ASEAN Skilled Labor Market Integration Still Hampered by Protectionism

Wahyu Dwi Anggoro    •    Jumat, 11 Dec 2015 17:54 WIB
asean economic community
ASEAN Skilled Labor Market Integration Still Hampered by Protectionism
Illustration (Photo: Setkab)

Metrotvnews.com, Jakarta: Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) still implement protectionist policies to their labor markets despite the implementation of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) that will be launched in the end of this year.
 
The situation was revealed in Eminent Persons Forum held by Asian Development Bank (ADB) in December 10 and 11 in Jakarta.
 
"In the last ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, ASEAN published reports that showed ASEAN countries has implemented 92.7% of High Priority Measures (HPM) listed in the AEC Blueprint. The remaining 7.3% is not yet implemented. This remaining 7.3% includes difficult measures like skills mobility," said ADB Senior Economist Guntur Hariyanto in a press conference in Jakarta, Friday (12/11/2015).
 
Guntur explained one of the issues to implement skills mobility is the lack of certainty. Although all ASEAN countries has agreed AEC which included the freedom of labor mobility, there is still confusion in national level about the way to achieve it.
 
"There are various interpretations about the agreement. Labour market information in each ASEAN country is also not clear," Guntur explained.
 
Another issue is strong believe among officials that free labor market will threaten their local workers. The assumption is held by officials in all ASEAN Countries.
 
"Previously i thought only Indonesian officials who have such assumption. But after i had discussion with colleagues from other ASEAN countries. They also have the same issue," said Indonesia's National Agency for Professional Certification (BNSP) Sumarna Abdurahman, who participated in the forum.
 
ASEAN actually has issued agreement called Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) to smoothen skills mobility between ASEAN countries. Each ASEAN countries has different standards and certifications for its skilled workers. The purpose of the MRA is to facilitate the difference so skilled workers from one country could be acknowledged by other countries. 
 
The MRA have been made for eight kinds of professionals namely engineering, architecture, accountancy, land surveying, nursing, medical practitioners, dental practitioners and professionals in tourism sector.
 
"However, domestic policies are still the most important for skills mobility in ASEAN," Guntur said.
 
Guntur revealed ADB is trying to change the mindset of the officials regarding skills mobility. "But the approach must be done gradually. It is not something that could change overnight," he concluded.



(WAH)

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