A version of this story ran in the June 2019 print issue of CommsMEA.
The world around us is changing. It is evolving to become smarter, more connected, and more driven by technology in ways that bring increased convenience throughout society. With the upcoming introduction of 5G to the Middle East, we will advance even further into the IoT world, in which cloud, IP, IT and so on will play an increasingly important role in our everyday lives.
Nonetheless, in order to fully reap the benefits of a connected future, we must focus on developing tomorrow’s generation of tech-savvy, forward-thinking leaders. While there are many ambitious plans to usher in a smarter era for the region, there is still a lack of experienced talent – either existing or in-training – to perpetuate smart city goals.
For youth in particular, there has traditionally been limited initiatives to encourage young people to pursue careers within the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), which represent the foundation of smart cities and a technology-driven world.
This talent gap is a matter that governments locally and internationally are tackling with support from the private sector. A particular focus is being placed on developing talent inclusively, across society, involving men and women of all ages and from both urban and suburban communities.
Huawei is committed to promoting ICT industry development in the countries it operates, and aims to drive long-term economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Thus, over the last decade, Huawei has sought to address this talent gap by investing heavily in our Seeds for the Future flagship training program. Through this program, every year Huawei selects 1,000 students and young government officials working in ICT-related departments in 108 countries, for a study trip in our headquarters in Shenzhen, China. Over the course of the program, Huawei shares its ICT expertise and experience with young ICT professionals, and helps fuel the development of local ICT industries. Since inception, Huawei has cooperated with over 350 universities internationally, benefiting more than 30,000 students.
Seeds for the Future program was launched by Huawei in 2008. It also debuted in the UAE in the same year. In the years since, it has been introduced to 10 countries in the Middle East – including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and others – with Huawei often partnering with local institutions to provide talented youth with the opportunity of a lifetime. Successful applicants into the program receive training and a trip to Huawei’s headquarters in China, where they can open their mind to the immense possibilities of a connected society.
Most importantly, the program aims to enhance global knowledge transfer in line with the national visions of the Middle East countries. That connection has led to strategic partnerships with the UAE Ministry of Education, Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), institutes like Kuwait University, and many others over the last several years.
By promoting this deeper understanding of, and interest in, the telecommunications sector, we have seen a tangible step-change in the participation of young people within the digital society.
For example, consider Yanbu in Saudi Arabia. Driven by the ambitions of Saudi’s Vision 2030, the Smart Yanbu Industrial City project is realizing the hopes of the Kingdom’s leaders and citizens for digital transformation. In the instance of this particular city, digital solutions are being used to address the challenges Yanbu faces as a result of its high-speed industrialisation. Not only is technology helping to create a more seamless environment for the many industrial occupants; it is creating an opportunity for new jobs and new talent to enter the Saudi workforce.
This demonstrates the power of digital transformation and the need for future ICT talent. Together, they have the potential to streamline societies while unlocking huge potential – economic and otherwise. In particular, passionate and educated youth will lead us to a future in which ICT goes beyond simply connecting us to anticipating our needs. In this world, we will be brought closer together in celebration of not only humanity’s achievements, but the essence of humanity itself.