In less than two years, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015 will take place to unify the economy of 10 participating countries. This means investors can establish their businesses anywhere, and employees are able to search for job opportunities in neighbouring countries with less restrictions than before.
The catch is, all 10 countries: Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Cambodia, Brunei, and yes, Indonesia, agree to use English as the language for business.
Are we AEC 2015 ready?
While Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that Indonesia is ready for this unification as it will improve our economy exponentially, some critics are not so sure.
Participating countries like Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei to name a few, have learnt English as a part of their school curriculum. But most Indonesians have not had this privilege.
In 2012, international education company Education First (EF) released English Proficiency Index report which showed Indonesia ranking 27 out of 54 countries with “low proficiency”. In that same year, however, the Ministry of Education and Culture announced their solution of removing English learning from the elementary school curriculum altogether.
With the ever increasing competition, it is predicted that those with fewer English qualifications will be disadvantaged. Not only will we be competing with local Indonesians for jobs, we will also be competing with an international pool of highly capable employees.
“In Indonesia, English is deemed as a foreign language instead of a second language. However, as our local communities are becoming more global, coupled with our country’s booming economy, learning and mastering English has become a must.”
Hamid Muhammad, Director General for Secondary Education, Ministry of Education and Culture
Why corporate English is important more than ever
The good news is: there is still time to prepare.
Here are some of the reasons why learning English as a second language is beneficial in the long term:
1. It increases job opportunities
Regardless of whether you’re a manager, an accountant, a technician, an engineer, or an administrator, learning English opens new opportunities for career growth, which leads to greater income. A managerial position now lists “proficient in English” as one of the qualifications. A directorial position may now require “fluent/native proficiency in English”.
If you want to get ahead in your career, being able to communicate or write a report in English serves you as a great asset.
2. It reduces competition
Don’t take this literally as competition will always be there, but knowing how to communicate effectively in English puts you at a great advantage compared to others who don’t.
You might be the one who represents the company in meeting an international client as your English is the best among the team. And who knows what other opportunities await?
3. It opens more doors to the global world
By learning English, you can apply for jobs not only locally, but also internationally. AEC 2015 makes it possible to work overseas with limited or low restrictions.
Bonus point: It looks good on your CV.
Are you ready for AEC 2015? Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to prepare you for the workplace. Check out our website for further information.