the midterm review of Strategy 2020 on poverty reduction and inclusive growth, since greater integration of ASEAN economies is expected to result in higher economic growth and better utilization of human resources. This is because economic growth remains the main driver of poverty reduction in the region.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

Despite the clear aspirations to facilitate professional movement in the region, progress has, in general, been slow and uneven. From 2005 to 2012, ASEAN member governments signed MRAs in eight occupations (footnote 2), but implementation has been slow. This is in part due to the lack of overall vision and system to facilitate the movement of professionals through qualification frameworks at the national and ASEAN levels. At the national level, revising domestic policies and regulations to meet the provisions of the MRA has been difficult, and this is compounded by the fragmented responsibilities of numerous institutions at different subnational jurisdictional levels.

Results from the initial studies in preparing this TA indicate that ASEAN has been working with its member governments to develop the national qualification frameworks (NQFs) and the ASEAN Qualification Reference Framework (AQRF) that will form the basis for a professional movement system. It is important to note that the NQFs and the AQRF are live and dynamic documents that must be updated continuously following the latest developments in labor markets at national and international or regional levels. The frameworks should ultimately be developed for all occupations, including those under the MRAs, and be linked to education and/or training systems. The development of skills qualification frameworks relates directly to the development of national curricula, education, and human resources.

It is important to note that the full implementation of MRAs would still not guarantee professional movement since it would only enable professionals to register or obtain certification in a signatory country that is officially recognized in other signatory countries. Other factors that contribute to professional movement include demand and supply gaps; admissions policies; and the recruitment process, which is primarily controlled by the private sector. Therefore, the slow progress is attributable to the complexity of the issues and the absence of a dedicated system to facilitate freer professional movement. Without such a system in place, there is a risk that some countries will implement the MRAs inconsistently or, even worse, not at all.

To build such a system, a strong case has to be made for the benefits of mobility of skilled workers within the region in order to increase public support and enthusiasm for the implementation of the MRAs. Thus, a freer movement of professionals in the region will require cultivating support of key stakeholders, including not only different levels of government, but also business and civil society communities, local think tanks, and regulatory and professional bodies. This in turn requires rigorous and credible research analysis on the benefits of labor mobility and costs of inaction, and policy recommendations that are implementable.

Impact More coordinated and integrated ASEAN economies resulting in higher economic growth and more prosper region with reduced poverty
Project Outcome
Description of Outcome More efficient movement of professionals supported by better data and analysis, and enhanced capacity of key officials to implement the MRAs for the AEC.
Progress Toward Outcome

Ongoing activities:

1. Development of ASEAN Skilled-Labor Monitoring System (ASLMS). The system is an interactive database management and tracking system on the flows stocks, supply, and demand of skilled labor to 7 regulated professions under the ASEAN MRAs namely; (1) engineering services; (2) nursing services (3) architectural services; (4) surveying services; (5) medical practitioners; (6) dental practitioners; and (7) accounting services.

2. Preparation of a book entitled _Skilled Labour Mobility and Migration: Challenges and Opportunities for the ASEAN Economic Community_. This insightful book takes stock of the existing trends and patterns of skilled labor migration in the ASEAN. It endeavors to identify the likely winners and losers from the free movement of natural persons within the region through counterfactual policy simulations. Finally, it discusses existing issues and obstacles through case studies, as well as other sectoral examples.

3. Development of the Philippine Credit Transfer System (PCTS). The PCTS can be used for transfer, accumulation and mobility of students and professionals aligned with the ASEAN Referencing Qualification Framework. Specifically, the PCTS project will design a mechanism which gives a numerical value to learning outcomes and makes it easier to award academic credits. The mechanism to be developed should be designed and harmonized with different current mainstream systems that would be comparable with the existing ASEAN credit system.

Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

1. Studies on supply, demand and flows of professionals under the MRAs and their impacts.

2. Datasets and information system supporting the MRAs and AEC.

3. Comparative and thematic analysis on related issues.

4. Trained officials and enhanced capacity for developing the qualification frameworks for MRAs

5. Qualification frameworks of professionals in the participating countries and qualification reference frameworks of professionals at ASEAN level.

6. Publications from capacity buildings, policy dialogue, pilot and in-depth studies and other activities.

7. Capacity building programs in various forms

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)

ADB as the executing agency of the R-CDTA has been coordinating with the ASEAN Member States and facilitated the development of better systems and instruments for movement of professionals under the MRAs to support the AEC through various workshops and fora such as (1) Roundtable Conference of High-Level Experts Achieving Skill Mobility in the ASEAN Economic Community: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Implications, 11-12 May 2015; (2) Focus Group Discussions: Progress and Challenges in Recognizing Foreign Qualifications Manila, Philippines, September 2 3 2015 and Bali, Indonesia, September 26 27, 2015; (3) Bali Forum on Skill Mobility in ASEAN Progressing Towards the AEC and Charting a Post 2015 Vision at the National Level, September 28-29 2015, Bali, Indonesia; (4) Eminent Persons Forum: Maximizing Growth and Shared Prosperity under AEC by Progressing on Skills Mobility, 10-11 December 2015, Jakarta, Indonesia; (5) Inception Workshop on Capacity Building for Developing Qualification Frameworks under the Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) to Support the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 and Beyond, 11 12 February 2016, HQ Philippines; (6) Conference on Benefiting from Skill Mobility under the ASEAN Economic Community, 31 March 1 April 2016, HQ Philippines. In addition, the project sponsored four participants from ADB developing member countries to attend the Third Global Mayoral Conference on Human Mobility, Migration and Development held in Manila on 26 September 2016. More than 250 resource persons and participants have participated for these activities.

In 2016, the project drafted four research reports on the thematic issues of skills mobility, which were published in 2017, namely: (1) Open Windows, Closed Doors: Mutual Recognition Arrangements on Professional Services in the ASEAN Region; (2) Firing Up Regional Brain Networks: The Promise of Brain Circulation in the ASEAN Economic Community; (3) Reinventing Mutual Recognition Arrangements: Lessons from International Experiences and Insights for the ASEAN Region; and (4) The Long Road Ahead: Status Report on the Implementation of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangements on Professional Services.

2017 marked the remaining activities of the project namely; (1) Development of ASEAN Skilled-Labor Monitoring System (ASLMS); (2) Publication of the book entitled _killed Labour Mobility and Migration: Challenges and Opportunities for the ASEAN Economic Community; and (3) Development of the Philippine Credit Transfer System (PCTS) aligned with the ASEAN Referencing Qualification Framework.

Geographical Location Regional
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design
During Project Implementation
Responsible ADB Officer Elisabetta Gentile
Responsible ADB Department Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department
Responsible ADB Division Development Indicators and Policy Research Division
Executing Agencies
Asian Development Bank
6 ADB Avenue,
Mandaluyong City 1550, Philippines
Timetable
Concept Clearance 17 Aug 2014
Fact Finding 18 Aug 2014 to 04 Sep 2014
MRM -
Approval 06 Mar 2015
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 12 Mar 2018

TA 8881-REG

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
06 Mar 2015 - 06 Mar 2015 31 Dec 2018 31 Dec 2019 -
Financing Plan/TA Utilization Cumulative Disbursements
ADB Cofinancing Counterpart Total Date Amount
Gov Beneficiaries Project Sponsor Others
0.00 1,200,000.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1,200,000.00 06 Mar 2015 1,132,814.56

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Tenders

Tender Title Type Status Posting Date Deadline
Capacity Building for Developing Qualification Frameworks under the Mutual Recognition Agreements to Support the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 and Beyond Individual - Consulting Closed 15 Nov 2017 19 Nov 2017

Contracts Awarded

No contracts awarded for this project were found

Procurement Plan

None currently available.