Skills Gap Grows: Old Jobs Will Disappear in New Digital Economy
President, Cisco Asia Pacific and Japan
Technology, Innovation, People and Culture, Thought Leadership, Digitization
Technology will play a pivotal role in helping Asia Pacific unlock economic growth and productivity. But while digitization is creating new opportunities for countries, it’s creating new challenges – education and skills is one of the most pressing. Country competitiveness will increasingly be determined by the capabilities of its workforce.
In the digital world traditional jobs as we know them will disappear, replaced by new jobs that require different skills for the digital economy, and people will be displaced. We are seeing these shifts today: Cyber Security is a topical example, with demand for skilled workers in this area currently out-stripping supply.
I recently spoke at the Asia Pacific and Japan Career and Technical Education Summit in Singapore which Cisco hosted in partnership with Singtel Optus. It brought together business leaders and executive decision makers from educational institutions to discuss how we can innovate career and technical (vocational) education. The aim is to help close the critical skills gap brought about by the rapidly changing landscape of the workforce in the digital age.
There are three broad areas to address:
Governments across Asia Pacific are investing in skills and training. But needle-moving success will only be achieved through partnership – across government, educational institutions, and private sector companies. The countries that get it right will bolster economic strength and prosperity for future decades.
As a company, Cisco views career and technical education as a key corporate responsibility, as well as a powerful economic building block. It’s for the benefit for our own future workforce and ecosystem; for greater diversity and depth in the ICT sector as a whole; and for the positive impact on wider society. We collaborate closely and broadly with public and private organizations to help drive it forward.
Skill India is a government initiative to train millions of students to support the country’s booming economy. Cisco is supporting it and has committed to train 250,000 with career-ready ICT skills by 2020. We’ve also made national skills commitments in Australia (AUSTEM 2020) and Thailand (as part of Digital Thailand) that will help support the demands of the digital economy by training thousands of people.
We work with leading educational institutions across the region to help them digitize their campuses and the learning experience, and evolve the delivery of education. In Australia, our joint innovation with South West TAFE on Smart Classrooms is based on technology as means to improve accessibility, engagement and learning outcomes for students living in both urban and regional locations.
In Singapore, our on-going work with Temasek Polytechnic includes the design of a new education delivery model. We see an opportunity to produce the skills and workforce required to help drive Singapore’s Smart Nation initiatives and position Singapore as a ‘tech skills expert hub’ to support the regional digital eco-system, particularly ASEAN. Future skills such as Software Defined Networking, Cyber Security, and Internet of Things will take center stage.
Our longest-running and largest effort around career and technical education continues to be our Cisco Networking Academy. We have 9500 academies in 170 countries worldwide (980 academies in Asia Pacific and Japan). Since it was established in 1997, over 6 million students have graduated, armed with IT and business skills, equipped to thrive in the digital economy.
As a leading technology company in Asia Pacific and Japan, it is critical for Cisco to continue to invest and partner to drive innovation in technical education. We can certainly do more; and we need to do more. After all, we will all only be as successful as the societies we live in.