Preventing Digital Skill Shortfall through Interdisciplinary Collaboration
November 28, 2018

APEC Project DARE in partnership with APRU held their 2018 workshop on October 7-8 at HKUST Business School Central, ahead of the 16th APRU Senior International Leaders’ Meeting. The topic of low supply of highly skilled workforce in an increasingly technology-driven APEC economies was a key focus of the agenda.

Project DARE 2018 Workshop in HKUST Business School Central

Over 60 participants from 16 APEC economies, including 14 experts from APRU member institutions, attended the two-day workshop. Launched under the “2017 APEC Framework on Human Resources Development in the Digital Age,” Project DARE – Data Analytics Raising Employment – convened an advisory board of business, government and academic leaders to identify a set of industry-driven Recommended APEC Data Science and Analytics Competencies(DSA) and Recommendations for Action.

Examples featured at the workshop included:

  • the successful application of early education strategies
  • individually adaptive, low cost artificial intelligence-based math learning platforms
  • workplace experience integration in high school and college science, technology, engineering and math courses
  • lifelong learning instruction

“The lack of personnel skilled in data management and use is already costing economies in the region billions in lost productivity,” noted Professor Kar Yan Tam, Dean and Chair Professor of the HKUST Business School. “Without a rapid response, things could get far more problematic for businesses and workers.”

Professor Kar Yan Tam, Dean and Chair Professor of the HKUST Business School

Workshop participants also identified how APEC could carry forward large-scale digital upskilling and reskilling efforts. These included creating an APEC compendium of digital skills definitions, convening an annual APEC forum to share how demand in digital skills was evolving and setting ambitious APEC goals to close the digital skills gap by 2025.

APRU Secretary General, Dr. Christopher Tremewan, contributed to the workshop dicussion by emphasizing on the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in preventing this emerging digital skills shortfall.

“There must be true collaboration between industry and academia characterized by resource sharing, data sharing, training modules on both industry and academic sides, as well as investment of time for the closing of research gaps, in terms of what is working in skills development side and the policy development side. As technology moves so quickly, institutions need to keep up with technology, but at the same time they need to focus on the fundamental skills necessary for interdisciplinary collaboration for broad fields, such as DSA,” said Dr. Tremewan.

Project DARE’s “Recommendations for Action” urges employers to increase leadership-level awareness of the value of DSA to business competitiveness and accurately signal employer needs, such as better job profiles, with a focus on DSA-enabled workers. Furthermore, it calls on employers, academia, and governments to undertake joint workforce-planning initiatives, across all stakeholders, to map employer or economic needs and define educational pathways, such as apprenticeships, vocational education and other industry engagement opportunities, supported by government policies, to incentivize employer-academia partnerships.

Since 2017, youth unemployment has been rising steadily in the Asia Pacific. By 2020, the global shortage of highly-skilled workers is expected to reach 38-40 million. The diversity of the APEC region creates the necessity for APRU to fulfill its role as a platform for upskilling and the tailoring of an adaptive education curriculum through partners in education, industry, and government.

An impressive case study featured at the meeting is that of Didi Chuxing, a leading mobile transportation platform and one of the fastest growing companies in China.

According to the author of the case study, Dr. Leju Ma, Didi allows over 30.66 million drivers to find flexible work and income opportunities by creating an open and collaborative cross-border knowledge and research network that cultivates young professionals in the fields of big data and intelligent driving—an example of what can be achieved when employers and universities cooperate in preparing the workforce for the digital age.

Project DARE is an employer-driven approach to prepare the youth workforce for a data-driven future. A booklet of the case studies, showcasing how the “Recommendations for Action” are being executed around the world was shared at the workshop.

Please see the official APEC News Article: APEC Tackles Alarming Skills Shortfall here.

Please see 2018 Project DARE photo here.