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Youths Need More Skills To Thrive in Asean, Analyst Says

"Youth and ASEAN Integration" forum which was organized in Phnom Penh on Sunday 16th November 2014. (Photo by Say Mony).

As Asean heads toward economic integration, the younger generations will need more skills to compete, an Asean expert says. There will be more opportunities region-wide, but more competition, as well.

“They should foresee their future, with regional jobs outside the country, rather than just opportunities inside the country,” Seang Sopagna, head of the Cambodia-Asean International Institute, said in an interview. “But they should be equipped with more capacity, in order for them to compete.”

Asean’s 10 member countries are working toward creating a regional bloc that would open up a free flow of goods and services across the region, much of it by the end of this year. Cambodia is one of the least developed countries in Asean.

Seang Sopagna said Asean’s integration is meant for the next generation. “So our youths should understand what the leaders are doing and what they should do to obtain that heritage.”

Asean’s combined GDP is around $3 trillion, he said, the sixth-largest economy in the world. With trade happening within the bloc and outside it, there’s a lot of potential, he said.

In order to compete, the younger generations will need skills in engineering, accounting, medicine, land surveying, science, English and other languages, he said.

He encouraged students to stick with their studies, for Cambodia will face a lot of competition when the region joins, as will the other developing nations within it, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.