By Emmanuel Pillai, Head of AWS Education and Training, ASEAN, AWS,
Asia-Pacific’s (APAC’s) digital journey is rapidly gaining momentum fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which remote work and learning normalized and innovation became critical. However, the region is facing a digital skills shortage that is growing daily along with APAC’s accelerated digital transformation. This widening skills gap threatens the region’s growth, and to meet the surging demand for digitally skilled workers, six economies in the region will require 670 million additional digital workers by 2025. This represents a whopping five-fold increase in the region’s digital workforce.
To fully benefit from the economic growth that digitization promises in the next year, we need a workforce that is equipped with relevant skills. Cloud skills programs are urgently required, and all corners of the economy will need to contribute, including governments, the education sector, private companies, and nonprofits. Here are some trends we believe will help shape the future of learning and skills development in IT in the region in the next year.
Retaining Talent Supersedes Hiring New Talent
As more organizations move their IT to the cloud across APAC, the need for cloud skills to accelerate this digital transformation continues to increase. For example, to get the most out of cloud, organizations need “cloud architects” with the skills to design resilient, secure, and highly available IT solutions. According to PwC’s 20th CEO Survey, more than 50% of APAC CEOs say it’s difficult to hire digital talent with the right skills. Furthermore, IDC predicts that this year, the monetary losses resulting from IT skills gaps will be $775 billion worldwide.
Across APAC, close to 150 million workers in six countries (Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea) apply digital skills like cloud architecture design in their jobs today, of which about six in 10 apply advanced digital skills like machine learning. And to meet the pace of technological change, the average worker in these economies will need to gain seven new digital skills by 2025.
The pandemic has made things more difficult for companies when it comes to hiring new talent. For many, working remotely has highlighted the possibility of changing careers, and more workers are questioning their quality of life at work, choosing to leave their jobs in search of more purpose-driven and balanced work. This added complexity to recruiting new staff only makes the digital skills divide deeper.
To meet the accelerating demand for skilled workers, organizations across APAC are increasing employee training opportunities and will continue to do so in 2022. From designating specific training days to investing in a phased training approach based on individual learning needs, targeted and specific training opportunities are becoming a key method for retaining top talent and training rising stars. Organizations that are intentional about providing training and career-growth opportunities will continue to see a corporate return on that investment, from increased customer spend and higher close rates, to sales-cycle acceleration and improvements in customer retention.
In APAC, organizations are taking the initiative to build training environments that address the skills gap. To drive a culture of experimentation and accelerate innovation, Australian retailer Target launched a company-wide AWS Skills Guild in 2019. A comprehensive enablement program, the AWS Skills Guild, builds cloud skills and has enabled Target’s technical employees to achieve an AWS Certification. As a result of the organization-wide cloud training, employees from different teams can more easily collaborate and translate customer needs into solvable issues for technical staff.
Skills Training as the Innovation Enabler
The pandemic has changed the rules of the innovation race. Meeting customer needs now requires being nimble, adaptable, and resilient to pivot quickly and adjust to unforeseen circumstances. At AWS, we hear from CEOs and CTOs regularly that their most important customer metric is “time to value” —regardless of the industry. Increasing this metric requires experimentation, which starts with making sure your team has the right skills.
While it isn’t complicated, building an environment that encourages continuous learning does take time. However, those that are intentional about providing training and career-growth opportunities find that they lead to greater empowerment to innovate with whatever new service or product is launched next. Plus, with over 50% of IT professionals reporting a lack of learning and development as a main reason for changing employers, providing training opportunities will also lead to increased retention.
To build a culture of cloud innovation, Korean Air, the largest airline and flag carrier of South Korea based on fleet size, introduced the AWS Innovation Builder Program during its cloud migration to give employees the right skill sets to become data- and customer-centric and create a cloud-first culture. As part of this company-wide effort, Korean Air equipped 500 employees with basic cloud technology skills and brought the business and technology teams together to validate new ideas with speed and agility.
Personalized Training Becomes the Standard
In the post-pandemic world, gone are the days of straight-out-of-the-box, once-a-year training for teams. Instead, to keep pace with innovation and remain competitive, organizations are turning to personalized and agile digital training experiences to create a culture of continuous learning. In fact, 87% of organizations that have invested in digital skills training say they benefited by being able to fast-track their journey to digital transformation.
Through a combination of instruction, technology and digital content, personalized training is becoming the new standard of training for keeping employees engaged and their skills fresh. Personalized training removes the one-size-fits-all approach ensuring employees are training according to their specific needs. This improved training results in increases in confidence among employees and leads to a more innovative and collaborative work environment.
Techcombank, one of Vietnam’s largest banks, is leveraging AWS training programs for 700 employees. Self-paced digital training on cloud fundamentals will be made available to all employees of the bank. AWS training offers live classes with instructors, which will help upskill 2,000 participants over the next two years. Techcombank will offer foundational training like the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner course to non-technical staff, while technical training in intermediate to advanced topics including architecting, developing, machine learning, and security will be available for all technical staff working closer to the cloud migration. These new capabilities are intended to help the bank become more responsive to customer needs and facilitate the rapid development of innovative new products and services that help Vietnamese individuals, businesses, and corporations grow.
Cloud Skills Training Moves Beyond the IT Dept
In today’s global business environment, you’d be hard-pressed to find many roles that don’t require some technology expertise to complete the task. Organizations are finding that building cloud expertise empowers people in sales, marketing, finance, HR, and beyond to see opportunities, streamline operations, increase agility, and reduce overall costs. In fact, in a recent survey, 83% of tech workers and 76% of non-tech workers who participated in skills training felt that such training has improved their employability by allowing them to keep up to date with the latest technologies. For example, business systems analysts can use the cloud to find new opportunities for growth, and program managers can incorporate cloud software into their overall strategy execution.
In 2022, as interest and implementation in cloud migration grows, organizations will increasingly turn to a whole-of-organization approach to ensuring their employees, regardless of department, understand the role that the cloud plays within the organization’s overall business strategy.
Digitization has the power to drive economies, build wealth, and alleviate poverty. The opportunity that digital transformation offers, however, begins with skilled workers, and we encourage industry and government to take action this year. Training APAC’s workforce is a team sport – everyone needs to tackle the issue together with training programs that are tailored to every level of technical proficiency and every budget.