Challenges associated with the ‘work-readiness’ of vocational (VE) and higher education (HE) business graduates are identified by governments, industry and educational institutions across APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) countries as significant constraints on future economic development. It has often been assumed that the work-readiness challenge is confined to Australia, but further exploration of the issues suggests that it is prevalent in most (if not all) regional countries. For example, researchers have suggested that China has a significant problem in this regard – ‘many potential employers felt that there was “a significant gap between what they seek and what Chinese graduates trained overseas (as well as home students) possess”’. Deficiencies identified included: a serious lack of actual work experience; limited knowledge of the European and American legal and administrative systems; an inability to deal with the financial aspects of mergers and acquisitions; inadequate English fluency and overall oral skills; lack of leadership competencies, undeveloped innovative and creative capacities; and importantly, an absence of ‘lateral thought and concept synthesis’. Reportedly, Indian employers are keen to employ only 25 per cent of Indian graduates due to their perceived lack of necessary training, language skills, and cultural awareness, applicant inexperience, undeveloped linguistic competencies, and poor interpersonal and leadership skills. Researchers have found evidence of similar difficulties in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan.
In Vietnam, Hoe found that two thirds of potential Vietnamese employees lack work-ready competencies and that three quarters are currently in ‘uncertain jobs with low income’. A 2012 World Bank survey estimated that two thirds of foreign-owned enterprises had experienced lower productivity due to an absence of skilled workers, whilst another study claimed that more than eighty per cent of employees lacked work experience, or seventy per cent lacked adequate qualifications. In addition, the Ministry of Labor in Taiwan (with APEC funding), is attempting to address its work-readiness challenges by promoting mutual recognition of national skill certificates and the development of unified competence standards. Consequently, the research study underpinning this paper aims to identify how to improve transitions from education to employment through a two-stage process:
1. analysing the nature of these challenges by creating an ongoing dialogue with VE/HE educational institutions, governments and industry in six APEC nations (Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia) and
2. proposing collaborative practical frameworks/networks to address the challenges through revised educational strategies concerning industry and government programs in the Asia-Pacific region.
The six country comparative study on work readiness will be the overarching methodological approach of the research project which will be conducted over three phases. Phase 1 will involve a scoping study of policy challenges and developments across partner countries. Phase 2 will involve representative case studies across the partner countries. Phase 3 will culminate in a research workshop which will be held to analyse Phase 2 findings, and to develop, industry, national and integrated reports, along with education strategies and policies.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Enhancing work-readiness of vocational and higher education graduates: Asia-Pacific region
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