Latin America and the Caribbean will need an additional 2.5 million ICT-related professionals by 2026, an industry executive said Thursday at the LAC ICT Talent Summit jointly organized by Huawei, UNESCO and EFE, citing research findings by international consultancy, IDC.
There are an estimated 6.3 million professionals with digital skills to cover essential and emerging roles, according to insights shared at the LAC ICT Talent Summit which was jointly organized by Huawei, UNESCO and EFE with the support of UNAM.
The IDC report estimates that an additional 2.5 million ICT-related professionals will be in demand by 2026, and that the demand for emerging new roles oriented to digital businesses will be growing faster than those for traditional IT jobs.
“We are seeing a fast digitalizing economy, which means that the digital sector is not only representing but contributing and transforming a larger and larger proportion of the overall economic output, and the digital talent is the bedrock of the digital economy,” said vice president at Huawei Latin America and the Caribbean, Michael Xue.
During the two days of discussions, academics, policymakers, business leaders, university students and representatives of international organizations covered topics such as the present and future of education and technology, digital transformation, the labor market for ICT professionals and the challenges faced by countries in the region to meet the demand for qualified personnel and digital skills.
“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,” said director of OREALC, UNESCO, Claudia Uribe.
By 2025, the economic impact of global IT skills gap may reach 1 trillion US dollars, compared with 775 billion US dollars forecast by the end of 2022. For this region, this impact could represent almost 50 billion US dollars by 2025, which would signify at least 1 percent of the regional GDP for the same year, said the IDC report.
Speakers at the summit forum said that these figures would also mean challenges for regional countries to ride on the growth and realize the growth opportunities and that the only way forward is for all stakeholders to work together to grow the digital talent pool and bridge the digital talent gaps, both in terms of the pool and the skills.
Participants at the conference comprised over 150 students from around the region, including those who have participated in Huawei’s Seeds for the Future (SFTF) Programme and are now the looking to become the next generation of digital talent. Trinidad and Tobago was represented by Ms. Kalyani Mathura, a graduate of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, who was an alumni of the Huawei SFTF 2020 programme and is now an employee at the Huawei T&T office.
Experts at the conference also discussed the interactions of the various parties to the talent eco-system. Universities and institutes, they said, are training the workforce of our future and their infrastructure or capabilities will be reinforced in alliance with the private sector. The speakers also noted that the enterprises are the ones hiring people, and so they know which specialties are required. The discussions also revolved around governments having a key role in encouraging best practices and making policies.
As a global ICT leader, Huawei said it considered itself a cultivator of one of the world’s largest group of top ICT talents. The company has 197,000 employees around the globe, with more than half in Research and Development and has launched various talent initiatives globally. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Huawei has helped train 50,000 talents over the past years. It has launched its flagship Seeds for the Future in the region since 2014, offering some 1,800 scholarships for students to receive intensive training and visit the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen in southern China. It also has partnered near 400 universities offering capacity building through the Huawei ICT Academy program. Many students from the region also participated in the Huawei Global ICT Competition.
“We are committed to growing the digital talent pool in the region and we believe in being in Latin America and the Caribbean for Latin America and the Caribbean,” president of Huawei Latin America, Zhou Danjin. “I believe we will have a role to play in growing the regional digital talent pool. As for us, we can -through our various programs and initiatives- give the younger generation the much-needed exposure to trends and technologies such as Cloud, AI, IoT and Data Science.”
The LAC ICT Talent Summit, jointly organized by Huawei, OREALC and EFE, is aimed to be a multilateral platform to drive joint efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean to grow the regional digital talent pool in response to the demand created by ever faster digital transformation.