Microsoft pledges to transform communities and countries in ASEAN with digital skills development and jobs by 2020

 |   Thornthawat Thongnab

Teacher instructing students in front of a PC

By Sunny Park, Assistant General Counsel and APAC Regional Director, Corporate, External and Legal Affairs, Microsoft Asia Pacific.

As a follow-on from the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 meeting in Vietnam a few months ago, the team at WEF yesterday launched the ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020  an initiative that pledges to equip 20 million ASEAN workers with digital skills and opportunities in the next two years. It aims to address the employment and skilling challenges brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Microsoft has pledged to provide 15,000 university students with internship opportunities, deliver digital skills training to 2.2 million SME employees, and to hire 8,500 digital workers by 2020 across ASEAN.

The ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020 initiative offers ASEAN citizens internship opportunities, training in digital skills and employment. It also enables students and the public to visit offices of technology companies to learn about the jobs of the future. What the initiative hopes to achieve is to increase the number of people trained and hired in digital skills, and to help business leaders understand and learn how other companies in the region prepare their workforce to be digital-ready.

I see ASEAN as the vision of what communities and regions of the future should look like. The future of borderless economies, investments, e-commerce and education. I believe in a future where every young person has the skills, knowledge and opportunity to succeed.

Right now, over half the people on the planet lack basic access to the knowledge and skills that would enable them to participate in the new digital economy. Together with our partners, we are going to change that. We are going to empower every person and SME in ASEAN to achieve more.

Digital skills are essential for the jobs of today and tomorrow and can open the doors to greater economic opportunities. In developing countries in ASEAN, where infrastructure and industries are still playing catch-up with their more developed neighbours, the workforce is expected to expand by 11,000 workers a day for the next 15 years. Let’s think about this for a moment, this increase comes at a time when industrial robots are already taking the place of manufacturing labour!

At the same time, ASEAN leaders are also looking to digital transformation to help every industry scale – to increase their productivity, improve efficiency – to grow beyond their borders and collaborate with the rest of the world.

The two challenges faced by these industries: shortage of talent and the growth of e-commerce.

In a recent Korn Ferry study on a global US$8.5 trillion talent shortage, Indonesia, for example, is expected to face a massive talent deficit to the tune of 18 million workers by 2030, with manufacturing being the hardest hit due to a mismatch between available skills and industry needs.

The explosive growth of e-commerce in Southeast Asia, which is expected to be a US$88.1 billion market by 2025, is powered by the 330 million internet users across the region who spend about 140 minutes shopping online each month.

I strongly believe that technology can be a significant force for social and economic inclusion. This can only come about as technology companies and governments pledge to work together and the ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020 is an excellent start. By equipping people and organisations with skills, we’re empowering them to achieve more, we’re helping them to learn more, and most importantly, we are enabling their communities and countries to thrive in the new digital economy.