Development of manpower is the key

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Development of manpower is the key

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Shirley Yu-tsui, CEO of IBM Korea

I was invited by President Park Geun-hye to join a lunch meeting at the Blue House on Jan. 9 with 21 CEOs of foreign companies in Korea. President Park asked us to increase our investment to help the Korean government achieve a 70 percent overall employment rate by boosting domestic demand. She emphasized this because job creation is inextricably linked with economic growth.

The employment rate is an indicator of the health of the economy of a nation. The Korean government has a great responsibility to create and maintain sufficient job opportunities. Companies should also take this responsibility seriously. They can contribute by expanding their investments and creating more job openings.

The Korean government recently announced plans to solve unemployment problems. The government focused on three areas: raising the retirement age of older workers, tackling youth unemployment and employment of women, including women who interrupt their careers to have children. The plan aims to create more part-time jobs, increase investment in small and midsize enterprises, and help natural science and engineering graduates land jobs.

For job creation and unemployment relief, we need policies and programs to solve today’s problems. But at the same time, we have to be very careful not to overlook those jobs that will foster future growth engines. Job creation and manpower development in those fields are directly related to Korea’s global competitiveness.

The IBM Tech Trends Report released last year selected Big Data, mobile technology, cloud computing and social businesses as the core technologies that will lead the global market. The report predicted that the amount of IT talent devoted to the core technologies would increase 22 percent by 2020 and the demand for cybersecurity will double by 2015.

Still, many companies say they don’t have enough talent with the necessary competencies for those core technology sectors. One-fourth of the companies that participated in the IBM survey said they saw a gap between required competencies in the core technology sectors and actual skills of their employees. In 2013, Gartner expected 4 million jobs would be created to support Big Data, but only a third of the jobs were filled. Core technologies are generating a number of new jobs, but companies and the government are not prepared to exploit the opportunities.

Developed countries have already started industry-academia-government cooperation programs to take advantage of these areas for future growth. Industries provide advanced technologies, experiences, curriculums and resources, and then universities run the programs to educate students. Support for the policies by the government accelerates the speed of nurturing future talent that will lead the global market in a few years.

For example, IBM has been partnering with more than a thousand universities around the world to help train Big Data specialists. The partnership involves a master’s course in business analytics and tracking at George Washington University, an undergraduate course in business analytics at the University of Missouri and the Business Analytics Center at the National University of Singapore.

This is a great opportunity for Korea, not only focusing on creating jobs but cultivating talent needed for future growth.

Software industries could be a good example. The Korea Creative Content Agency said the factors that developing countries need in order to foster their software industries are an increase in demand for mobile applications, the spread of SNS, cloud computing, a rise of local content, software freelancing and other global demand factors.

Freelance developers in Bangladesh account for 40 percent of that country’s software exports. Thirty percent of CEOs in Silicon Valley are from India and 46 percent of visas for electronics engineers issued by the U.S. government were for Indian nationals. India provides 30 percent of software specialists around the world and 185 companies in the Fortune 500 outsourced software development work to India.

To cope with global demand, many governments are intensively fostering software industries. Specialists in these sectors are not only able to bring more jobs to their countries, they also create offshore jobs, solving a global imbalance between demand and supply of talent.

The most important factors in job creation are the export of experts and the education of youth with competencies in the new growth engine industries.

There are many opportunities where the Korean government, its corporations and universities can work together to be frontrunners in this dynamic area.

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