The importance of higher education in preparing the workforce and in producing knowledge continues to rise in a globalized, knowledge-based economy. The future of higher education is profoundly affected by two megatrends: (i) digital transformation (DT), which created the need for countries to develop new digital technologies; and (ii) green transition (GT) of the workforce, brought about by climate change. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other stakeholders can partner with higher education institutions (HEIs) to pilot progressive tools and techniques to respond to these trends, including the changing skillsets needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0).
The competition to develop the information technology sector and build an enabling environment and technical capabilities for artificial intelligence, big data, cybersecurity, and data analytics has been intensifying between nations. In 2021, the European Union adopted the proposal of “Path to the Digital Decade 2030," which included a plan to increase highly skilled digital professionals to 20 million by 2030. The Government of the Republic of Korea also announced its plan to foster 1 million digital professionals. Investments in digital transformation, legislative action, and regulatory change underscore governments’ need to play an active role. Similarly, governments are actively pursuing carbon neutrality through the energy transition toward renewables. This is expected to lead to a restructuring of industry and labor markets.