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In a rapidly changing world and in light of the 2030 education agenda, skills development needs a fundamental rethink and transformation to respond to the needs for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific. The actions for such transformation were globally debated at the Third International Congress on TVET (Shanghai, China, 2012). The Shanghai Consensus, key outcome of the Congress, suggests recommendations to support the transformation of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) policies and practices in UNESCO’s Member States. Following up on the Consensus, countries in the Asia-Pacific engaged in numerous policy initiatives, which in many cases have been observed as not transformative enough to respond to the changing socio-economic landscape, to the aspirations for knowledge societies and to the need for inclusive and sustainable economic growth. With its enormous diversity, there are experiences and lessons to be learned from within and outside the Asia-Pacific region which can benefit countries in transforming their TVET policies and strategies in response to emerging socio-economic trends.

In response to emerging challenges such as globalisation, regional integration, demographic shifts, technological advances, environmental concerns, as well as persistent inequalities and youth unemployment, many governments in the Asia-Pacific strive towards green and sustainable development: this requires new skills (OECD, 2013), which are expected to replace or expand existing skills in the future and create jobs opportunities in particular for youth. Building inclusive knowledge-based economies requires appropriate curricula, pedagogical approaches and learning environments, especially through ICT-integrated TVET. For that purpose, current and future skills requirements, including transversal and entrepreneurial skills (although there are existing differences in understandings and conceptualizations of transversal skills across countries, the general idea refers to obtaining competencies such as communication, entrepreneurship, problem-solving, innovation, collaboration skills, etc. to better progress across employment sectors) will need to be assessed, debated and reflected in education and training policies and strategies. In addition, growing globalisation, regional economic integration and labour mobility in the Asia-Pacific, which make education and training a matter of transnational agenda, require a strengthening of cross-country partnerships for improved TVET governance at all levels. 

In light of these developments, UNESCO with the support of the Malaysian Government and in collaboration with its development partners is organising the Asia-Pacific Conference on Education and Training (ACET) entitled ‘Making Skills Development Work for the Future’ from 3-5 August 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.