Collaboration to plug the digital skills gap by 2025: APEC

Collaboration to plug the digital skills gap by 2025: APEC

APEC's Closing The Digital Skills Gap Forum held in Singapore in July 2019. (APEC Secretariat)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has endeavored to close the digital skills gap in Asia-Pacific by 2025 through collaboration, noted a written statement issued by the APEC Human Resources Development Working Group, received here, Wednesday.

A survey on digital skills in the workforce revealed that job seekers are currently ill-prepared to work in the digital economy since they do not possess the requisite skills.

According to the Closing Digital Skills Gap survey, 75 percent of the respondents – constituting employers, government officials, and academics – report a significant skills mismatch. In the absence of more upskilling programs to increase digital expertise, the survey has cautioned that several workers might lose their jobs to automation.

"Skills mismatches hurt workers and the broader economy. Productivity declines when key jobs remain vacant. The APEC requires more skills training programs to reduce the global shortage of highly skilled workers that may soon exceed 38 million people," Chair of the APEC Human Resources Development Working Group Dong Sun Park remarked.

Park made the statement at the 2019 APEC Closing the Digital Skills Gap Forum, which launched the survey prepared by Wiley, an education and professional training solutions provider.

The forum, being held in Singapore, has brought together representatives from 16 APEC economies to explore policy options that can boost digital skills and the digital economy – a key priority set by Chile, the APEC 2019 host.

The digital economy is rapidly evolving, but education systems are failing to keep up and adapt at the same pace. As a result, several companies and organizations across many sectors, from healthcare to financial services and retail, are unable to fill positions requiring skills in data collection and analytics – and the vacancies cost billions of dollars of lost revenue annually.

However, over half the survey respondents acknowledged that the curricula at several academic institutions fail to adequately bring digital skills into classrooms.

More than 50 percent of the respondents also report that government agencies possess a low understanding of the digital skills landscape.

"It was an eye-opener to learn that up to 45 percent of the survey respondents said that they do not update job requirements every year. Let’s track these insights, so we can prepare the right strategies to close the skills gap and foster more growth and prosperity across the region," Andrew Tein, chief of staff to the CEO at Wiley and co-chair of the forum, remarked.

Hence, at the forum, participants finalized a roadmap to support and increase upskilling and reskilling programs carried out by employers, governments, and educational institutions across APEC.

Implementation of the roadmap builds upon the work of APEC’s Data Analytics and Raising Employment initiative, or Project DARE, which developed and implemented a set of industry-driven recommended actions to strengthen data science and analytics competencies, or DSA.

The Project DARE framework has informed the work of eight universities, companies, and associations to date, including the Analytics Association of the Philippines, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and Ho Chi Minh University of Technology and Education (HCMUTE).

"With the imminent need to facilitate the transition of workforce in the age of disruption, Project DARE provides a tripartite platform for governments, academia, and businesses across APEC economies to discuss human capital development in data science and analytics," Dean of HKUST’s School of Business and Management Kar Yan Tam remarked.

"This platform connects all of us closely together to manage the transformation wisely," he stated.

The roadmap also recommends the sharing of government statistical methodologies and best practices owing to insufficient information on how governments track and organize data on their workforce. Increased sharing of information and best practices can facilitate the establishment of a more standardized approach to upskilling.

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