New realities have emerged over the past two years and new strategies have been adopted by economies around the world to deal with the new realities. Renewed emphasis has been placed on digital transformation and equipping people with the right set of skills to prepare them for the new world has been a priority; and with over 4.6 billion people, the Asia-Pacific region has done considerably well in terms of digital transformation.
The pandemic has accelerated this process by about seven years. As one of the major players in the region, Bangladesh is also doing very well when it comes to digital readiness.
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And to provide a magnified view of the digital readiness of countries around the world, Huawei has been publishing a special index called the Global Connectivity Index (GCI) since 2015. The index assesses 40 indicators focusing on broadband, routing, Internet of objects (IoT). ) and artificial intelligence, and groups countries into three groups: Starters, Adopters and Frontrunners. Clusters distinguish different levels of connectivity; a country’s digital readiness from a national and business perspective based on the current state, future trends and challenges associated with digital transformation, and determine different parameters on what they need to work on to become a Digital Economy.
On top of all this, the GCI categorically suggests that developing human resources and skills is crucial for a country to transform into a digital economy. According to the 2021 World Economic Forum (WEF) report, the benefits of improved skills, which the analysis suggests, could provide up to 6.1% increase in GDP by 2030, and this will be easier as emerging Asian economies shift to higher value addition. sectors that require the most productive use of skills. But on the other hand, according to research by Korn Ferry, we will face an estimated shortage of 47 million tech talent by 2030. A survey of CEOs by PwC found that more than 50% of CEOs in APAC say it’s hard to hire digital talent. with the right skills.
We cannot deny that the changing world needs young people with new skills compatible with new realities and perspectives. So, naturally, the demand for young people with such skills will see an upward trend. And certainly, the rise in skills of a population has a direct impact on its economy and its society. For example, Singapore was ranked second in the GCI 2020, with a per capita income of USD 60,000. This was possible through the implementation of the Smart Nation Singapore initiative. Similarly, countries like Thailand and Indonesia are reaping the rewards of digitalization and upskilling policies. In fact, Indonesia has successfully become Southeast Asia’s largest economy, with a GDP of over $1.1 trillion with such a policy in place.
It has also been predicted that industries will also experience paradigm shifts, reinforcing the need for skilled people. According to the findings of the 2021 Global Data Market Opportunity Study, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) will be the fastest growing segment, with the Asia-Pacific region occupying 80% of the global market share by the end of the year. end of 2024. In such a situation, digital inclusion will drive growth in different sectors in the near future. This reality is also relevant for Bangladesh, where there have been significant changes in the industry landscape over the past few years due to the huge digital transformation taking place in the country.
Bangladesh is doing well in the areas of broadband, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) compared to previous years. However, to meet the future demands of industry, the ICT industry in particular, Bangladesh needs a young, skilled workforce.
The government of Bangladesh has worked diligently to minimize the difference between demand and supply of talent. We have observed with pleasure that over the last decade the government has taken various measures to improve the skills of young people. Under the Aspire to Innovate (a2i) project operating under the ICT Division, the government has introduced several initiatives such as Skills Development through Apprenticeships, Skills Development through Stipends and Skills Scheme for the job. In addition, the government has set up 39 high-tech or software technology parks. Government initiatives are also underway to set up 31 specialized laboratories in different universities to upskill young people. Moreover, about 500 polytechnic institutes have been established in the country over the past 12 years to help young people acquire the right skills. All these initiatives are truly commendable.
Well, considering the digital talent demand and digital talent supply ratio, Bangladesh has been categorized as a Starter, along with other emerging economies. We have made steady progress over the years, as evidenced by an eight-point improvement in the GCI between 2015 and 2020. The country is indeed moving confidently towards the Digital Bangladesh vision.
In order to maintain this positive momentum, the continuation of skills development efforts specifically targeting young people, that is to say the leaders of tomorrow, is essential. To further accelerate effective skills development among youth, Bangladesh can follow the four fundamental pillars of talent development: Design, Incentivize, Collaborate and Ecosystem (DICE). First, he must do a detailed analysis of the workforce, future needs and the gap between needs and supply. Then, make plans to build a talent pool and create jobs, develop a national plan in partnership with universities and tech giants to fill the big skills gaps, and finally, attract the talent pool to inspire others to follow.
Moreover, there is another way to develop talents, which most countries follow. Bangladesh can also follow this path. The country needs to assess the relevance of its digital education program to uncover the gap between industry-specific needs and things taught in universities. Once the gap is closed, the country will have digital talent ready for employment. At this time, the role of broad digital talent policies comes into play, which will help the country create jobs and other opportunities for young talents.
Along with government initiatives, different private organizations have been instrumental in digitally preparing the country and its citizens to reap the benefits of digital transformation. To be specific, Huawei has worked very diligently to equip young people in Bangladesh and the Asia-Pacific region with the right ICT skills so that they can contribute to long-term growth. To date, Huawei has trained approximately 19,000 IT professionals in Asia-Pacific. Additionally, in Bangladesh, Huawei has taken several initiatives such as ICT Academy, ICT Skills Competition and Seeds for the Future to develop an ecosystem of ICT talent, all of which are bearing fruit for the country’s ICT industry.
To be specific, Bangladesh is currently in an advantageous position as the country could realize the potential of its demographic dividend. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and the United Nations Population Division, the demographic window will remain open until 2035 or 2037 for Bangladesh, insinuating that the country will have a labor force exceeding the aging population during this period.
Bangladesh must take advantage of this situation and continue to develop its young people. For example, Huawei is ready to help the country in this regard as it plans to train at least 6,000 young people over the next year. Driven by “In Bangladesh, for Bangladesh”, Huawei will continue to contribute to the development of youth in this country.
Jason Li is a board member of Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Limited