ASEAN Foundation Joins Hands with Huawei to Bridge Digital Talent Gap in Asia Pacific

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The ASEAN Foundation and Huawei signed MoU on joint efforts to bridge the digital talent gap at the Asia Pacific Innovation Day – Digital Talent Summit 2021 on Wednesday. The online summit brought together policy makers, researchers and industry experts to share solutions and best practices in building a sustainable ecosystem that will help foster digital talents in the Asia Pacific.

The Asia Pacific Innovation Day – Digital Talent Summit 2021 started strongly with a series of keynote speeches from governments’ leaders such as Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Political Security Community H.E. Robert Matheus Michael Tene, Chair of the ASEAN Digital Senior Official Meeting H.E. Dato’ Sri Mohammad Mentek, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia H.E. Dr. Chea Vandeth, the Chief of Presidential Staff of the Republic of Indonesia H.E. General TNI (Purn) Dr. Moeldoko,  the Minister of Youth and Sports of Sri Lanka Hon. Namal Rajapaksa, the Philippine Ambassador to China H.E. Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana, and Permanent Secretary of Thailand Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation H.E. Prof. Sirirurg Songsivilai, M.D., Ph.D. Their speeches stressed on the importance of key stakeholders’ proactive participation in developing a solid foundation for digital talent ecosystem in the region.

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“The Digital Talent Summit 2021, which aims to discuss and address the needs of ASEAN ICT youth talent, is obviously very relevant, especially in the midst of the global pandemic which forced us to significantly rely more on digital platform. This auspicious event is very much aligned with the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 objective of improving people’s capability to participate in the digital society economy,” said the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Political Security Community H.E. Robert Matheus Michael Tene.

Delivering Keynote address Namal Rajapaksa, Cabinet Minister of Youth and Sports & State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development, Sri Lanka said that “We are delighted to see companies like Huawei are already taking action in cultivating the talents for the region. In Sri Lanka, Huawei helps in providing digital infrastructure of an affordable, high- speed internet access, particularly for students in poor households or remote areas. At the same time, Huawei cooperates with universities to develop ICT students and provided software and hardware required for ICT application development. The joint innovation model has encouraged our students to innovate and conduct research into the cutting-edge technologies in industries such as 5G, AI and cloud-computing.”

“In the future, we look forward to cooperating with Huawei to build an innovative ecosystem bringing ICT knowledge to digital talents and empowering SMEs to better adapt to the digital transformation of our country” Minister Namal Rajapaksa added.

“Innovation and development rely on a talent ecosystem. Huawei is prepared to work with its partners to build a talent development ecosystem conducive to innovation,” Huawei Senior Vice President and Board Member Catherine Chen noted during her opening remarks, “Huawei’s 20 years in Asia Pacific have been a journey to find like-minded friends. Let’s work together to build an inclusive, innovative, and vibrant ecosystem, attract and cultivate more digital talent, and jointly promote the development and prosperity of the region.”

The importance of digital talent in sustainable development was emphasised in the virtual roundtable discussion involving notable speakers from UNESCO, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Maxis.

Another key activity of the summit is presentation of Huawei’s 2022 Asia Pacific Digital Talent Insights. The white paper, which was presented by Senior Consultant for National Digital Talent Development Alex Lee, chronicled the tech company’s efforts and journey in fostering digital talent in Asia Pacific.

“Cultivating innovative ICT talent ecosystem is fundamental to the digital transformation. Leveraging shared innovations with win-win outcomes, we can harness the power of ICT skills to fly us into a digital future. Together with our partners, Huawei will invest $50 million in the next 5 years to develop 500,000 digital talents in the Asia Pacific region,” President of Huawei Asia Pacific Jeffery Liu announced in his keynote speech.

The commitment to bridge digital talent gap in Asia Pacific, in particular ASEAN, was further strengthened with the signing ceremony of Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN Foundation and Huawei ASEAN Academy. The agreement highlights both entities’ readiness to implement ASEAN Seeds for the Future, which is a scaled-up version of Seeds for the Future, Huawei’s global CSR flagship initiative that has been providing world class digital skills training for young people across the globe since 2008. Through ASEAN Seeds for the Future, ASEAN Foundation and Huawei ASEAN Academy strive to build the digital capacities of youth in the ten ASEAN Member States so that they can thrive in the era of digital economy.

The ceremony was attended by Executive Director of ASEAN Foundation Dr. Yang Mee Eng and Vice President of Huawei Indonesia Albert Yang, and witnessed by Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Cambodia to ASEAN H.E. Amb. Yeap SamnangDeputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Political Security Community H.E. Robert Matheus Michael TeneDeputy Permanent Representative of the Philippines to ASEAN Elizabeth TeDeputy Permanent Representative of Republic of Singapore to ASEAN Tham Borg Tsien, and Huawei Asia Pacific Vice President Jay Chen.

Participating online at the event Dr. Pulasthi Gunawardhana – a Senior Lecturer, Department of Information and Communication Technology, Faculty of Technology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura highlighted that Sri Lanka has great potential in digital transformation. In future when 5G rolls out at scale, connectivity, cloud, AI, computing, and industry applications will come together to create opportunities for the ICT sector in the country and region therefore Digital Talent development must be a key area to be focused to generate more employment to younger generations of Sri Lanka. And we appreciate Huawei’s effort and initiatives in digital talent development in Sri Lanka to prepare the future for our local talents.”

The ASEAN Seeds for the Future will also help contribute to achieving the objectives of ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025, which are to increase the capacity of youth in the region to participate in the digital economy and to create a digitally inclusive society in ASEAN. The ASEAN Seeds for the Future is set to launch in early 2022, inviting youth aged 15 – 30 in ASEAN to immerse themselves in a virtual journey of capacity building on leadership and digital skills.

“We are delighted to sign the memorandum of understanding with Huawei to implement ASEAN Seeds for the Future. It is my belief that this wonderful regional programme will play an important part in bridging digital talent gap in the region by equipping our ASEAN youth with essential skills that will enable them to thrive in the era of digital economy. Our partnership with Huawei also signifies another important milestone for ASEAN in regards to bringing in committed partners from private sector to contribute to youth development effort in ASEAN,” said Executive Director of ASEAN Foundation Dr. Yang Mee Eng.

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