Lessons on Bridging the Future Skills Gap

Engineers learn how to install solar panels at PEKA SINERGI in Indonesia. Photo credit: PEKA SINERGI

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Cross-sectoral collaboration is essential to tackle the demand for new skill sets in the future.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution, seen potentially wiping out up to 50% of jobs that can be replaced by machines, is paving the way for cross-sectoral collaborations among institutions to hone new skills sets for future demand.

Key Findings

In the face of rapid digitization, automation, innovation, and globalization, workers must live and breathe digitalization, be flexible, and tackle challenges with creativity and vision. However, the educational system is unable to keep pace with technological innovations, raising concern of a growing skills-gap crisis.

At the Asian Development Bank’s 7th International Skills Forum, institutions around the world demonstrated that there is a solution to the skills gap: cross-sectoral collaboration.

Specialized training certification

As the largest energy consumer in the ASEAN region, Indonesia is faced with the challenge of generating enough electricity as consumption is expected to triple by 2030. The country plans to harness its abundant renewable energy resources by investing over US$1 billion in mini- and off-grid renewable energy solutions such as installing solar panels in remote areas.

However, lack of skilled labor and expertise has led to operational problems and system failures. This led to the creation of PEKA SINERGI in September 2015, which aims to develop competency standards for professionals in four renewable energy fields (solar, wind, hydro, biomass) and pilot competency-based training and certification.

Funded by the Green Knowledge Grant under the Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia, the project has so far led to the establishment of 11 PEKA SINERGI schools that can train students for jobs in the RET workforce. PEKA SINERGI is currently on the lookout for regional partners to align competency standards.

Public-private-academe partnership

Thailand’s aging population is raising demand for workers with new skill sets in providing care for elderly dependents. As of 2015, there were about 7.25 million Thais aged 65 or older, accounting for 10.6% of the total population. By 2022, Thailand will be in the realm of an “aged society,” which means elderly people will account for more than 14% of the total population, by United Nations definition.

In 2016, the Thai government undertook a process to create a caregiving system as a result of collaboration among the Thai ministries of Public Health, Social Development and Human Security, Education and Labor, with the academe and the private sector. Regulations and standards are also expected to be enacted in the caregiving sector and workforce training will be enhanced as a result of the collaboration.

Research collaboration

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the national association of more than 130 publicly funded colleges, polytechnics, and specialized institutes in Canada that reach 1.5 million learners per year in over 3,000 Canadian communities.

CICan currently has over 55 applied research projects related to the agri-food sector in colleges and institutes across Canada. These were all forged in collaboration with local businesses, mostly small and medium enterprises.

In addition, CICan has international projects in the agriculture sector, namely in Cambodia (sustainable rice-fish integration), Viet Nam (which enabled 13,000 students to land jobs), Brazil (vegetable growing and value chain management for disadvantaged women), and Belize (agriculture training).

Cross-country exchanges

The European Training Foundation (ETF) is a European Union agency that helps transition and developing countries harness the potential of their human capital through education, training and labor market systems. Based in Turin, Italy, the ETF has been operational since 1994.

As part of its programs, ETF organizes the European Vocational Skills Week, a series of events all over Europe to improve the attractiveness and image of vocational education and training. The initiative is part of ETF’s commitment to share country examples to tackle youth unemployment and raise employability among young people. Cross-country exchanges and presentation of best practices enable ETF to help its partners implement policies and programs for upgrading skills.


As private entities and institutions reevaluate their role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is a growing bandwagon realizing the value of engaging with one another, both within and across different sectors.

Nathan Hart
Project Manager, Peka Sinergi

Nathan Hart is project manager at Peka Sinergi in Indonesia.

Cesare Onestini
Director, European Training Foundation

Before joining the ETF, Cesare Onestini was Deputy Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Bhutan and India. He has worked for the European institutions on the promotion of cooperation in education and training, developed projects for intercultural education, and coordinated school partnerships and teachers' mobility across EU member states. He has also worked for the EU in external relations, international trade, security, and crisis management.

Alain Roy
Vice President for International Partnerships, Colleges and Institutes Canada

Alain Roy is vice president for International Partnerships, at Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) responsible for the development and administration of CICan’s international institutional partnership programs for its members.

Dr. Siriphan Sasat
Associate Professor, Chulalongkorn University

Dr. Siriphan Sasat is Associate Professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.  

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