ICT, Innovation and Youth of Nepal Affairs
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the digital economy to the country's development and increased the urgency of creating more and better jobs for Nepalese youth. However, as the economy evolves, the skills needed to take advantage of the changes and drive change are also changing. The ICT sector has been amongst the fastest growing in the country and will continue to be so for years to come. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we nurture and influence the entire ecosystem to build the skills required to take advantage of the digital economy. Nepal must have a skilled workforce empowered and equipped to take up new opportunities that new and emerging technologies will present to achieve a digital economy.
Youth of Nepal are the most critical resource the country and abroad, has and will ever have in the foreseeable future. Investing in them through provision of relevant skills and training is of utmost importance. I have railed this issue in various ministries of Nepal and in forums. It is important for both the government, academia and the private sector etc to devise relevant investment programs that directly address the challenges they face with urgency. This includes collaboration to help academia update their curriculum, as well as provision of internships and attachments. This collaboration effort needs to be strengthened in Nepal.
The budget in the ministries should be designed accordingly. Even the guardians and THINK TANKS should take initiatives. Government should not only take initiatives in providing relevant findings on the situation of our local ICT talent development but also provides clear guidelines and recommendations to better improve the existing programs in place by academia, industry and government. Digital Framework Nepal program and some papers provide a framework to improve our ability to catapult economic growth within the country and highlights digital skills and values as one of the critical pillars. In order to meet the needs and gaps of the ICT workforce, the government has to have a wide range of initiatives at various levels. This includes the Digital Literacy Program in schools that is increasing digital preparedness at an early age and inspiring our children to want to work in the technology industry. Community developers too are engaging NGOs. However, government agencies are not working in collaboration more effectively. More detailing need to be done by engaging researchers and experts in bring the efforts in alignment with everyone’s objectives. Effort is needed to collect evidence and appeals for combined efforts, both at national and industry levels, for digital talent cultivation in Nepal.
Through new programs government should be able to equip youth—with the relevant skills to seek employment opportunities from anywhere across the world and thereby contribute to the growing gig economy. They also should have programs targeted at industry talent needs, especially Digital Framework Nepal. This was achieved through collaboration with international industry partners. The program should provide government internships, industry internships, and training with partners. In addition the ministry there should be program to provide digital skills and training to those within underserved communities. It should identify a gap between the existing ICT knowledge and skills demanded by industry and projects an even more significant gap in the future as demand by the industry for more skills to drive and sustain the digital economy.
Research supported by University Grant Commission and other agencies will be helpful in providing evidence and ideas for development of ICT policies as far as education and training is concerned. The skills developed in many of our programs are not adequate for the 21st century and specifically in the 4th industrial revolution era. From doing business in an office setting, to marketing, sales operations, research, product development, automation, and managing risk we require ICT and digital skills. As industries become more digitized and smarter, trainees need to develop their capabilities. Even though these digitization trends are still nascent, we are not just training for this year, we are training the skills and knowledge that must be good for the years and decades to come.
So, we need to ensure our academic institutions are capable of producing talent with skills they need so they can drive our economy forward. Ministry and international institutions need to work together to enhance ICT talent development within our technical institutions in developing digital talent among the youth to identify new trends, transfer technology and learn from the best practices on curricula delivery in order to offer more value to our trainees. The linkages should be cultivated for purpose of building the capacity of our trainers to always remain ready for the future and as such ensure that our students are well trained. If we don’t act now Nepal will remain in the abyss of an unattractive and labor force that cannot satisfy the modern labor market.
Concerned ministries need to ensure the academic institutions are capable of producing talent with skills they need so they can drive national economy forward. Ministry and international institutions need to work together to enhance ICT talent development within technical institutions in developing digital talent among the youth to identify new trends, transfer technology and learn from the best practices on curricula delivery in order to offer more value to trainees. The linkages should be cultivated for purpose of building the capacity of our trainers to always remain ready for the future. If we don’t act now Nepal will remain in the abyss of an unattractive and labor force that cannot satisfy the modern labor market. Nepal must be ready for this growth by creating the workforce necessary to meet future needs and current needs. 5G networks requires upgrading existing networks and creating multiple opportunities for different industries to utilize. Fiber to the home grew rapidly at the onset of the pandemic and will continue to grow; meanwhile, the adoption of cloud and data centers is also increasing amongst SMEs and larger businesses. All these will require more personnel in the ICT industry. But with technology continuing to change rapidly, we need to make sure we, as employers, keep transferring skills to lecturers, to students, and those already in the workforce, so they are prepared for these jobs. We should have various initiatives through our training programs, internships, and full-time recruitment. We should support a range of beneficiaries from rural unemployed youth to the country's best ICT students, as well as non-technical and technical professionals. In addition, we need to collaborate closely with the government, academia, UN, local and international financial institutions including development other partners.