The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rise of the digital economy, thereby effectively amplifying the digital skills gap. There is a great urgency for all stakeholders, including governments, employers, academia to invest in digital upskilling and reskilling of the workforce, as digital skills become integral to the future of work and post-COVID-19 recovery. 75 million young people are out of work worldwide, yet at the same time, reports estimate that in 2020 the world will face a shortage of 38 – 40 million highly skilled workers. At the top of the skills shortage in Asia-Pacific economies are digitally skilled workers. According to a 2019 survey on closing the digital skills gap, 75 per cent of respondents – comprised of employers, government officials, and academics – report a significant skills mismatch. Without more upskilling programs to improve digital expertise, the survey reveals, many workers may lose their jobs to automation.
The APEC Closing the Digital Skills Gap Forum, overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor and co-chaired by Wiley and Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF), has brought together over 400 stakeholders from 18 Asia Pacific economies since 2017 to collaboratively work towards closing the digital skills gap. Launched in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, this initiative builds upon the previous work of APEC’s Project DARE (Data Analytics Raising Employment), convening an Advisory Board of employers, universities, and governments from 14 economies to identify a set of industry-driven Recommended APEC Data Science & Analytics Competencies and Recommendations for Action. In 2018, Project DARE held a workshop to share case studies of how the recommendations are being implemented. The participants also identified where further collective action is needed and identified initial elements of a roadmap. In 2019, the APEC Closing the Digital Skills Gap Forum presented, finalized, and began implementing a collective vision and roadmap in APEC to support efforts to upskill and reskill at scale. Work in 2020 will continue these efforts to track progress made in the roadmap and help APEC economies amidst COVID-19 through developing the following deliverables.
2020 Deliverables for the APEC Closing the Digital Skills Gap Initiative:
–A Digital Readiness Checklist to help APEC governments, employers, and academia develop their levels of preparedness for jobs in the digital age to upskill and reskill workers amidst COVID-19, led by Wiley and finalized at the 2021 Forum
– APEC Closing the Digital Skills Gap Report: Trends and Insights, perspectives on the supply and demand of digital skills and degree of digitalization led by Burning Glass Technologies and LinkedIn
For more information please contact: Mr. Christopher Watson (Initiative Overseer), U.S. Department of Labor, Watson.Christopher@dol.gov
Survey results showing a lack of coordination between government, employers, and academia (below).