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Asian Development Bank: Asian Development Outlook 2008

Asian Development Bank, Asian Development Outlook 2008, Books, Periodicals, Studies, and Reports. ISSN: 0117-0481

The annual Asian Development Outlook provides a comprehensive economic analysis of 44 economies in developing Asia and the Pacific. This 20th anniversary edition examines trends and prospects in Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. This year’s theme on workers in developing Asia spotlights three issues. Will the region reap the demographic advantages of its many young people about to enter the workforce? Can it resolve its silent crisis in terms of its skills shortages? Third, with migration burgeoning within the region, will policies move to keep up with the reality on the ground?

A part of this publication, Asia’s Skills Crisis, focuses on Higher Education. According to this study, tertiary education in Malaysia and Thailand, like the Philippines, lags in graduating people with relevant skills. Malaysian graduates tend to have weak skills, precisely in those areas needed most by the knowledge-based economy where (Kuala Lumpur) seeks to direct its efforts. The region’s universities have to do more than produce a high number of graduates, the study stresses, they must turn out graduates able to perform tasks required by modernising economies.

Ireland is catching Asian policy makers’ attention today. Ireland’s successful reinvention of itself as a high-tech economy illustrates the large rewards of a demand-based education system. The key lesson from the Irish experience is: a flexible and adaptable education policy is critical for aligning the system to the needs of industry. The study also offers a range of immediate solutions. These range from admitting highly-skilled women into the labour force, to raising the retirement age, to giving fiscal incentives for firms to train their workers.

Asian Development Bank