June 6, 2016Michael Sutherland-Shaw
Rather than fighting against technological change, countries in South-East Asia must identify ways of taking advantage and prospering from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
That was the message heard loud and clear during the 25th World Economic Forum on ASEAN last week.
For George Yeo, visiting scholar at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore advances in technology offer opportunities to increasing productivity, creating new business models and driving fresh growth.
“How can you not be optimistic when you have 630 million and more than half of them are young people – creative, connected and collaborating to create value for the region?” asked Shahril Shamsuddin, president and group chief executive officer of SapuraKencana Petroleum in Malaysia.
However, some are concerned about those who would be disrupted by the technology change, particularly those who are not “digital natives” (young people who were born and have grown up in a connected world).
Yeo echoed that sentiment, “when we talk about an inclusive economy, our fear is not that the young will be included but that the not-so-young won’t be.”
So how does a country or region harness digital technology to create an inclusive economy?
The answer is education.
According to the WEF report, the region’s young demographic and the challenges posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean exploring new ways of teaching and learning as well as promoting public-private partnerships in skills development are extremely important going forward.
Kathleen Chew, Group Legal Counsel of the YTL Corporation in Malaysia believes there needs to be a focus on education for both the young and old, so they can cope with digital change and the uncertain future.
“The goal is to find ways to help students and workers develop skills for 21st-century competence – such as the capacity for collaboration, communications, empathy and openness. People must have the tools and the inclusive environments that will allow them to be creative.”
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