Huawei aims to cultivate half a million people in relevant ICT skills in the coming five years, as part of an expansive US$150 million commitment.

One way Huawei is doing so is to establish a network of academies across the region. The academy is now established in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Bengal and Nepal and more of such similar set-ups are planned.

“Digital skills are seen as essential for the future,” says Yuan Ping, director, Huawei Asia Academy (Huawei ASEAN Academy), in an interview. 

“In order to satisfy this need, the academy aims to help cultivate innovative talent for these areas in Asia Pacific,” she adds.

The shortage of talent with the right skills for the increasingly digital economies of today can be seen in a couple of different perspectives.

Human resource consultancy Korn Ferry believes that Asia Pacific is facing an imminent labour shortage of 47 million people by 2030 and an annual opportunity cost of US$4.2 trillion. 

Similarly, more than half of the Asia Pacific respondents to PwC’s 20th CEO Survey say they find it difficult to hire digital talent with the right skills.

According to Yuan, the courses are taught in various formats. 

For example, some sessions are purely online, not just because of the convenience but also because of limitations imposed by the on-going pandemic. 

There are also offline sessions at the various course venues dotting the region.

The courses taught at the academy fall into three main domains. 

First, business, where the attendees are likely executives, regulators and other managers. They will learn new industry trends in the fields of ICT, and be imparted with various best practices on how to better manage and how to lead digital organisations.

Another broad domain is that of technical. The academy will help to certify and conduct capability assessments for relevant technical personnel on their mastery in the domains of networking, cloud computing, big data, AI, and also the various operating systems.

Last but not least, will be on engineering, where there’s a bigger focus on actual hands-on of the gears and equipment commonly used.

Out of the US$150 million Huawei is committing, some of the funding will go towards various programmes meant to give start-ups and local businesses a leg up in developing their products and services and to develop and capture new markets. 

Part of the funding will also go to various universities and educational institutes to fund joint research activities and programmes.

The academy won’t just limit the participants to Huawei’s direct business partners or customers. 

The company, having put in place its “leave no one behind” strategy, aims to reach out to a wider spectrum of people ranging from small business owners to even individuals that are disadvantaged in certain ways, so that they can have a fair shot at the opportunities available.

The courses delivered at the academy are taught by around 100 Huawei’s own employees who are the subject matter experts of their respective fields.

However, Huawei, for all its heft, recognizes that talent development is a bigger issue that is best addressed via joint efforts. As such it is partnering with numerous universities across the region and also other experts.

“We can’t do it alone, and so, we need local partners to help support and build this ecosystem of talent development,” says Yuan, who was strategy assistant to president of Huawei Asia Pacific region before taking on this role.

With such a significant commitment, by any measure, how is Huawei planning to measure the success of the academy?

The way Yuan sees it, running this academy is a very meaningful endeavour which the company is very willing to do.

She notes that for more than two decades, the company has been building the ICT infrastructure for many markets. 

Even so, the company recognizes that a lot more can be done, as the environment changes and as having more digital skills will help individuals contribute more economically.

“We want to help them adapt and enjoy the benefits of ICT and digitalization. If these countries are successful, it is a success for us too,” says Yuan.

Photo: Huawei