Huawei, the China-based tech giant, has launched a five-year US$50mil (RM207.68mil) budget to develop 500,000 ICT talents in the Asia Pacific region.
Experts from the region convened at the Digital Talent Summit 2021 webinar co-hosted by the Asean Foundation and Huawei to explore ways to step up developing digital talents as a huge shortage of skilled personnel continues.
International consultant Korn Ferry estimated a shortage of 47 million tech talents by 2030 in the Asia Pacific region. PwC found in a survey that more than 50% of Asia Pacific CEOs say it’s difficult to hire digital talent with the right skills.
The challenges have also entered a new phase as the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the digital talent landscape in Asia Pacific like never before, according to Huawei’s 2022 Digital Talent Insight.
The world is in the midst of disruptions with emerging technologies such as 5G, cloud computing, big data, AI, IoT, and blockchain poised to dramatically reshape the digital economy.
“We have gone beyond skill development (which can be learned) to seek ‘transformation leadership’... It’s all about the mindset...of talents who think of customers first...and who can take to the challenge the status quo,” said Gokhan Ogut, CEO of Malaysia’s telco Maxis at the webinar.
Dr Vu Minh Khuong from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore, said apart from the ability to “make a breakthrough”, new digital talents also need to have the skills to foster synergy, and even to transform the world with innovations.
He coined a framework for step-up talents called “Smart Model” with S standing for strategy role; M for momentum building; A for acquisition of knowledge; R for rethink; and T for trust building.
Huawei’s Digital Talent Insight concurred that governments need to lead the way and work closely with industries (demand) and academia (supply) in terms of planning and development of their local talent population
The study grouped countries into three digital talent development categories: Frontrunner (Singapore, South Korea, Japan), Adopter (China, Malaysia, Thailand) and Starter (Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh).
It found that the Adopter countries show a government’s initiatives and investment in digital development can differentiate the pace at which a country achieves its digitalisation initiatives. However, the efforts are still insufficient as talent policies can aid younger generations but not mid-career converters, for example.
Mohamed Djelid from Unesco Asia Pacific echoed a parallel view from a recent World Economic Forum-Sea Co survey of 80,000 people showing SMEs are more enthusiastic on the tech change and keep to advance the challenge than other groups. “It’s the state of mind,” he added.
Dr Syed Ismail Shah of ITU SE Asia said for anxious workers, the reskill of senior people is more about “mindset”. He called for more collaboration among Asean countries and seriousness in development digital ecosystem so that the tools can be made widely available.
Maxis’ Ogut said that while partnerships with academia are essential, his firm is also using M&A to acquire talents from specialist small and medium-sized startups and digital service providers.
Huawei is rolling out its new talent development programme in four more countries to bring the total to eight in the Asia Pacific region, said Jay Chen, Huawei Asia Pacific’s vice-president.
Huawei signed on Nov 3 the “Seeds for the Future” cooperation with the Asean Foundation. – ANN