Social Mobility for Youth: Escaping Poverty in Developing Asia

MetLife Foundation-Asia Society Economic Inclusion Series

Evening Dialogue
Drinks reception: 6:30pm
Dialogue: 7:00pm
Close: 8:15pm


While the Asia-Pacific region has experienced tremendous growth over the course of the last decades, many young people remain economically excluded. Although only one in five workers are aged 15 to 24, this group accounts for almost half the region’s jobless sector. Marginalized youngsters from low-income families in Asia’s developing countries, in particular, face numerous barriers to secure gainful employment, achieve upward social mobility and escape a life of poverty. Among them, financial constraints and limited access to training hinder this group from going to school and acquiring the necessary technical and vocational skills. As a result, many end up working as unskilled or low-paid labor and remain mired in a systemic cycle of poverty, diminishing any prospect of scaling the social ladder.

The commitment of governments, the private sector and civil society is critical in addressing social immobility among youth in developing Asia. Panelists will explore actions undertaken to support Asia’s youth escape poverty, how to create opportunities for these young people to flourish and the necessary reforms to ensure more young people achieve upward social mobility.


A.B.M. Azad, Project Director, Skills and Training Enhancement Project, Government of Bangladesh
Mr. Azad is joint secretary of the Government of Bangladesh and Project Director of the World Bank-funded Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP), a youth-oriented initiative launched by the Government of Bangladesh in 2009, which helps students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds enroll in market-oriented vocational training courses, and acquire new skills that can lead to better jobs. 96,000 diploma-level students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds have received stipends to access and continue vocational training for improved employability, and nearly 77,000 youths have received free 6-month vocational training in 38 trades, including in the electrical, automotive and garment sectors. Mr. Azad began his civil service career by joining the Deputy Commissioner’s office of Dinagpur as assistant commissioner and magistrate in 1991. He completed his Bachelor of Commerce from the Department of Management at Dhaka University as well as Master of Commerce.

Santosh Bhuvad, Partnerships Manager, Asia Pacific, Youth Career Initiative (YCI)
Mr. Bhuvad was instrumental in setting up YCI in India in 2012, and is their Mumbai-based Partnerships Manager for the Asia Pacific region. YCI is committed to combating global youth unemployment, providing students with transferable life and work skills that make them employable and empowering them to make career choices and positive life decisions. It offers a 24-week education program in partnership with the global hotel industry. Previously with the Kherwadi Social Welfare Association, Mr. Bhuvad contributed to the conceptualization and implementation of a program providing employment to marginalized youth in India. He holds a Master of Commerce degree from Mumbai University and MBA from Sikkim Manipal University.

Pham Thi Thanh Tam, Executive Director, REACH
Ms. Tam is Executive Director of REACH, a Vietnam-based non-profit organization specializing in vocational training and employment, whose mission is to empower disadvantaged young people across Vietnam. She previously worked on the Livelihood Advancement Business School project at Plan International in Hanoi as Project Manager and Business to Youth Officer. Prior to her involvement in international development, Ms. Tam worked in the private sector. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Trade from Hanoi Foreign Trade University and Master of Arts degree in the Economics of Development from the National Economics University in Hanoi.

Jiadi Yu, Principal Investment Officer, Healthcare & Education Asia, International Finance Corporation (IFC)
Ms. Yu leads IFC’s investments in healthcare and education across Asia. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the world’s largest multilateral investor in private healthcare and education and works to increase access to high-quality health and education. Since 2009, Ms. Yu has supported the sustainable development and widespread delivery of private healthcare and education within the region. Prior to IFC, Ms. Yu worked for the World Bank in Washington, D.C. and the Shanghai Asset and Equity Exchange. She graduated from Renmin University of China and holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Yuen Chan, Senior Lecturer, School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Ms. Chan is Senior Lecturer at the School of Journalism and Communication, and Assistant Dean (Communication) at the Faculty of Social Science at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Prior to teaching, she worked for more than a decade as a journalist, columnist, anchor and presenter for English print, television and radio news in Hong Kong. Ms. Chan left Hong Kong in 2003 to become a correspondent based first in Shanghai and then Beijing. She has produced work for the BBC World Service, CBC, Radio National Australia, KQED and CNN International, among others. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in human sciences from the University of Sussex. (Moderator)

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Thu 27 Apr 2017

Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty