Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis yet since the country’s independence and new dynamics continue to unfold in the island nation every day. Government as well as the private sector are taking multiple measures to manage the impact of economic recession. In the current environment of a worsening economy, digitization can play an important role in assisting policymakers to spur economic growth and employment.
As per a study by PWC, countries can harness these varying effects of digitization through three main measures, which go beyond their current roles of setting policy and regulations. First, counties should create digitization plans for targeted sectors in which they wish to maximize the impact of digitization. Second, they should encourage the development of the necessary capabilities and enablers to achieve these digitization plans. Finally, policymakers should work in concert with industry, consumers, and government agencies to establish an Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) ecosystem that encourages greater uptake and usage of digital services.
ICT talent cultivation will play an important role in development of the necessary capabilities and enablers to achieve these digitization plans.
Huawei in Building Digital Eco System
Over the past 30 years, Huawei has become a key player in the countries’ digital transformation journey. Under the mission of “In Sri Lanka, for SriLanka”, Huawei is committed to becoming a key contributor to the digital economy in Sri Lanka. And Huawei continue to invest on innovation to build a better green digital life in the country from three aspects.
As digitalization speeds up, there is also a stronger demand for digital talent. A Korn Ferry research finds that Asia Pacific is facing an imminent labor shortage of 47 million people by 2030 and an annual opportunity cost of US$4.238 trillion. 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.
Since 2019, Huawei has invested heavily in developing local digital talent in Sri Lanka. This includes multiple programs which includes ICT academy Program, Seeds for the Future as well as Huawei ICT Competition Program.
Huawei with its Flagship ICT Academy Program now launched four Academic institutes in the country benefiting more than 5,000 students. Huawei ICT Academy is a partnership between Huawei and Academies around the world. Through this partnership, Academy delivers Huawei ICT technologies training, encourages students to get Huawei certification, and develops talents with practical skills for the ICT industry and the community.
The ICT Academy Program focused on collaborating with Leading Universities to cultivate innovative talents as well as working together with vocational colleges to contribute and enhance vocational education and training for the youth in the IT and telecommunication sector with NVQ level skills.
In 2020 Huawei opened two state of Art ICT innovation laboratories in University of Moratuwa and General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University part of the ICT academy program. In 2022 Huawei plans to setup two more such Labs and recently Huawei signed and MoU with the University of Sri Jayewardenepura as the 3rd University established an ICT academy in Sri Lanka.
The objectives of this programs cover wide scope starting from providing comprehensive certification on cutting edge ICT technologies, encouraging students to use the facilities for their academic researches and industry collaborations by providing software and hardware required for ICT application and development, encouraging students to innovate in areas such as 5G, AI, the cloud, and other cutting-edge technologies.
In addition, Huawei engage with these universities providing resources to conduct webinars and guest lectures. Furthermore, Huawei is planning to use the resources to enable universities to conduct such training programs not only for students but also for the industry by providing Teachers Training programs on the ICT technologies.
The University ICT academy program provides certifications in Multiple domains which includes high demand ICT technologies such as Networking and Data center technologies, Telecommunication domains that includes 4G, Fiber communication, etc. and Emerging technologies like 5G, IoT, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. Huawei offers three levels of certification: Huawei Certified ICT Associate (HCIA), Huawei Certified ICT Professional (HCIP), and Huawei Certified ICT Expert (HCIE).
Meanwhile, to leave no one behind in the digital world, Huawei Sri Lanka in collaboration with National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) established and ICT Academy for Vocational Training. The initiative aims skilling 300+ passionate youth annually, with knowledge and practice as on-site telecom technicians. The program focuses on contribute and enhance vocational education and training for the youth in the telecommunication sector with hardware installation skills.
In addition, in 2021 Huawei held it first ICT competition program in Sri Lanka with a participation of more than 10 universities in Sri Lanka. The Huawei ICT Competition is intended for students in higher education institutions that are willing to join the ICT Academy worldwide. Through this competition, Huawei aims to provide students with a platform to compete healthily and exchange ideas, thus enhancing their ICT knowledge and practical skills as well as increasing their ability to innovate by using new technologies and platforms.
Seeds for the Future is another significant program Huawei was conducting in Sri Lanka with aims to develop skilled, local ICT talent and bridge communication between countries and cultures. Each year under the Seeds for the Future, Huawei brings together young global talents from top universities to a free of charge, mind-blowing and life-changing exchange program in China. There, they explore Huawei’s cutting-edged ICT, experience traditional and modern Chinese culture, and hone their professional development. This year, Huawei in cooperation with the ASEAN Foundation launched the extended version of the CSR programme – Huawei Asia-Pacific Seeds for the Future 2022 to empower more regional talent development in the Asia Pacific region. This brings together world-class undergraduate students from 14 countries including Thailand and Sri Lanka for 8 days of ICT training and mentoring that will be held first time in recent years on-site in Bangkok.
Towards Digital Future
Sri Lanka has long dreamt of going digital with its basic needs so that the convenience of it is felt by the general public and talent development has been identifies as key need. But these endeavors cannot be successful without strong cooperation and strong commitment from all sectors to build a competitive ICT talent pool. As digital becomes a part of all of our lives, all stake holders shall be prepared and willing to play an important role in cultivating digital talents. And both public and Private sector together with academic institutions shall jointly enhance capabilities of the digital workforce and create the technological knowledge necessary to achieve a leap forward. This will be an important mechanism for the economic and social development of the region, looking ahead.
Nadun Gunawardana is the Solutions Director for Enterprise Business at Huawei Technologies Lanka Company Private Limited and Leads the ICT academy program on behalf of Huawei Sri Lanka.