MANILA — Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states need to improve the quality of their education systems and training in order to adapt to and benefit from the digital economy for an integrated region, business leaders said.
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of conglomerate Ayala Corp., said increasingly well-educated population bodes well for ASEAN’s future productivity.
“With how the mobile and Internet economy is changing our lifestyle, it is imperative that ASEAN enterprises be able to adapt quickly by integrating digitization into their business strategies and operations,” Ayala said at the ASEAN 50th anniversary book “Advancing ASEAN in the Digital Age”.
“We have seen how start-up companies are flourishing in this environment where the nature of employment and entrepreneurship are shifting,” he said.
Teresita Sy-Coson, Vice-Chairperson at SM Investments Corp. (SMIC), urged other business leaders to innovate to compete in the new digital world of doing business.
“We need to upgrade our people and their skills. We need to recreate our organizations to be more flexible and agile so that changes can happen in months instead of years,” said Coson.
The book was jointly launched Tuesday by CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) to commemorate ASEAN’s 50th anniversary.
CARI Chairman Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid cited some estimates indicating that the Digital Revolution would add USD1 trillion to ASEAN’s gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2025.
He said the digital economy alone will be worth USD200 billion before rising rapidly.
To capture this huge opportunity, Majid underscored the need for ASEAN members to address challenges.
“Asean human capital must be fit for purpose – this means far better education and training than presently offered. This means retraining for new capabilities. No regulations that inhibit innovation and creativity within or across borders,” he said.
“Most of all, low cost manufacturing employment can no longer work to attract investment. Indeed work has to be found for those waiting to be employed in ASEAN’s populous countries,” he added.