The global pandemic has truly accelerated digital transformation around the world, and as companies and organizations seek out skilled workers to meet the challenges brought about by the rise of the digital economy, it has become increasingly apparent that there remains a huge gap in digital talents across the Asia-Pacific region.
Huawei’s recent Global Connectivity Index (GCI) report grouped nations into three clusters according to ICT investment, ICT maturity, and digital economic performance, categorizing them as either starters, adopters, or frontrunners in these areas. The report found that countries in Asia Pacific largely differed across all areas, resulting in overall unbalanced regional development. In addition, it was also noted that when confronted with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries with more mature digital infrastructures were able to minimize impacts and recover faster.
Rapid development of the digital economy faces a potential ICT talent shortage however, and as we enter an intelligent world, a digital divide still exists. An example of this was felt during the pandemic, where older people were unable to book vaccines through mobile devices due to their unfamiliarity with digital technologies and rural students couldn’t access online study programs due to a lack of supporting infrastructure. In terms of business, a research paper from Korn Ferry reported that Asia Pacific will face a digital labor shortage of 47 million people by 2030 and an annual opportunity cost of US$4.238 trillion. Furthermore, according to PwC’s 20th CEO Survey, more than 50% of APAC CEOs reported difficulty hiring digital talents with the right skills. But despite all this, Asia Pacific has shown great potential for digital transformation, and as 5G rolls out at scale, connectivity, cloud, AI, computing, and industry applications have all come together to create exciting opportunities for the region’s ICT sector.
Over the next decade, emerging technologies are poised to dramatically reshape the digital economy. Digital transformation will lead to significant changes in how people work, and existing job roles will either become obsolete or require new skillsets. In this context, governments need to lead the way and work closely with industries and academia to develop their local talent populations.
To address digital skill gaps in Thailand, Huawei Technologies (Thailand) Co., Ltd. has committed their resources and collaborated with various ecosystem partners to help build new ICT talent programs focused on reversing these shortfalls.
Starting in 2008 in Bangkok, the ‘Seeds for the Future’ program was the first of many initiatives designed to inspire ICT talents and encourage them to tackle social challenges with digital solutions. The program gathered young ICT talents from leading universities to join an academic camp and cultural exchange program with the aim of offering them annual scholarships and access to cutting-edge technologies. Last year, Huawei announced an investment of $150 million into the program and in August 2022, the largest-ever regional Seeds for the Future Program was successfully held in Thailand, bringing together nearly 140 countries in the region and reaching over 12,000 students from 500 universities.
Huawei Connect, Huawei’s annual flagship event, was also held outside of China for the first time, debuting in September 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand. During the event, the ASEAN Foundation and Huawei brought together representatives from various governments, academia, and industries to discuss the construction of a future-ready ICT talent pool in the Asia-Pacific region at an Asia Pacific Digital Talent Summit. During this meeting, Dr. Phichet Phophakdee, Inspector-General of the Ministry of Education of Thailand shared updates on Thailand’s current initiatives in talent cultivation: “In Thailand, distance learning platforms and resources, such as Digital Learning Television (DLTV), are being developed to ensure learning opportunities are available for everyone. The future of education will depend on us being more united and innovating to make our nation’s education more inclusive, more equitable, and higher quality.”
In tandem with digitalization, cybersecurity is also becoming more important than ever before. Cyber-attacks are increasing on critical infrastructure systems such as energy, healthcare, and transportation, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world and causing damages worth $6 trillion dollars globally per year. A cybersecurity workforce study found that the global cyber security industry is already 2.72 million people short and 85% of cyber-security professionals believe workforce shortages are impacting their organization’s ability to keep increasingly complex information systems and networks secure.
This year, the Ministry of Digital Economy and the National Cyber Security Agency jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cybersecurity cooperation with Huawei to increase cybersecurity skills for Thai IT personnel through Huawei’s E-Lab online learning platform, competition projects, and training courses. Huawei also collaborated with the National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA) to establish the Thailand Cyber Top Talent 2022 competition, a cybersecurity competition with the aim of enhancing the cybersecurity capabilities of digital talents in Thailand, including among young people, government officials, and corporate employees.
Huawei also launched ASEAN Academy, a digital platform designed to bridge the gap between ICT talent supply and demand by cooperating with governments, regulators, industry organizations, and managerial level professionals to promote the transformation of the ICT industry. Working with 200+ Universities in ASEAN, Huawei jointly developed course systems to meet industry demands by offering free trainings, practice, and certifications for universities. As a result, a robust talent supply chain of more than 4,000 people in 12 countries has been built, covering the entire process of learning, certification, and employment by deepening the cooperation between universities and enterprises.
Now, Huawei is looking to a future that is more connected, intelligent, and sustainable. Digitalization is the driving force for the future, but digital talents are truly the key behind digital transformation and its sustainable growth. Building a talent ecosystem to support this new era requires joint efforts from governments, industries, and educational institutions, and it is Huawei that is committed to supporting these efforts through upskilling the Thai workforce and driving Thailand to become a major hub for digital technologies and personnel development.