Speech by AUBF President Datuk Lingham:
Your Excellency Ms Foo Chi Hsia, the Singapore High Commissioner to the court of St.James’s, Chee Yong Chairperson, KCL ASEAN SOCIETY, Wu You Chairperson LSE ASEAN Society, Distinguished panel Speakers and fellow members of the ASEAN Diaspora, a very good Saturday afternoon to you all.
It is heartening to see so many young people from the ASEAN Diaspora here today. At the outset, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Organising Committee of this event. Thank you all for your untiring efforts and selfless sacrifice for organising this event. Her Excellency in her well crafted speech as well as the panel speakers have alluded to the origins, benefits, opportunities and challenges facing ASEAN as a region, so I will not dwell on those issues. But I will confine myself on focussing on two relevant issues for the youths of ASEAN- Future Job opportunities in ASEAN and the empowerment of the ASEAN Youth.
Future Job opportunities in ASEAN “The 4th Industrial Revolution is unfolding at accelerating the speed and changing the skills that future workers will need for the jobs of the future in ASEAN. The 4th Industrial Revolution builds on the 3rd Industrial Revolution which was the Digital Revolution, and it is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, The Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles
While the 4th Industrial Revolution was opening up many more opportunities, it was also leading to anxieties and populist pressures in emerging economies. These changes are happening just as the working-age population in ASEAN is expanding by 11,000 people every day – a rate that will continue for the next 15 years. Given these trends, it becomes critical for businesses to help to build digital skills in ASEAN. The future of jobs in the region is bright, although the nature of work itself will change, older people will have to be re-skilled and others might have to think about more than one career in their lifetime. We need to encourage digital literacy among those 60 and above. (Going to Night school) The rise of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics is creating concern about the future of work. The impending labour-market shifts expected as the result of automation and AI are so large that there is a distinct risk of a social backlash that could hold back the adoption of these technologies and constrain the long term benefits they offer. One of the thorniest challenges is that the costs and disruption of adopting these technologies come early, but the benefits rather later: pain now and then, some years later, gain. But I am more optimistic. I believe that if workers have the right skills, the 4th Industrial Revolution will be highly empowering and will lift wages and living standards in across the region. The hard part will be adopting these technologies in such a way as to mitigate disruption and dislocation for citizens, and help them toward a new kind of working future. But you will need to make sure that you as the future workers in ASEAN receive the right training and education today. Forward-thinking governments are taking decisive action now. Singapore’s Skills Future Initiative, introduced by the Ministry of Education in 2016, provides all citizens aged 25 and above credits worth about $400 to pay for work-skills related courses. ASEAN could see an uplift of $1 trillion in GDP by 2025 by using its digital economy to accelerate intra-regional trade and growth. Already, digital skills are essential for the jobs of today and it would be imperative for the jobs of tomorrow. Although, ASEAN might only have 642 million people; there are 700 million digital consumers. It shows ASEAN’s digital economy is growing in leaps and bounds and will continue to do so. That sector is projected to grow 500%, to $200 billion, by 2025. Under the “ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020, Companies such as Cisco, Google, Grab, Lazada, Microsoft, Sea Group and Tokopedia are part of the World Economic Forum’s Digital ASEAN initiative making pledge to develop digital skills for the ASEAN workforce, and the aim is to train by 2020 some 20 million people in South-East Asia, for digital jobs and training in digital skills. Also, through “Digital Inspiration Days”, these companies aim to engage at least 20,000 citizens whereby companies invite students and the public to visit their offices and learn more about the character of the jobs of the future. There will also be internship opportunities for ASEAN university students, as well as initiatives to train digital regulators and shape the curricula of technology and computing courses at 20 ASEAN universities. The dynamics of employment patterns were inevitable and would continue to evolve. The education system must be transformative and constantly realigned to meet the dynamic needs of employment patterns at all times.
Empowerment of the ASEAN Youth According to the ASEAN Charter, one of ASEAN’s purposes is to “promote a people-oriented ASEAN in which all sectors of society are encouraged to participate in, and benefit from, the process of ASEAN integration and community building”. Around 60 per cent of ASEAN demography today comprises of those less than 35 years old. They (YOU), the "Makers of Tomorrow" are ASEAN’s greatest assets to shape the future of our region. Today’s students are tomorrows Corporate and political leaders. It is, therefore, essential that YOU the young people of ASEAN possess an awareness of the ASEAN region, as well as a greater comprehension of our richness and diversity in cultures, and thus, contribute to the realisation of our founding father's aspirations and dreams in building a people-oriented ASEAN Community. Young people in ASEAN can and must engage - play a key role in ensuring the development and sustainability of the region. In ASEAN, we have the establishment of an ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme (AYVP) and a regional youth volunteer initiative. Apart from coming together as one ASEAN, we must collaborate beyond our borders. Hence, the fourth line in the ASEAN anthem refers to "looking out to the world". As such, ASEAN also collectively engages with dialogue partners such as the United States, China, India, Japan through direct collaborations via FTA's. As ASEAN citizens, the youth of ASEAN must possess a global mindset and cross-cultural skills, to interact with each other in ASEAN, and to interact with the rest of the world. All of you are studying or working in the UK, must interact not only with your fellow ASEAN brothers and sisters but also with members of the host community and other foreigners and must seize these opportunities for such exposure as they will serve you well in the future. The Asean UK Business Forum's (AUBF's) objective is not only to strengthen our engagement with the ASEAN youth but to ensure that this partnership will yield impactful and meaningful discussions.
AUBF is seeking out new partnerships with ASEAN youth organizations hence, our strategic alliances with GenCorp as well as the ASEAN Youth Professionals Network.
We must jointly organise youth activities with focus on more meaningful and impactful initiatives, such as :
(a) Promoting ASEAN Awareness;
(b) Instilling Leadership Values in Youth Development;
(c) Encourage Volunteerism
I summon all of you youngsters here to participate and engage fully, make new connections, and learn from each other while sharing your valuable ideas. Ensure that your voice is heard.
Give us the opportunity to learn from you. We at AUBF look forward to continuing this Synergy with young people of ASEAN as we collaborate towards achieving sustainable and inclusive development in the region.
I believe that we must continuously engage the ASEAN youth sector and invest in the power of youth - as it is essential that their potential and leadership be fully tapped to shape ASEAN’s economic, social, political and technological developments and ensure regional peace and prosperity within the region in the years to come.
August 12 is United Nation’s International Youth Day, on which the impact, opportunities, and challenges of youth all over the world are celebrated so we must jointly try and organise activities against the backdrop of this United Nation’s International Youth Day.
In closing, I wish to stress and put it bluntly, you are among the 395 million ASEAN youths who are our hope for the future and the onus is on you to forge ahead and build a long-lasting, prosperous and inclusive future for ASEAN and its people. With those words, I now call upon each one of you Asean youngsters, the Makers of Tomorrow, to rise up to the challenge of shaping the future direction and destiny of ASEAN. Thank you for your kind indulgence.