Why we must close the Digital Skills gap

Hank Stokbroekx, Huawei Technologies
Hank Stokbroekx, Huawei Technologies

Education has to keep up with developments in emerging technology



18 September 2020 | 0

According to the World Economic Forum, Europe will see a shortage of around 756,000 ICT professionals this year – and this in a region with top universities and colleges and a highly educated workforce. In less developed regions, the shortage is expected to be even more acute. So why is there a gap? One of the primary reasons driving this shortage is a lack of synergy between education and the requirements of the labor market.

However, companies and countries with sufficient access to skilled and educated ICT professionals are able to compete better, boost income and GDP, and increase quality of life. Those without access to such professionals are likely to be left behind even further. At the same, time technology is developing at an unprecedented speed. Companies are eager to adopt the newest technologies, such as AI, 5G and IoT, as quickly as possible and realize the competitive and economic advantages resulting from intelligent connectivity  – the powerful convergence of these technologies.

Unfortunately, in actual implementation scenarios, initial results are often disappointing because IT teams lack up-to-the-minute expertise. They then have to look externally for talent, including recent graduates. However, digital natives they may be, but there’s a problem: even nascent graduates are the educational products of outdated technology. Why? Because educational institutions are unable to adapt curricula quickly enough to include the latest technological developments. Developing learning material and producing a meaningful curriculum is time- and money-consuming, which most institutions don’t have enough off.




In the future, we believe that the gap between developed and emerging economies will close. And right now we’re doing our best to help that happen. The Huawei ICT Academy programme is investing money, people, and training resources to accomplish that goal. Since 2012 Huawei has been growing the ICT Academy programme, and by the end of 2019 there were already 930 universities or colleges participating globally.

Based upon my own conversations with government leaders and representatives from the Middle East and Africa, it’s clear that they realise the urgent need to accelerate efforts to educate more students and professionals in advanced ICT fields, including AI, IoT, Big Data, 5G, and cloud computing. Unfortunately, they lack the teachers, curricula, and equipment to initiate this acceleration. That’s how the help Huawei ICT Academy programme gives their universities can add value.

When an educational institution joins the ICT Academy programme they receive several benefits:

  • Training and certification for two teachers
  • Course material in electronic format
  • Free online network simulation tool
  • Special discount on lab equipment
  • Vouchers for free student certification

The course material includes everything necessary to prepare for a variety of HCIA and HCIP certifications, such as 5G, AI, Big Data, cloud computing, IoT, routing & switching, security, and storage. The online tool is eNSP (Enterprise Network Simulation Program) which is also used by Huawei engineers and our partners to simulate large networks without requiring the actual hardware.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Huawei ICT Academy has made the online English-language ICT course material available for the general public. This enables anyone who is interested but isolated at home to expand their knowledge of ICT. 

Huawei has set the ambitious goal of educating 2 million individuals over the next five years. To achieve this, we’ve pledged a $50 million investment and upgraded the ICT Academy to version 2.0 to attract more students and expand its scope. The new program includes the following additions:

  • Joint development of ICT courses in local environment and language
  • Huawei Instructor Development Center programme
  • Lab resources on public cloud
  • Funding for teachers’ forums and student activities
  • Technology club and events

These additions to the existing programme will encourage more students to participate in the ICT Academy, train more teachers, increase the number of ICT Academies and increase the quality of the training material.

Every year students from the Huawei ICT Academies can participate in the Global ICT Competition. Teams of four students can participate first in the national competition.

If they’re successful, they can advance to the regional ICT Competition, and finally participate in the Global Final which takes place at the new Huawei campus close to Shenzhen in China. In 2019, 75.000 students joined the national ICT competition in their country, 50% more than the previous year.

The ICT Academy programme is part of the Huawei TECH4ALL initiative, which aims to ensure that digital technology leaves no one behind through non-profit projects with measureable outcomes. TECH4ALL believes that for the world to grow, develop, and transform, everyone is entitled to four basic rights. One of those rights is education. Together with our partners, the TECH4ALL programme will help educate more students about ICT and close the digital skills gap.

The world is made up of 7.5 billion people, but only half the world has access to digital technology. The remainder are trying to catch up. Huawei is committed to helping close this digital divide by finding new ways to empower the unempowered, so everyone can enjoy the same digital rights. The ICT Academy programme 2.0 is part of this commitment which will continue to grow and become a lighthouse for those seeking to improve their lives.

Click the link to find out more about the Huawei TECH4ALL initiative Education4ALL.

Hank Stokbroekx is GTS director of service marketing, enterprise business group, Huawei Technologies

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