The private sector steps up, pledging to train millions of youth in ASEAN to unlock the region’s digital potential

15 Aug 2019

The impact.

16 leading organizations, including the world’s biggest technology companies, have partnered with the Forum to upskill millions of ASEAN workers, citizens and students, strengthening the region’s digital economy and maximizing the opportunities brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

ASEAN is the fastest growing internet market in the world. With 125,000 new internet users daily, the ASEAN digital economy is projected to grow significantly, adding an estimated $1 trillion to regional GDP over the next ten years.

But many roadblocks stand in the way of realizing this potential – including significant gaps in digital skills.

What´s the challenge?

The Forum’s ASEAN Youth: Technology, Skills and the future of work survey, released today, 16 August 2019, reveals that three of the four skills that ASEAN youth regard as their weakest are STEM skills, including technology design and data analytics.

Around nine per cent of young people believe their current skill set is already outdated. A further 52 per cent believe they must upgrade their skills constantly to stay relevant, while only 20 per cent believe that their current skills will last for another five or 10 years before they need to be retrained.

The survey also found ASEAN youths are demanding more internships and on-the-job training to gain skills, with over 80 per cent of respondents finding internships and apprenticeships equally important, or more important, than training in schools.

Digital skills are one of the top priorities for the Forum’s Digital ASEAN initiative, which addresses key issues underpinning the growth of the digital economy in the region.

The ASEAN region is the fastest-growing internet market in the world: the online population increases by 125,000 users every day, e-commerce is flourishing, and the region is producing exciting tech unicorns. However, much of the activity is still at a national rather than a regional level.

Working with a multistakeholder community of more than 100 organizations, the initiative is helping to shape regional data policy, harmonize regional e-payment systems, build digital skills and promote cooperation and capacity-building in ASEAN cybersecurity.

"Nobody can say for sure how technology will change the future of work. The only certainty is that job markets face accelerating disruption, where the durability of many skills is shortening. It is encouraging that ASEAN youths are aware of these challenges and show a deep commitment to lifelong and constant learning."

Justin Wood, Head of Asia Pacific and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.

Our approach.

Our ASEAN Digital Skills Task Force created the ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020 programme, which launched the collective ASEAN Digital Skills Pledge in November 2019.

The pledge includes the following specific commitments to be achieved by 2020:

• Train 20 million ASEAN SME workers
• Raise US $2million in contributions to providing scholarships for ASEAN technology students
• Directly hire 200,000 ASEAN digital workers
• Engage 20,000 ASEAN citizens through Digital Inspiration Days (where leading technology companies open their offices to ASEAN citizen visitors for engagement)
• Offer 2,000 internship opportunities for ASEAN university students
• Train 200 ASEAN regulators
• Contribute to shaping the curricula at 20 ASEAN universities; and
• Train 40 million ASEAN individual citizens in digital literacy and online safety.

16 leading organizations have pioneered significant support for the pledge – including BigPay; Certiport, a Pearson VUE Business; Cisco; FPT Corporation; General Assembly; Golden Gate Ventures; Google; Grab; Lazada; Microsoft; Netflix; Plan International; Sea; thyssenkrupp; Tokopedia; and VNG Corporation.

As of August 2019, commitments of the pledge include:

• The training of almost 9 million ASEAN SME workers
• More than US $4.4 million raised for scholarships for ASEAN tech students
• More than 38,000 additional digital workers hired
• More than 1.1 million citizens engaged through Digital Inspiration Days
• Around 30,000 internship opportunities to be offered to ASEAN students
• 3,580 ASEAN regulators to be trained
• More than 4,000 commitments to shape the curricula at ASEAN universities
• More than 3 million ASEAN citizens to be trained on digital literacy and online safety

With these commitments, thanks to our partners and members, the ASEAN region is now a significant contributor to the global initiative on Closing the Skills Gap, accounting for over 95% of commitments from the Asia Pacific region and over 50% of global commitments.

The project’s ASEAN e-Payments Coalition also developed a recommendation paper on e-payments to support the development of the ASEAN Payments Policy Framework by the ASEAN governments.

Chart: Which best describes how you assess your current level of education and skills for the job market? (% of respondents)

How can you get involved?

The ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020 Pledge is part of the World Economic Forum’s Digital ASEAN initiative, which is supported by our Platforms for Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and New Value Creation, and Shaping the Future of Trade and Global Economic Interdependence.

Companies are invited to support digital upskilling in the region by completing the ASEAN Digital Skills Pledge Form. Organisations do not have to commit to all aspects of the pledge – they can choose which parts are most appropriate. Companies can also update their pledge with additional commitments at a later stage.

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