HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT FOR
A PRIORITY FOR EMPLOYERS
Sriyan de Silva
International Labour Office
Paper presented at the ILO Workshop on Employers' Organizations in Asia-Pacific in the Twenty-First Century
Turin, Italy, 5-13 May 1997.
Table of Contents
2. Some Emerging Trends and Influences
emergence of knowledge work
technology, information and globalization
3. Implications for Employers
4. Human Resources Development for Socio-Economic Development /DT 5. The Need for Action
6. A Sharing of Responsibilities
"Human resources development is the process of increasing the knowledge, the skills, and the capacities of all the people in a society. In economic terms, it could be described as the accumulation of human capital and its effective investment in the development of an economy. In political terms, human resources development prepares people for adult participation in political processes, particularly as citizens in a democracy. From the social and cultural points of view, the development of human resources helps people to lead fuller and richer lives, less bound by tradition. In short, the processes of human resources development unlock the door to modernization."(1) The importance of human resources development (hereafter referred to as "HRD") is obvious when one considers that in any economic activity it is the human element that •
the factors of production. The quality of people appropriate to the particular level and complexities of the activity determines how well or poorly, these tasks are accomplished. HRD encompasses a wide range of subjects such as health care, nutrition, population control, education and training. For the purposes of this paper, the term HRD is used to cover only education and training, as they are more directly related to the mandate of employers' organizations.
The objectives of this paper are to identify the reasons why employers and their organizations in the Asian-Pacific region (or anywhere, for that matter) need to be concerned and involved in HRD, and why today HRD is more important than before (irrespective of the level of economic development) for competitiveness and socioeconomic development. The paper also focuses on what employers' organizations should and could be doing. These issues will also be addressed by the participants at the workshop for which this paper has been prepared, as well as by the other two resource persons whose specific area of responsibility is HRD.(2)
The principal theme of this paper is that investment in education and training is the main key to progress from one level of economic development to another. It conveys the message that societies which do not gear themselves from now to learning will find it difficult to progress beyond their present level of economic and social development. Even the relatively rich economies seeking to capture some of the key industries of the next century, will need to create the conditions and environment necessary for creativity and innovation essential for moving into and being competitive in the knowledge-based industries which will provide the highest value-added for economies. As has been perceptively observed by Peter F. Drucker:(3)
"We now know that the source of wealth is something specifically human: knowledge. If we apply knowledge to tasks we already know how to do, we call it 'productivity'. If we apply knowledge to tasks that are new and different, we call it 'innovation'. Only knowledge allows us to achieve these two goals."
The emergence of knowledge and its application as the chief determinants of competitiveness may be considered by some countries which are industrializing only now or are...