Intel Asia Academic Forum 2008 – Empowering 21st Century Workforce

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Ashutosh Chadha

Strategic Education Initiatives (Asia Pacific), Intel

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Kowledge is the currency of today’s global economy and to thrive, today’s students must do more than acquire facts and data – they must use information to become innovators of knowledge. With growing international competition and outsourcing more commonplace, this, coupled with the current US economic crisis, is providing developing economies in Asia with the opportunity to become more competitive and even outpace the rest of the world.

Ironically however one of the key problems being faced in addressing this is not just related to the shortage of skilled staff but ensuring that students are trained in areas and topics which align well with industry requirements.  A case in point is for example India – Nasscom, which represents India’s software companies, has estimated that there could be a shortfall of 500,000 IT professionals by 2010. While Indian engineering schools award around 200,000 diplomas each year, and produce around 250,000 graduates, only half are employable by the IT industry. Employees have learnt to switch jobs for better pay, and salaries are going up by 10-15% a year. Furthermore, with competitors in other parts of the world starting to emerge, India increasingly needs to keep abreast of technological changes and trends.

The question thus is : how will India and other countries in the region ensure that its workforce is  equipped with the skills and knowledge to thrive in today’s global economy?

To develop global workforce and to improve employability and entrepreneurship in students, effective partnership among the community, industry, governments and academia is essential. Communities and industries should provide needs and requisite technical skills. Governments should help provide relevant regulatory and implementation frameworks and the academia to help bridge this divide and ensure the necessary change. This is the bed rock to developing an effective talent ecosystem.

Above all effective collaboration and regular communication among these stakeholders will help ensure these practices become a reality and  a pipeline of competitive workforce can be nurtured. Intel corporation, a top IT industry partner to over 36 key universities and governments in Asia Pacific region, has been regularly  working with policy makers and professors focusing on faculty development, research and curriculum in order to hone the quality of local talent. The annual Intel Asia Academic Forum is one such platform to help facilitate collaboration between industry and academia on advancement of technology and innovation.

The 5th Intel Asia Academic Forum took place in Taiwan in Oct 2008. With a theme of ‘Powering the Future: Technology Innovation for a Better World’ the forum brought together over 150 delegates from universities from eight countries in Asia.

At the Forum, Intel shared details of its technology roadmap, business and research developments at three tracks: ‘Technology & Manufacturing’, ‘Systems and Architecture’ and ‘Software for Multi-core’.  The executive Vice President of Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) from Taiwan government, Dr. Chih-Kung Lee, delivered a keynote on The Next Social Paradigm Based on A Proposed Coexistence of Virtual and Reality. Nine Intel Fellows and selected professors shared their insights and discussed trends in technology and manufacturing, software, architecture and IT systems. The forum also held a multi-core in-depth training workshop which equipped faculties with latest technologies and content for them to develop related curriculum in the region. Additionally this year saw the institution of  an ‘Outstanding Research Award’ which was a recognition by peers given to faculty with some of the best research projects.

With its Higher Education Program, Intel has been striving to work with other industries and agencies to make a difference for developing the global workforce. By working with local universities in countries, Intel helps support research curriculum development as well as closer industry-academia linkages

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