Asia skills shortage could hit growth: ADB

MANILA, April 2, 2008 (AFP) – Asia is facing a serious skills shortage that could hamper the region’s economic growth and push for modernisation, the Asian Development Bank said in its annual outlook report released Wednesday. The Manila-based ADB said the shortage was widespread and had been partly driven by skilled workers leaving to take opportunities in industrialised countries around the world.

“Although this brain drain is hardly new to the region, the skills shortage confronting it has added a new, more urgent dimension to this trend,” the bank said, calling the shortfall a “symptom” of Asia’s economic success.

“Such imbalances are particularly evident among professional groups, including accountants, airline pilots, business managers, engineers, lawyers, medical doctors, scientists and software specialists.”

As one example, it cited what it called an “acute shortage” of airline pilots in China, where a booming economy has meant rising incomes and an explosion in air travel.

“Other factors are at play, too, including a steady convergence towards international norms and practices for environmental standards, corporate governance and financial regulation,” the bank said.

“This upgrading raises the