Asean youth encouraged to be entrepreneurs and volunteers
Izah Azahari

ASEAN leaders agreed yesterday to do more to encourage young people in Southeast Asia to develop entrepreneurial skills and undertake volunteer activities.

In a declaration adopted at the 23rd Asean Summit chaired by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the leaders recognised that the regional youth unemployment rate was “considerably higher” than in East or South Asia and projected to rise over the next five years.

They also recognised that Asean and neighbouring economies were estimated to have the world’s highest regional youth to adult unemployment rate with young people being five times more likely to be out of work than adults.

At the regional level, government efforts to address such challenges should be taken by ministerial bodies under both the Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) and the Asean Economic Community (AEC).

On entrepreneurial skills and volunteerism, the Asean leaders “agree that all stakeholders including both ASCC and AEC ministerial bodies, the private sector and non-governmental organisations should intensify efforts to strengthen the entrepreneurial skills and volunteerism mindset of young people,” the declaration stated.

The declaration also stated that such efforts should be carried out through different platforms and people-to-people exchanges while accelerating the development of a regional training network across Asean that includes out-of-school youth and other vulnerable groups.

The leaders welcomed the First Asean Young Entrepreneurs Seminar and Expo in May and Brunei’s initiative to form an Asean Young Professionals Volunteer Corps in partnership with a Singaporean non-governmental organi-sation with initial projects in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

They expressed support for the Asean Ministerial Meeting on Youth in calling on young Asean professionals to offer volunteer services while supporting other vulnerable groups and fostering entrepreneurial skills.

The Asean leaders also welcomed the recommendations of an Asean Youth Employment Forum in May, which aims to draw on strong and specific regional cooperation to complement individual national programmes through various approaches such as job-matching systems for new graduates, workforce migration and appropriate access to social protection.

The Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment acknowledged that informal work, casual day labour and household production activities were common forms of non-standard employment in Asean. This highlighted the need for more formal work with fixed contracts along with regular pay and benefits. - Borneo Bulletin (10 October 2013)