Shortage of digital talent in Latin America and Caribbean

UNESCO and EFE leaders call for joint efforts by policymakers, the private sector and academia to invest more in growing the digital talent pool.

Leaders of the digital sector, education institutions and policymakers have called for joint efforts to grow the digital talent pool in Latin America and the Caribbean, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The lack of connectivity and the shortage of well-prepared people to work in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector are two of the challenges in the region. These are part of the conclusions from the first LAC Talent Summit organized jointly by global digital infrastructure leader Huawei, UNESCO and EFE news agency with the support of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

"Our work in Latin America and the Caribbean, for Latin America and the Caribbean, consists of supporting the deployment of connection networks, providing cutting-edge and environmentally friendly technologies, and also putting our knowledge and skills at the service of communities to train digital talents and bridge the gaps," said Michael Xue, vice president at Huawei Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the discussions the guests addressed topics such as the accelerating digital transformation, the labor market for ICT professionals, and the challenges the countries face to meet the demand for qualified personnel and digital skills.

Research findings by international consultancy IDC showed that Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to see a demand for an additional 2.5 million ICT-related professionals by 2026, compared with the current pool of 6.3 million.

Claudia Uribe, Director of the Regional Office of Education for America Latina and Caribe of UNESCO (OREALC), spoke about the challenges in bridging the talent gaps.

"The Covid-19 pandemic made clear the urgent need to close the digital gap and to make digital content, technology and connectivity available to all," she said.

Arun Sundararajan, Harold Price Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Leonard N. Stern Business School, New York University, said digital technologies are set to transform work in the coming decades, leading to radical changes in the demand for talent.

"Two education policy imperatives will be key," he said. "We need to create 'scaffolding' for the talent to reach the global market by creating gateways that allows talent of varying skill levels to access platforms of opportunity."

"We also need educational systems that focus on occupation transition for workers who will be displaced by automation. The global focus of the 20th century was on early-career college, the need for 21st century focus is on mid-career transition," he added.

The participants in the conference, which brought together some 100 experts and 150 students from Latin America and the Caribbean, also discussed formulas to enhance the action of each part of the digital ecosystem by adding individual efforts toward one same goal.

Huawei has launched a number of talent initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean, helping train 50,000 talents in recent years. It has run the flagship Seeds for the Future program since 2014, offering nearly 1,800 scholarships for students to receive intensive training and visit the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, southern China. It has also partnered with some 400 universities in the region that offer capacity building through the Huawei ICT Academy programme. Many students also participated in the Huawei Global ICT Competition and the Developer's Competition.



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