"We are happy to announce that the ASEAN Foundation has joined hands with Microsoft in implementing a regional program that aims to equip ASEAN youth with digital skills that are critically necessary in the current day and age," Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation Elaine Tan stated here on Thursday.
The statement was delivered by Tan at the launch event of the ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme held at the ASEAN Secretariat office in Jakarta.
Youth, accounting for more than 33 percent of ASEAN's population, undoubtedly play a key role in bringing the region closer to its aspirations as outlined in the ASEAN Community blueprints.
However, the first ASEAN Youth Development Index (YDI) conducted in 2016 revealed a worrisome trend. It indicated that the region's youth unemployment ratio had reached an alarming figure of 6.4 during the 2011-2015 period, indicating that the youth were 6.4 times more likely to be unemployed than their adult counterparts in the labor force.
Hence, the governments of ASEAN member states need to instill better working skills in the ASEAN youth, particularly in the era of the industrial revolution 4.0.
In response to this need, the ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme aims to reach 46 thousand underserved youth in the seven ASEAN countries of Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam and to equip them with digital skills to enable them to thrive in the industrial revolution in the near future.
To achieve the objective, local partners from each of the seven ASEAN countries will be brought in to deliver capacity-building workshops for over 500 educators by harnessing a specifically developed learning module.
Furthermore, through the ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme, the capacity of the ASEAN Foundation and its local training partners will be built and developed in order to equip underserved youth for the future of work.
Through high-quality and equitable computer science education, the youth will develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that are essential attributes to thrive across all sectors.
The ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme is in line with the ASEAN's current focus on industrial revolution. It is also in accordance with the theme of Thailand's leadership this year in the ASEAN - "advancing partnership for sustainability" - that emphasizes cooperation with sustainability and the spirit of leaving no one behind.
"We hope that this (ASEAN Foundation-Microsoft) partnership would also highlight a meaningful engagement and collaboration that can take place among different stakeholders to develop a regional initiative by working together in achieving sustainable development that can bring tangible impact to the ASEAN Community," Tan noted.