Higher Education: Diversification and

Bangkok, Thailand

A regional seminar on ‘Diversification of Post-Secondary Education (PSE) and the Employability of University Graduates’ was organized jointly by IIEP and the UNESCO Bangkok Office, from 21 to 31 March 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Attracting more than 30 policy-makers and researchers from 7 countries in the region, the seminar had as its goal to share the findings of recent studies, carried out by IIEP and the UNESCO Bangkok and Jakarta Offices, on the expansion and diversification of PSE and the employability of graduates and to draw policy implications for planning PSE in the region.

The continuing expansion of knowledge-based production requires skills acquired at the post-secondary level of education, but not necessarily a university degree. To meet this growing need, the non-university segment of PSE, often offering programmes tailored to develop skills demanded by the market, has been rapidly expanding globally.

A recent survey among employers in the Asian region showed that the skills demanded in labour markets are not being sufficiently developed by PSE institutions. This finding led to considerable discussion at the seminar, concerning the degree of responsibility of higher education institutions to ensure that graduates possess skills directly applicable on the job. The majority opinion was that, while they cannot be held responsible for the unemployment of individual graduates, PSE institutions have an obligation to develop their employability, which entails developing their technical, social, and communication skills to adapt to the evolving requirements of labour markets.

Expected outcomes of the seminar:

  • publications based on the presentations;
  • policy support to participating governments on diversification of PSE and employment of graduates.

Research on PSE issues

The IIEP studies focused on expansion and diversification of PSE and covered Azerbaijan, Chile, Malaysia, Nigeria, and the Republic of Korea, while the UNESCO Offices focused on the employability of PSE graduates and covered China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and the Republic of Korea.