Investment in education highly sought after in ASEAN

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There are two factors that make it interesting for players in the Gulf education industry to look at ASEAN as a potential investment destination.

By Arno Maierbrugger

First is the fact that the ten-country bloc will move closer and launch the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, by January 1, 2016 which will significantly ease labour movement within the region. This opens a lot of potential for various businesses, but will also bring higher competition between corporations that will be forced to hire more and better educated staff to stay at the forefront of their respective sectors.

The other factor is the quite unaligned skills level of ASEAN workforce. While countries such as Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia have a well-trained workforce, others still show serious deficits.

For example, former ASEAN Secretary-General said in a recent interview in the Bangkok Post that Thailand, his native country, will have to lose in contended mindset in regards to education, otherwise it will fail to catch up with fast pace of development in ASEAN. The Thai education system is focused on rote learning instead of competency in creating value by using technology, he said. Thailand invests little in research and development and science, just 0.2 per cent of its GDP, which is far less than Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and China. This lack of innovation has led Thailand to be “trapped” as a middle-income country, falling short of Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia, he argued, claiming for a reform of the education system, better providers to be set up and boost English proficiency which is exceptionally low in Thailand.

Concern rose also recently in the Philippines, when the Deputy Director of the National Economic and Development Authority, Emmanuel F. Esguerra, said that the Philippines will have to invest “heavily” on human capital in the years to come to meet its expected rapid growth figures. Esguerra said that the lack of workers with appropriate skills was a major challenge. He added that this was evident in industries that are knowledge-intensive and require a high degree of functional flexibility. He added that companies are feeling it increasingly difficult to fill vacancies among professionals including accountants and auditors, electronics and communications engineers, as well as systems analysts and designers.

Here is where education providers can step in and fill the gaps. Qatar, with its excellent education system and the ambitious developments such as Education City, is a definite source of quality education, and courses and classes not only in the mentioned fields would be happily embraced on location in Southeast Asia. Education providers could also focus on education in public administration as many ASEAN countries will have to improve and streamline their internal and external policies after the AEC comes into force and skilled public servants will be highly sought after.

This comment is Inside investor’s weekly contribution to Qatar’s leading newspaper Gulf Times and is published every Sunday.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

There are two factors that make it interesting for players in the Gulf education industry to look at ASEAN as a potential investment destination.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

There are two factors that make it interesting for players in the Gulf education industry to look at ASEAN as a potential investment destination.

By Arno Maierbrugger

First is the fact that the ten-country bloc will move closer and launch the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, by January 1, 2016 which will significantly ease labour movement within the region. This opens a lot of potential for various businesses, but will also bring higher competition between corporations that will be forced to hire more and better educated staff to stay at the forefront of their respective sectors.

The other factor is the quite unaligned skills level of ASEAN workforce. While countries such as Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia have a well-trained workforce, others still show serious deficits.

For example, former ASEAN Secretary-General said in a recent interview in the Bangkok Post that Thailand, his native country, will have to lose in contended mindset in regards to education, otherwise it will fail to catch up with fast pace of development in ASEAN. The Thai education system is focused on rote learning instead of competency in creating value by using technology, he said. Thailand invests little in research and development and science, just 0.2 per cent of its GDP, which is far less than Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and China. This lack of innovation has led Thailand to be “trapped” as a middle-income country, falling short of Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia, he argued, claiming for a reform of the education system, better providers to be set up and boost English proficiency which is exceptionally low in Thailand.

Concern rose also recently in the Philippines, when the Deputy Director of the National Economic and Development Authority, Emmanuel F. Esguerra, said that the Philippines will have to invest “heavily” on human capital in the years to come to meet its expected rapid growth figures. Esguerra said that the lack of workers with appropriate skills was a major challenge. He added that this was evident in industries that are knowledge-intensive and require a high degree of functional flexibility. He added that companies are feeling it increasingly difficult to fill vacancies among professionals including accountants and auditors, electronics and communications engineers, as well as systems analysts and designers.

Here is where education providers can step in and fill the gaps. Qatar, with its excellent education system and the ambitious developments such as Education City, is a definite source of quality education, and courses and classes not only in the mentioned fields would be happily embraced on location in Southeast Asia. Education providers could also focus on education in public administration as many ASEAN countries will have to improve and streamline their internal and external policies after the AEC comes into force and skilled public servants will be highly sought after.

This comment is Inside investor’s weekly contribution to Qatar’s leading newspaper Gulf Times and is published every Sunday.

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