Data, cloud and cyber skillsets a priority for Asia Pacific

By Kate Birch
With APAC facing severe shortages in data, cloud and cybersecurity skillsets, firms like Cisco, Amazon and Microsoft are investing in digital upskilling...

The Asia Pacific region is facing a future with severe shortages in data, cloud and cybersecurity skillsets, according to a new report by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and to combat such shortages, global tech giants such as AWS (Amazon), Microsoft and Cisco are partnering with regional organisatons and institutions to help bridge the digital skills gap. 

According to the report titled 'Unlocking APAC's Digital Potential', between 666 million and 819 million workers in Asia-Pacific will use digital skills by 2025, up from just 149 million today, with the average employee requiring seven new digital skills in order to keep pace with emerging tech and technological advancements. 

By 2025, the region's workers would require 6.8 billion digital skills to carry out their job, up from 1 billion today. This estimates the need for 5.7 billion digital skill trainings over the next five years to ensure the average worker acquires capabilities needed to keep pace with technological advancements. 

There are regional differences, however. The report reveals that while Australia, Singapore and South Korea have the highest proportion of employees using digital skills today, at 64%, 63% and 62%, respectively, and Japan weighs in with 58%, countries like Indonesia and India are far behind with 19% and 12%, respectively. 

Data, cloud and cybersecurity skillsets most in demand

This means that businesses across the Asia Pacific region are likely to face severe talent shortage, if they do not beef up digital reskilling of their workforces, and especially so in the capabilities of data, cloud, and cybersecurity.

Demand for capabilities in designing and refining new cloud architectures is expected to climb 36% in the next five years, the highest growth among all digital skills, while the need for digital workers to create large-scale data models and database technology will surge by 34%. 

The ability to develop digital security and cyber forensics tools and techniques was projected to be in severe shortage by 2025, with 30% of digital workers in Singapore and 48% in India pointing to such skills as necessary to carry out their jobs, but not currently having the skills to properly do so. 

According to organisations interviewed for the report, the shortage of such digital skillsets is the result of the rate of growth in the adoption of cloud and data analytics in the region. 

Demand for skills types differ by market. While Indonesia and South Korea are likely to see the fastest growing demand for advanced digital content creation skills, Japan is expected to see the highest demand jump at 30% for advanced cloud skills, such as migrating firms’ legacy on-premise environment to cloud-based architectures. 

Tech giants step in to help digitally reskill Asia

To boost their employability, the report emphasises the need for students across Asia-Pacific today to be educated in the digital skillsets that are projected to see the largest spikes in demand, specifically in capabilities in data, cybersecurity and cloud.

And global technology companies are stepping up to the digital plate, partnering with regional educators or organisations on digital reskilling initiatives and virtual internships in skills needed.

  • Amazon Web Services AWS announced late last year that by 2025 it would help 29 million people grow their technical skills. To do this, it is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to provide free cloud computing skills training to “people from all walks of life and all levels of knowledge” and in more than “200 countries and territories”, says Teresa Carlson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector at Amazon.

    To date, via AWS Training and Certification, Amazon offers 500 free on-demand digital courses, with 50 launched last year, and available in multiple languages such as Bahasa Indonesia, Japanse, Korean, Simplified and Traditional Chinese. AWS also provides in-person and virtual classroom training courses taught by accredited AWS instructors for workers interested to upskill or reskill and organizations who want to upskill employees, and covering topics like cloud architecture, cybersecurity, and data analytics.
  • Microsoft Tech giant Microsoft has unveiled a number of digital reskilling/upskilling programmes across Asia Pacific, for both students and the workforce, in Indonesia, Malaysia Singapore and Thailand. The company recently announced a partnership with SkillsFuture Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority to launch #GetReadySG initiative, which aims to equip 1,000 people with digital skills; and has also just recently announced plans to strengthen its Berdayakan Ekonomi Digital Indonesia initiative, which aims to accelerate the country’s digital transformation, by committing to skilling an additional 3 million Indonesians in digital future-ready skills to achieve its goal of empowering 24 million by the end of 2021. 
  • Cisco IT leader Cisco has just announced it is partnering with Nasscom FutureSkills Prime and All India Council to offer 20,000 virtual internship opportunities in cybersecurity in India. While India has been the global leader in IT-ITeS, with almost 4.36 million employees, the lack of internship opportunities in the industry hampers the chain of growth affecting the readiness of its workforce to capitalise on new-age technologies.

    An extension of Cisco’s Networking Academy, this programme gives students across India the chance to upskill and reskill with relevant experience and competencies in emerging technologies and is a step “towards realigning the existing talent and emerging technologies, enabling better job opportunities, and ultimately transforming India into a Digital Talent Nation”, says Sameer Garde, President India and Saarc, Cisco. 


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