Asian economies are very dynamic and expected to experience steady development in the coming years; this has been coupled with constant progress in terms of education enrolment and employment rates. However, there are still significant social challenges in these countries, especially amongst vulnerable populations including youth, women, rural communities, and ethnic minorities. As the UNESCAP puts it: « significant numbers of youth in the region still face obstacles in their access to sustainable livelihoods because of employment, education and health-care challenges. The transition from education to employment is one of the main obstacles facing youth, especially those from South and South-West Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific.1 ». Asia and the Pacific have more than 700 million young people, who represent 60% of the world’s youth. According to ILO, while only 20 per cent of the region’s workers are aged between 15 and 24, young people account for almost half the Asia-Pacific’s jobless. Among the 300 million young people who do have a job, many are in vulnerable employment and have therefore limited access to sustainable livelihood.
Simultaneously, in 2017, tourism directly supported 14,5 million jobs in the region (close to 5% of total employment), and this number is expected to increase by 38,6% by 20282. The fast-growing tourism sector can become a strong social and economic inclusion lever for vulnerable populations, as long as they are provided with the necessary productive and transversal skills, and sustainable employment opportunities. This is also a pressing challenge for the tourism industry as it is estimated that the sector will be suffering from an 8 million labor shortage in Southeast Asia in the coming years. This talent deficit creates a big risk for the sector and the global economy.
Hence the following question:
How can we use the touristic boom that Southeast Asian countries experience as a lever for the social and economic inclusion of disadvantaged populations?
Bridging this gap is the mission currently pursued by many vocational training centers throughout the region, which gathered into the ASSET-H&C network.
ASSET-H&C is the Association of Southeast Asian Social Enterprises for Training in Hospitality & Catering. This network brings together vocational training centers across the region willing to work hand in hand to better fulfill their common social mission: bringing positive change in the lives of vulnerable youth and adults by teaching them trades that will allow them to successfully integrate into society.
ASSET-H&C’s mission, as a network, is to gather and facilitate experience and expertise exchanges between member schools; to help them build solid and sustainable foundations for the long-term, and to promote them and their common vision of training and tourism before hospitality professionals and public authorities.
Our goal is to become a regional network that inspires transformation towards hands-on, market related and sustainable educational approaches in TVET systems in Southeast Asia, particularly in the hospitality & catering sector. We also aim at becoming a key regional player in sustainable hospitality and tourism.