AWS study shines spotlight on value of digital skills for workers and countries

  • 76% APAC firms accept digital certifications as substitutes for bachelor’s
  • Firms that hire advanced digital workers have 150% higher revenues

AWS study shines spotlight on value of digital skills for workers and countries

Advanced digital workers earn 65% more than non-digital workers, adding nearly US$1 trillion (RM4.44 trillion) to Asia Pacific’s annual GDP.

These results come from a recent “Asia Pacific Digital Skills Study: The Economic Benefits of a Tech-Savvy Workforce,” conducted by Gallup in collaboration with  Amazon Web Services (AWS) that examines the impact of digital skills on organizational performance and employee outcomes, and sheds light on the opportunity that exists across the APAC region to further drive digital transformation. 

From ASEAN, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were included. As part of this research effort, Gallup surveyed more than 16,000 workers and 7,500 employers across nine countries of the APAC region in 2022. 4,000 workers and 1,000 employers came from the three ASEAN countries.

For the purpose of the study, digital skills were grouped into three categories:

Basic digital skills: Email, word processors and other office productivity software; social media

Intermediate digital skills: Drag‑and‑drop website design, troubleshooting applications, data analysis

Advanced digital skills: Cloud architecture or maintenance, software or application development, artificial intelligence, and machine learning

AWS study shines spotlight on value of digital skills for workers and countriesThe research is a part of Amazon’s ongoing commitment to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million people globally by 2025. Emmanuel Pillai (pic), Head of Training and Certification, ASEAN, AWS said, to date, “We have helped over 13 million people gain access to cloud computing skills through our free workforce programs.”

In addition to how higher income can transform the lives of individual digital workers, those gains also scale to significant value for national and regional economies. The 8% of APAC workers who use advanced digital skills on the job — such as software developers and cloud architects — add an estimated US$934 billion to the region’s GDP on their own with US$296.5 billion being the contribution by the ASEAN workers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. 

Malaysian workers specifically contributed an estimated US$105.7 billion (RM469 billion). The study attributes this to the 106% higher salaries that the Malaysian workers earn compared to those with a similar education who do not use digital skills at work. 

Other Malaysian specific data points (infographic, right) include:AWS study shines spotlight on value of digital skills for workers and countries

  • 25% of Malaysian organizations that operate mostly on the cloud are more likely to experience a doubling of annual revenue or more, compared to 7% that use the cloud for some or none of their business.

  • 78% of Malaysian employers surveyed were seeking to fill openings that require digital skills, with 85% finding it challenging to find the talent needed.

  • 74% workers with advanced digital skills express higher job satisfaction, compared to 55% with intermediate skills and 54% with basic digital skills.

For companies looking to get an edge in the market, the 168% higher revenue reported by organizations with high levels of digital skill usage versus those that do not use digital skills will be of particular interest. The study also shows a clear competitive advantage for the APAC organizations that employ workers with advanced digital skills versus those who use workers with basic digital skills with the former reporting annual revenues that are 150% higher than those that employ workers with basic digital skills. 

In Malaysia, Emmanuel said AWS is launching a new program, AWS re/Start Associate, “to help individuals with non-cloud IT experience augment their skills to pivot into mid-level cloud roles such as systems administrator, cloud automation lead, and cloud infrastructure engineer.”

According to him, AWS re/Start Associate provides real-world, scenario-based exercises, interactive labs, and coursework as well as career coaching. “AWS re/Start places an emphasis on diversity and delivers the program in collaboration with local organizations that are focused on helping underrepresented and underserved individuals transition into tech careers.”

With International Women's Day coming up on 6th March and with women's participation in technology still lagging, Emmanuel told DNA that AWS has already introduced several programs in Singapore and other countries to empower women in creating a career path in the cloud industry and that more programs would be rolled out in the future.


Out with the degree focused old mindset

Employer recognition in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore of digital certs instead of degrees.

The acute need for skilled digital talent that most APAC organizations are struggling to fill has put the spotlight on an outdated hiring criteria for tech workers - the requirement of a university degree.

In response, an increasing number of APAC organizations are adjusting their hiring requirements with 76% now accepting digital certifications or training courses as substitutes for a bachelor’s degree. This is an important development, as digital workers in APAC are about twice as likely to hold a digital certification as they are to hold a bachelor’s degree. This development nearly doubles the pool of digital workers who are eligible to apply for tech roles.

When workers was asked about their interest in training for digital skills, ranging from productivity software and cloud-based tools to artificial intelligence and programming languages, 79% of APAC workers said they would be “extremely interested” or “very interested” in participating in training for at least one digital skill.

The survey also highlights that most APAC employers believe that at least one emerging technology from 10 emerging technologies — including 5G, the metaverse, blockchain, and artificial intelligence will become a standard part of their business in the future, with more than half believing multiple technologies will become standard. 17% believe all 10 technologies surveyed will become part of their operations.

The following infographic reveals how study respondents in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore responded to the same emerging technologies question.

AWS study shines spotlight on value of digital skills for workers and countriesThe boost to incomes and job satisfaction for workers across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore who posses advanced digital skills.


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