Smarter citizens in a smarter world

Daniel Ng of Cloudera talks about how government, institutions and businesses in the region can work together to create a connected ecosystem for skills training and development.

Of course, all this just a glimpse of the potential that data and technology can bring and how they can positively impact our lives. As industries and entire cities become smarter, people's lives are going to transform accordingly. 

Data skills as the real competitive advantage

While the use of data and technology for businesses has grown quickly and universally, the Asia Pacific region is still behind the curve in terms of skilling up workers for the new economy and world.

In Singapore, as the government embarks on its Smart Nation journey, another 15,000 IT specialists will be required next year as fields such as cybersecurity, data analytics and application development ramp up in hiring. Based on current graduation trends, this means that the country will find itself in a shortage of professionals with the suitable IT skills required.

This is not just a problem specific to Singapore. Analysts have identified that the lack of talent with data skills is one of the biggest obstacles for organisations in Asia Pacific.

This gap clearly needs to be filled as businesses and governments realise that data or technology skills is now where the real competitive advantage lies. Just like how all the 'Smarter World' initiatives have begun from the top (with support from governments and business leaders jumping on the bandwagon), our leaders are also recognizing and implementing programs that will help the workforce of the future acquire these desirable skills.

For example, the Singapore government recently pushed out a SkillsFuture movement where citizens are provided with opportunities to develop their fullest potential regardless of which life stage they are at - students, new to the workforce, at mid-career or retired. The aim is for people to gain skills and ultimately drive Singapore's next phase of development towards an advanced economy and inclusive society. The movement will also help people gain the necessary Infocomm Technology (ICT) skills to enhance industries contributing to Singapore's economic and social growth.

A holistic approach to a smarter everything

With the digitalisation of essentially everything, the ability to make smarter decisions and take data-driven action will become a necessity for everyone, no matter if you are in the public or private sector.

Besides adjusting classroom learnings and making sure that students and workers get the necessary training and are more technologically-enabled, the movement will also require governments and academic institutions to work together with relevant industry players. This means placing students entering the industry into the right roles. It means the entire ecosystem needs to work in unison.

As part of a connected ecosystem, academic and training institutions will be able to quickly fine tune their curriculum and training syllabus according to demands in the industries. Students will learn relevant skills that are in demand, and academics and industry players will be able to plan ahead and mitigate any labor shortages.

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