Increasingly, individuals and employers in Asia are out of sync with skills and jobs, following the global trend that stems from digital disruption and changing economic conditions in the new Covid world.
To operate effectively in the new world, employers require new skill sets like digitalization, data analytics, and automation, and the skills that individuals possess are coming up short. To put it simply: There’s a growing mismatch between skills and jobs.
Long before the global pandemic struck, there were worries that digitalization would favor jobs growth, requiring skills that most of the current workforce lacks. As we look beyond the post-pandemic world, the difference becomes even more stark. For example, the Singapore Emerging Stronger Taskforce Report envisions a “Virtually unlimited Singapore” pointed to new economic growth sectors that diverse talents and skill sets must fuel. We expect this not just to be a Singapore trend but a global trend.
Need for new digital skills
To prepare the workforce to keep pace with technological change, the number of workers in need of new digital skills in Asia-Pacific countries will increase more than five-fold: from 149 million workers today to 819 million workers in 2025, according to a report by Amazon Web Services (AWS) on the digital skills needs in the region.
Advanced cloud computing and data skills, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and machine learning skills will become more important for current digitally skilled workers and future workers — today’s students. The need for these new digital skills is projected to triple by 2025.
Access to learning
For many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, access to learning can greatly depend on connectivity and mobile penetration.
Southeast Asia is home to some of the fastest-growing digital economies. According to a recent study by The World Bank, Indonesian adults with access to the internet have increased from 13 percent in 2011 to 51 percent in 2019. Indonesians who are connected to the internet are among the most engaged users in the world, spending up to six hours a day online.
According to a 2020 global mobile operators industry survey, 2.8 billion people in the Asia-Pacific region are subscribed to mobile services and will grow to three billion (70% of the population) by 2025.
New online learners
Southeast Asia underwent an irreversible change during the COVID-19 pandemic: the shift from the physical to the digital world.
The internet economy in the largest economies in the region — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand — is expected to surpass $300 billion by 2025, according to a report from Google, Temasek Holdings, and Bain & Company.
The findings “showed that over a third of consumers are new to digital platforms, and over 90% say they intend to continue using those platforms after the pandemic,” according to Florian Hoppe of Bain & Co. in an online commentary.
“Fifty-five percent of users of online education services were new to the services in 2020,” he added.
Kydon launches US$1m creator grant
The pandemic disruption forced many to quickly adopt technology to stay connected with work and family. Emerging from these fresh digital converts are self-directed learners who are aware of a changing world and are now actively seeking to upskill and reskill with online learning.
EdTech is positioning global subject matter experts as the vital link between knowledge and these new, hungry learners.
Committed to solving the skills crisis that is threatening the future of work, Kydon Group — one of Asia’s top learning technology companies — announced a US$1 million skills development fund to rally global online educators and subject experts to join the effort in creating the right learning right now for the Asia-Pacific workforce.
“We are calling on global online educators to help us connect the dots,” said Thomas Paris, Chief Learning Architect for Kydon.
“Creators devote themselves to designing industry-defining courses, and our mission is to get these valuable resources in front of those who need it most — around the world, starting with the booming Asian market.”
ZilLearn is an innovative workforce EdTech platform by Kydon Group. For more than a decade, Kydon created complex learning solutions for the public and private sectors. Kydon is now focused on its core mission of building human capacity and making learning accessible to all.
With ZilLearn, knowledge experts, learners, and enterprises come together in a skills and training ecosystem that makes learning available and accessible for everyone.
Brought forth by a Singapore government Edtech taskforce, ZilLearn is curating relevant global learning content with insight into job demand in Singapore and beyond.
ZilLearn allows knowledge experts to adapt existing learning content easily to the platform.
Online course creators are reaching new learning communities in Asia with an urgent need to upskill and reskill for jobs.
“It’s quite an easy platform to use. I have been able to create online courses that are quickly published, and the software has many of the features I needed,” said British educator and learning technologist Steve Wheeler.
ZilLearn’s subscription plan for learners launches in December 2021.
“We aim to offer this subsidized subscription plan to one million Singaporeans by 2024,” said Kydon’s Chief Strategy Officer Sandy Ng.
Asia’s old school of learning
Mid-careerists are at the highest risk when it comes to tackling skills challenges. Many are struggling to make the transition forced on them by the hastened digitalization of the workplace.
“They have expected to live under the former paradigm — go through formal education from primary, secondary to tertiary level, get into a job, stay there, and retire — based on the skill sets they learned from school,” said Tze Chin Ong, chief executive of SkillsFuture Singapore, at a virtual forum on human capital development in Southeast Asia organized by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Imbalances by skill types also need to be taken into consideration. For example, in many Asian-Pacific countries, while there may be competencies in technical skills, there is a shortage of talent with soft skills.
Online learners are looking for problem-solving and effective communication skills, along with domain-specific courses.
Why fix the skills mismatch?
The ramifications of skills mismatch impact all levels of the labor market.
Individuals face wage penalties for overqualification that eventually affects both job and life satisfaction. When people receive training and can’t find a job that matches their skill level, they are not working at their full productivity potential. Conversely, any lack of skills will limit the chances of finding a job altogether.
Skills mismatch for companies hurts productivity, compromising their ability to release new products and services. Skills mismatch causes higher staff turnover. Eventually, skills mismatch results in the loss of profits and market share.
For countries, the skills mismatch — in addition to rising unemployment — will affect competitiveness and attractiveness to foreign investors. When public or private resources are invested in training with the assumption that skills qualifications will yield positive results in terms of employment insertion or wages.
But if a skills mismatch is present, efforts in training are wasted, leading to lower returns on training investment.
To tackle these mismatches and imbalances, policymakers, employers and individuals need to focus on education and labor market alignment and adopt skills matching approaches to ensure that no one is left behind.
“The best protection against automation is to build the skills of our population,” said Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the OECD.
Are you an online educator and course creator and want to learn more? Contact Kydon’s Chief Learning Architect Thomas Paris by submitting this form for more information. Don’t forget to click submit: