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Building a Prosperous ICT Talent Ecosystem

By William Xu, Director of the Board and President of the Institute of Strategic Research, Huawei

The digital economy has captured the imagination of people from around the world. The effect of digital spillover is expected to drive the digital economy to grow 2.5 times as fast as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And so, governments around the world have focused heavily on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development and the digital economy in recent years. More than 170 countries have released digital strategies, and more than 50 countries have Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategies. These strategies stimulate ICT investment, as ICT is seen as the key to sustainable development and economic prosperity. New digital technologies, such as cloud computing and big data, have played an important role in global efforts to combat the pandemic, by supporting monitoring, medical treatment, and material assurance. They have also served as an engine driving industry growth and broader economic recovery. According to McKinsey, the pandemic has accelerated global digitalization by seven years, and digitalization in Asia-Pacific by ten years.

Rapid Digitalization Increases Demand for ICT Talent

ICT empowers multiple industries, which in turn rapidly increases global demand for ICT talent. However, there is not enough ICT talent available. According to Gartner's 2021–2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap for Large Enterprises, IT executives believe that talent shortage is a significant barrier to 64% of emerging technologies. In Gartner's 2020 report, the figure was only 4%. The Talent Exchange Center of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also found in their AI Industry Talent Development Report (2019–2020) that the ratio of talent supply to talent demand is lower than 0.4 for all AI technical positions.

Similarly, the China Employment Training Technical Instruction Center's 2020 Report on the Online Learning Platform for New Professions revealed that over the next five years, there will be nearly 10 million jobs in new professions that the country simply will not be able to fill. The European Union (EU), on the other hand, believes that people with digital skills and digital professionals will lay a foundation for the EU's digital development. Therefore, it plans to equip 65% of its total population with digital skills by 2025, 8% higher than that in 2018. This would increase the number of IT experts in the EU to 500,000, and data professionals to 10.9 million from 5.7 million in 2018.

Colleges and universities are the cradle of talent training, but business also has a role to play in providing the additional support to efficiently train talent. Collaboration between academia and industry will help drive the conversation from theory to practice. Take AI as an example: Over the past 10 years, AI technology has been transformed from an idea in a lab to real-world industry applications, significantly contributing to economic and social development. After we released our full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio, Huawei also launched the Ascend OpenMind Project and Ascend Talent Intern Project, where we've teamed up with more than 500 partners to promote industrial AI applications. The OpenMind and Talent Intern projects not only help enrich the Ascend ecosystem but also accelerate talent training in China. In addition, Huawei's Ascend community shares AI learning resources with global developers. By the end of October 2021, more than 530,000 developers had learned to use new AI technologies through the platform.

Industry-Academia Collaboration Helps Build a Prosperous Talent Training Ecosystem

Talent training cannot rely on just a few companies; multiple parties have to work together to ensure ongoing talent supply. Huawei is working directly with universities on large-scale ICT latent training programs. Digital technologies are complicated, and training ICT talent is challenging because of a lack of teachers and teaching materials, as well as the long training cycles. While universities can provide theory training and teaching resources, Huawei is more than happy to provide use scenarios and opportunities for application practices. This collaboration model helps ensure talent is trained quickly and appropriately to support wide-scale digital transformation.

Huawei has worked with universities to develop more than 1800 Huawei ICT Academies These organizations train more than 3000 teachers annually and have created teaching materials regarding big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and general ICT. In February 2020, Huawei announced the Huawei ICT Academy 2.0 program, which will provide an additional US$50 million in funding for collaboration with universities. This funding will go toward online courses, training, research, and certification. By working with global universities, Huawei hopes to train 2 million new ICT specialists over the next five years, in order to promote robust development of the ICT industry.

We know ICT talent development is not easy; it is something that will require long-term commitment. The world needs a strong ecosystem for talent training, and it's not just individual companies that need ICT talent. Talent will be crucial to national and regional development of the real economy. So we are working on building a platform that links talent demand and supply. As well as providing talent certification and leadership training, we are helping introduce talent to appropriate companies through a mutual-selection model. This helps both individuals and companies. By the end of December 2021, 550,000 people around the world had been certified through Huawei's programs, with more than 17,000 of them receiving a Huawei Certified ICT Expert (HCIE) certification. Huawei ICT Competition has also attracted more than 150,000 global participants per year. This competition encourages university students to learn about ICT, while also helping companies identify talent and contributing to regional digital economies.

We are entering into an intelligent world, and digital technologies are here to benefit everyone. I believe that digital talent will shape the digital future. Huawei will continue building this ICT talent ecosystem, working with governments, industry organizations, and universities to develop best practices. We will continue to promote a talent ecosystem to help train people around the world and create new value for industry.

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Issue 32 — Talent Ecosystem

Creating New Value for Industry with a Prosperous Talent Ecosystem

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