Developing digital skills is essential to remain relevant in the post-pandemic labour market
Written by Dave Woodward, Vice President, Regional General Counsel and Head of Public Policy, APAC, LinkedIn and Bruno Carrasco, Director General, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Asian Development Bank (ADB).
As one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, Asia and the Pacific (APAC) has witnessed rapid digitisation in recent years. While the trend was evident before the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic catalysed a dramatic acceleration in the demand for digital skills and jobs.
According to the International Data Corporation, nearly 65% of GDP in the APAC region will be digitised by 2022. This transformation will require a workforce across industries with basic, intermediate and advanced digital skills.
Understanding the requirement for digital skills
To assess the labour market patterns and demands in the current era, LinkedIn and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) partnered to prepare the report Digital Jobs and Digital Skills: A Shifting Landscape in Asia and the Pacific. The report extensively analyses the current employment landscape and demand for digital skills that will drive the next wave of regional economic development.
Based on data from LinkedIn’s Economic Graph and a digital credentials survey commissioned by ADB, we studied digital job hiring trends using data from LinkedIn’s Economic Graph – covering India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, with Australia, Singapore and the US as developed economy benchmarks – and a digital credentials survey commissioned by ADB that covered Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, with the US as the benchmark country.
We also looked at three key sectors expected to drive APAC’s growth: renewable energy, e-learning and smart cities. We found that while not everyone needs to be a data scientist, foundational digital literacy is a prerequisite for nearly all job profiles across industries and regions.
Here are some highlights from the report:
Growth of digital hiring – In the last five years, the demand for digital skills has grown astronomically. From January 2017 to February 2020, the digital hiring rate on the LinkedIn platform (the proportion of LinkedIn members who list digital skills in their profile and indicate a change in the employer that month) had increased by an average of 9 percentage points year-on-year across APAC economies covered in this report.
Digital literacy is a prerequisite – Employers have added basic digital literacy to essential requirements for 8 out of 10 job roles in the past year. Based on findings from LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, workers with intermediate or advanced digital skills were much more in demand than those with only basic digital skills. In Singapore, the difference in the average proportion of hires with advanced digital skills over basic digital skills was 23 percentage points.
Demand for programming skills – Structured Query Language (SQL) and Java are skills most in demand across jobs and industries. This indicates the broad applicability and relevance of these fundamental programming skills. Employers can benefit from adopting more flexible approaches to hiring programming talent, including by identifying talent skilled through online, micro and modular learning, as opposed to more traditional degree programs. Among all respondents to the digital credentials survey commissioned by ADB, 89% agreed that digital credentials would become a critical part of higher education going forward.
Smart cities and e-learning industries require more digital skills – Digital talent comprises 75% of the e-learning industry and 70% of the smart cities industry but only 56% of the renewable energy sector. In renewable energy, more attention is paid to increasing the use of data to optimise business, plant, and manufacturing processes, as well as to enable smart grids and energy optimization.
Mind the gender gap – Males dominate the smart city and renewable energy industries, but e-learning has a better gender balance. E-learning tends to have lower barriers to entry in terms of skills, work flexibility, and social acceptance, indicating progress toward gender parity. However, developing policies that encourage participation of women across growing industries, such as smart cities and renewable energy, is essential.
The way forward
The COVID-19 pandemic effectuated a drastic change in how people work globally. Digital transformation across APAC economies is driving demand for digital jobs and skills at unprecedented rates. With digitisation pervading all industries, every worker must be equipped with at least basic digital skills to remain relevant in the post-pandemic labour market.
It is critical for businesses to adopt more flexible approaches to hiring and developing talent for digital jobs. Workers must also cultivate a growth mindset and embrace lifelong learning of digital skills. This is how we will continue to create economic opportunities for every member of the global workforce.