Achieving Skill Mobility in the ASEAN Economic Community: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Implications

Publication | February 2016

ASEAN member states face challenges in achieving greater mobility for the highly skilled, including hurdles in recognizing professional qualifications, and opening up access to certain jobs.

Download(Free : 2 available)
  • US$18.00 (paperback)

Despite clear aspirations by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to create an effective and transparent framework to facilitate movements among skilled professionals within the ASEAN by December 2015, progress has been slow and uneven.

Way forward

It is critical to lay out a realistic roadmap toward freer movement for the citizens of ASEAN for the next decade and beyond. This will involve a two-pronged strategy.

First, ASEAN Member States need to cooperate in the short to medium term to fully address the immediate challenges in recognizing the qualifications of mobile professionals and increase their access to the region’s labor market.

Second, governments should also take a longer-term view by investing in national training and education systems that prepare workers in accordance with common ASEAN-wide standards. 

About this report

This report examines the challenges ASEAN member states face in achieving the goal of greater mobility for the highly skilled, including hurdles in recognizing professional qualifications, opening up access to certain jobs, and a limited willingness by professionals to move due to perceived cultural, language, and socioeconomic differences. The cost of these barriers is staggering and could reduce the region’s competitiveness in the global market

This report launches a multiyear effort by ADB and the Migration Policy Institute to better understand the issues and develop strategies to gradually overcome the problems. It offers a range of policy recommendations that have been discussed among experts in a high-level expert meeting, taking into account best practices locally and across the region.


  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • High-Skilled Mobility in the ASEAN Region: Where Are We Today?
  • Managing the Flow of Skilled Labor in ASEAN: Progress and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond
  • Opportunities for Reform: Building Greater Regional Cooperation on Education and Mobility
  • Building a More Competitive ASEAN and Investing in Human Capital
  • Conclusion
  • Appendixes

Additional Details

  • Regional cooperation and integration
  • Social development and protection
  • Migration, trafficking, and human mobility
  • Social protection - labor and employment
  • 32
  • 8.5 x 11
  • RPT157644-2
  • 978-92-9257-117-7 (print)
  • 978-92-9257-118-4 (electronic)

Subscribe to our monthly digest of latest ADB publications.

Follow ADB Publications on social media.