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Hamid Sharif, Country Director Peoples Republic of China Resident Mission

11 September 2013, Beijing, PRC

Excellencies Mr. Han Jun and Mr. Liu Jiantong, distinguished delegates from the 13 countries from across Asia and the Pacific, partner agencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, Good Morning!

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), I would like to extend to all of you a very warm welcome to Beijing and to the Regional Seminar on Gender Equality in Secondary Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Skills for Employment. I would like to thank our Government counterparts for their cooperation and support for this important event. The theme of the Seminar currently has centre stage in development discourse in Asia and the Pacific. The region has enjoyed impressive economic growth rates over the past decade, but growth is now slowing with new and additional challenges of how to make growth sustainable and more inclusive.

The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and 1 do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this paper and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this paper do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.

Many countries in the region are now attempting to recalibrate their growth models to consolidate their positions in the global economy. An ADB publication just launched yesterday projects that the demand for unskilled labor will fall by 2020 and even more dramatically by 2030. I wish to share with you this table. The table demonstrates two points: (i) the demand for unskilled labor is falling for all of Asia by 2030. They will be negatively demand, meaning much more people will be unemployed; (ii) the rate of falling demand of unskilled labor is much higher for China. In another word, China has much less time than other countries for training workforce. The availability of a highly educated, skilled and technically qualified human resource base will be crucial for success. In the quest to gain market share in higher-order manufacturing and services,

governments and other stakeholders are paying close attention to developing the requisite technical and scientific capabilities together with a highly skilled human resource base. Later this morning, Mr. Han Jun in his keynote address will speak about how our host country, the Peoples Republic of China, is tackling this critical challenge. The Asia-Pacific region is a complex myriad of countries at different levels of economic development, diverse socio-cultural contexts, and at different stages of building their human capital base. Along with globalization, the region is experiencing increasing regional trade and integration. The region continues to experience steady economic growth, and it is estimated that, by 2050, Asia could account for more than 50% of the worlds GDP compared with 27% in 2010.

The continued growth of the manufacturing and services sectors, combined with the rapid pace of technological change, is resulting in the transformation of Asias labor market landscape and human resource and skills needs. This requires governments to have appropriate policies and incentives to deepen talent pools, and to expand access to market-relevant skills development for all segments of the population, especially disadvantaged and marginalized groups such as women and youth. There is increasing pressure to invest in better quality secondary education, new models of TVET provision and skills for employment to meet the demand for a work force which is highly responsive to evolving needs of a transforming market place. Developing TVET and skills for employment is a high priority for governments as they seek to achieve long-term sustainable growth. This means a re-engineered, modernized TVET system that supports innovative approaches to enhance the employability of workers as well as the sustainability of their livelihoods. Creative approaches to TVET design and delivery and skills training for employment is required to improve job prospects, cater to labor demands and meet the goals of inclusion and sustainable development. To achieve sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, all countries in the Asia-Pacific region recognize the need to invest in human capacity development through the general education system as well as technical and vocational education and training, and skills development programs. The chronic mismatch between skills acquired and skills required in the work place is one of the key challenges confronting all countries.

As the region moves beyond factory Asia to meet the challenges of a knowledge-based and technology-intensive global economy, skills development is taking center-stage in economic, industrial, education and skills development policies and programs. Increasingly, TVET and skills development is getting more attention for the potential opportunities it provides to disadvantaged groups, including women and girls, for improved job prospects, better-quality and more decent work with higher incomes ADB has recently embarked on a partnership with the PRC to support TVET through the Hunan Technical and Vocational Education and Training Demonstration Project approved in June 2013 and the Guangxi Nanning Vocational Education Development Project which is under preparation. Both projects are designed as demonstration projects for

potential replication in other provinces and aimed at (i) strengthening partnerships between TVET institutions and industries; (ii) broadening access to students in remote areas and (iii) addressing current skill shortages, especially in the areas of kindergarten teachers and nurses. Both projects have a strong focus on gender equality the cross-cutting theme of this workshop. Promoting and supporting gender equality and womens

empowerment are high on ADBs development agenda. ADB recognizes that without harnessing and unleashing the talents, human capital, and economic potential of women, the region risks significant economic and social costs. Some estimates suggest the region is losing more than $40 billion per year as a result of gender gaps in education and womens limited access to employment opportunities.

In countries such as India, Indonesia and Malaysia, the gross domestic product would increase by 2%-4% annually, if womens employment rates were raised to 70% from the current 30%. Gender equality is critical in its own right and essential for better development outcomes in terms of inclusive growth and faster poverty reduction. Hence, the three main themes of this Regional Seminar are: 1)

Improving access, equity and quality in secondary education; 2) Increasing girls options and labor market relevance of TVET; and 3) Promoting school to-work transition for young women through employable skills

development as critical building blocks for more inclusive growth and poverty alleviation, as well as for developing a labor force equipped with skills that match labor market needs. Another important theme of this Seminar is South-South cooperation. Peer-to-peer lateral learning is a key aspect of South-South cooperation. The PRC government and ADB have established more on a Regional Knowledge Sharing Initiative. We are very glad to see that the RKSI is sponsoring this event. This Regional Seminar has brought together tremendous resources and a knowledge base of nearly 100 experts from across the Asia Pacific region. Over the next three days, you will hear about a number of good practices and case studies of ADB-financed projects and partner agency experiences in the Asia Pacific region addressing critical gender equality issues in secondary education, TVET and skills for employment. I hope the Seminar will provide a platform for sharing experiences and learning from each other. Let us fully capitalize on this opportunity to make secondary education, TVET and skills for employment more gender inclusive.

I wish you a successful Seminar. Thank you.