Integrating skills, education and employment is particularly relevant to the theme of the World Economic Forum on East Asia – Shaping the Region’s Future through Connectivity.
East Asia as a region is very young in terms of its demographic profile. As such, ensuring that youth are employable and well equipped with new skills required for today’s world is critical for the regional transformation underway.
Education and skills are key ingredients to prepare the region’s youth for the task of developing inclusive economic growth and achieving a sustainable society. I find widespread commitment and passion for education in Asia very encouraging, and it makes me feel confident about the region’s continued transformation, despite its vulnerability to natural disasters and other risks.
Technology plays a significant role in education and skills development. As discussed at the Forum’s ICT summit, there are an increasing number of online learning sites. With technology, many institutions have begun making their courses accessible throughout the world. At Keio University, for example, we are part of the Soi Asia project, which uses satellite-based Internet to provide a conducive environment for distance learning and share the distribution of live lectures throughout Asia.
An online knowledge bank of talent mobility good practices, as developed through the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Talent and Skills Mobility, is one attempt to share concrete actions to address global talent challenges. In fact, the ASEAN example is cited as one of the five in-depth case studies of the online knowledge bank.
I also find the enthusiasm for technology among the people in Asia very encouraging for closing various gaps such as income inequality and the intergenerational divide. With social networks and other means, people today are connected regardless of the location, nationality or age.
I am confident that the dedication to education and skills, coupled with the accelerating technological progress, will make East Asia a unique place not only from an economic perspective, but also as a source of inspiration and entrepreneurship.
I look forward to further exploring new opportunities and collaborating with participants on these issues during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok.
Author: Yoko Ishikura, Professor, Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University, Japan; and Vice-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Education & Skills.
Pictured: Children try out laptops at a showroom in Seoul March 27, 2012. REUTERS/Bobby Yip