APRU on China Daily: Your seat at the table depends on how innovative you are
Original post in China Daily. Innovate or perish is the new slogan. If you don’t innovate, you don’t invent and if you don’t invent you are out of the race. Gone are the days of captive consumption in an isolated world. Today, we are talking about global economies that transcend borders and if you have nothing new on the plate, you are doomed. A few days back, there were reports that technological innovation is going to see renewed impetus in China. The State Council has said that the government will publish a list of core scientific projects and seek help from researchers for the same on a voluntary basis. In addition, it will also look at developing policy tools to more efficiently select and allocate funding to potentially groundbreaking research projects. In a nutshell, what this means is that the Chinese government is not only planning to seek the help of the private sector, but also allocating more resources to emerging new technologies to unlock new growth strategies, say experts. Nidhi Gupta, a senior technology analyst at GlobalData, a UK-based data and analytics company, tells me that China’s technological advances in recent years can largely be attributed to the government’s proactive policies and strategies. “China has been promoting the development and use of emerging technologies through a supportive policy framework, setting up large-scale funding of research, and attractive incentives for tech entrepreneurs. The country has also put multiyear strategies in place to upgrade its digital infrastructure and achieve technology independence. In addition, the government’s five-year plans for science and technology innovation and ‘Made in China 2025’ have been instrumental in driving its ascendancy on the innovation front,” says Nidhi. Belunn Se, an industry observer based in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, tells me that technology innovation is necessary for China to vitalize its domestic economy and reinforce industry strength. It will also help the country as it moves up the value chain and bolsters its supply chains. Several stakeholders need to be involved in a systematic manner for the success of tech innovation, he says. The primary role must be played by the government as an organizer of resources, guide and supervisor. Colleges and universities are also necessary for fundamental scientific research and development, and talent cultivation. Top academic research institutes can play a big role in China’s efforts to reduce its dependence on external sources for cutthroat technologies like semiconductor production equipment, he says. Policies should also focus on improving the funding avenues for tech firms and scaling up their commercialization by market mechanism. “It is important to ensure that elementary education and basic sciences play a crucial role in fostering innovation,” says Se. Christopher Tremewan, secretary general of APRU, a consortium of 56 leading universities headquartered in Hong Kong, tells me that as countries commit more resources to technological innovation, it is important to ensure that new discoveries are directed at the common challenges. “Techno-nationalism will fall short of solving global crises. It is the universities that do much of the fundamental research that lies behind solutions. Organizations like the APRU are the neutral platforms for cooperation among major research universities across international borders, basically, as a forum that builds trust and a renewed commitment to multilateralism.” Tremewan says that universities in Hong Kong are already playing a pivotal role in using their research expertise to foster technological innovation. In the Asia-Pacific region, universities are vital in understanding and preparing for complex problems from extreme climate events to the COVID-19 pandemic. The key, though, is to leverage the best research and ensure that the increases in public funding have maximum impact for the common good, thereby building trust and cooperation internationally, he says. China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), which is due to be ratified by the National People’s Congress, is expected to give top priority to science, technology and innovation, and recognize them as critical to achieving technology self-reliance. The plan is based on dual circulation with the emphasis on internal circulation: domestic technology development, production, and consumption. “With this new five-year plan, China is marking a strategic shift in priorities towards national and industrial security and is set to become increasingly self-sufficient technologically and less reliant on exporting to the West,” says Nidhi from GlobalData. While the draft plan does not specify what technologies will gain focus over the next five years, it however makes it clear that investments in technology will continue to grow, and will focus on frontier fields like artificial intelligence, integrated circuits, aerospace technology, quantum computing, deep earth and sea exploration, adds Nidhi. China has already done well in pioneering and upgrading innovation, like high-speed railways and some 5G-enabled technologies. But in the long term, fundamental breakthroughs are necessary as only such moves can trigger profound effects to the economy and industry, pretty much like how the invention of electricity and computers changed human life, says Se.
March 27, 2021more
Accelerating Indonesia’s Human Capital Transformation for Future of Work
The final in a series of dissemination events presenting the policy recommendations and research from The Transformation of Work project took place on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Christina Schönleber, Director (Policy and Programs) talked in the opening of the Forum about the research conducted by APRU on the impact of automation on the future work on the society and the economies across the Asia Pacific region. The research is available in the APRU published book titled “Transformation of Work in Asia-Pacific in the 21st Century”. Digitalization and automation are transforming the world on unprecedented scale and speed, and the impacts are felt in all levels of society. Additionally, recent technological advances such as AI-driven innovation and machine learning require a new set of skills for the future workforce. The future workforce will see the transformation of jobs as technological change creates surpluses of workers and skills in some occupations while creating demands for new skills and jobs in others. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), supported by Google, has conducted a serial of discussions and policy recommendations under Forum Kebijakan Ketenagakerjaan (FKK), a multi-stakeholder platform in labor issues through discussion and dissemination. Yose Rizal Damuri (CSIS) opened the public seminar and introduce FKK which is to stimulate discussion, accommodate multi-stakeholders perspectives and formulate policy recommendations from evidence-based research. The forum has been successfully held and produce some fruitful debates among researchers, policymakers, the private sector and labor unions. After that, Christina Schönleber (APRU) explains that APRU has conducted a research on the impact of automation on the future work on the society and the economies across the Asia Pacific and held discussions between academia, governments, and industries. The objectives of the projects are to understand digital technology, automation challenges and benefits in relation to the future of work; inform the discussion among researchers, policy-makers and civil society on possible direction and solutions; and publish and widely disseminate a data-driven study with key focus on APAC region. Faizal Yahya (National University of Singapore) explains that Singapore has a tiny workforce and an aging demographic. There is a growing fear of losing jobs and influx of foreign laborers which creates a negative impression that their jobs are taken away by foreigners. Also, it is necessary to create new jobs for old workers or to reskill them. To prepare for the changes in the future. The government has undertaken several initiatives. First, the government launched SkillsFuture in 2015 to give training to graduates and provide courses for reskilling especially for mature workers under the Ministry of Education. From the demand side, the Committee of Future Economy (CFE) created an Industry Transformation Map (ITM) and assigned different agencies to help different industries sectors since there are more SMEs than larger companies in Singapore. Thirdly, to support the manufacturing sector, the government establish Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI), which helps companies to architect their industry 4.0 roadmap through The Prioritization Matrix. Lastly, the government tried to solve the mature workers’ problem through Workforce Singapore (WSG) Adapt and Grow Initiative. The Forum hosted speakers from Asian Institute of Management, National University of Singapore (NUS), The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), in addition to a number of Indonesian educational organizations. The speakers addressed important topics related to the impact of recent technological advances (i.e. AI-driven innovation, machine learning, etc.) on the workforce. They highlighted main challenges faced by the workforce including obsolete education material, expiration of skills in the light of rapid technological changes, and heavy rates of young unemployment in Indonesia. “Education will have to be reimagined”, said Jikeyong Kang from the Asian Institute of Management. The interactive talk-show panel drew participants’ attention to developing solutions to the discussed challenges. The expansion of the Indonesian Government effort to keep the education system updated and relevant to the industry demands was suggested. Meanwhile, continuous training of existing workforce is necessary to keep up with technological trends and deal with the lack of talent in certain fields.
January 13, 2020more
Automation and the Transformation of Work in Asia-Pacific in the 21st Century
July 31, 2019more
APRU Partners to Close the Digital Skills Gap at APEC
APRU members participated in the APEC Closing the Digital Skills Gap Forum, held in Singapore in mid-July. The forum gathered representatives from 16 APEC economies to explore policy options that can strengthen digital skills and the digital economy, with Project DARE taking central stage. APRU members participating in the forum were Bernard Tan, Senior Vice Provost of the National University of Singapore; Fidel Nemazo, Vice Chancellor for Research and Development of the University of Philippines (UP); Eugene Rex Jalao, Associate Professor of University of the Philippines; and Kar Yan Tam, Dean of the School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). “With the imminent need to facilitate the transition of workforce in the age of disruption, Project DARE provides a tripartite platform for governments, academia and business across the APEC economies to discuss human capital development in data science and analytics,” said Kar Yan Tam. “This platform connects all of us closely together to manage the transformation wisely,” he added. Project DARE (abbreviation of data analytics raising employment) is an APEC initiative seeking to facilitate development of a data science and analytics (DSA)-enabled workforce across the APEC region to address the skills shortage in DSA. The Closing the Digital Skills Gap survey launched by the forum and prepared by Wiley, an education and professional training solutions provider, showed that 75 per cent of respondents – comprised of employers, government officials, and academics – perceive the existence of a significant skills mismatch. At the forum, participants finalized a roadmap to support and scale-up skills development and reskilling programs carried out by employers, governments, and educational institutions across APEC. Tam explained how HKUST has leveraged the Recommended APEC Data Science & Analytics Competencies to inform curriculum in data science and technology, including a full undergraduate degree track. Fellow APRU member Jalao highlighted Philippine projects in high-impact investments in digital upskilling and reskilling, including an ambitious pilot model to train 30,000 workers over three years led by the Analytics Association of the Philippines (AAP). Indeed, the pilot project has been one of the first models to implement the Recommended APEC Data Science & Analytics Competencies. The Project DARE timeline for 2018 entailed more than 60 participants sharing models how to bridge the digital skills gap, as well as the development of case studies on Recommended APEC Data and Science & Analytics (DSA) Competencies. On the 2019 timeline are the presentation, finalization and beginning implementation of a collective version and roadmap in APEC to support efforts to upskill and reskill at scale. Implementation of the roadmap is envisioned for the 2020-2025 period.
July 20, 2019more