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ANALYSIS

Empower youth ‘to leverage AI for economic growth’

DUBAI, February 10, 2019

The region must empower its youth to leverage the economic gains of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and drive the data economies of tomorrow, said global professional services firm PwC in a report launched with Dubai’s World Government Summit.

There is no doubt that we are living in a time of data abundance, yet such global promise is weighted in equal measure by potentially vast inequalities of access.

Without a determined approach by policymakers, the benefits of our new data economies will not be shared equally, according to the report titled “Building The Data Economies of the Future”.

By engaging with youth as present and future drivers of data economies, governments can ensure that the rewards of the data revolution reach everyone in society, the report said.

According to Mona Abou Hana, partner at PwC Middle East and one of the report’s authors, every government in the region ‘can and should’ be promoting the promise of data-driven economies. The ultimate goal, Abou Hana noted, is a more level digital playing field, where no one is denied the opportunity to benefit from a data-rich world and involving young people must lie at the heart of the response.

The report goes on to outline the six imperatives or policy recommendations which PwC deems necessary to empower youth to drive the data economies of tomorrow:

1. Disrupt the education system

Governments have recognised the need to move towards innovative educational models. Yet such reforms generally do not go far enough in disrupting traditional education systems in preparation for a data economy and in providing all young people with the digital skills and opportunities to build and benefit from the data economies of the future.

Maria Axente, report co-author and Programme Driver at PwC Artificial Intelligence, Technology & Investments and AI for Good Lead said: “The purpose of any government educational initiative or public/private partnership should be to put young people in the driver’s seat, as shapers of their own digitised future. To this end, collaboration rather than competition between government, business, academia and wider public will bring mutual benefits. A new mindset for education is essential to prepare young people for uncertainty ahead”

Equipping younger generations with a diverse set of skills will leave them prepared for an uncertain and complex future ahead. Policymakers must pave the way by setting the agenda for change through collaboration, engagement and policies that reform and even disrupt existing education models.  On top of world-class STEM training made accessible to all, governments must prioritize efforts that foster four key varieties of intelligence: Contextual - through data literacy; Social and Emotional; Physical - focused on health and wellness; and Creative - i.e. self actualization or the full realization of one’s potential.

2. Support and empower young people to engage with governments

Involving youth in government policies and planning for data economies requires innovative, participatory tools to engage young people. Engagement, rather than formal recruitment, should be the watchword.

3. Rehabilitate governments to become digitally fit

Governments urgently need to invest more in training employees of all ages in the innovative skills required to understand the implications of emerging technologies. The challenge is to make public officials and the politicians they serve think and act more like innovative tech entrepreneurs.

Maria Axente added: “It is undeniable that the demographic profile of senior policymakers and technology workers in the public sector is generally older than their peers in the private sector. Yet this age gap between the private and public tech sectors overlays a more fundamental cultural divide. In too many central and local governments, tech ministries and other public bodies that interact with the tech sector are still culturally and structurally unfit for purpose.

“Tools such as digital field hearings, citizen juries, personal government account managers and online voter registration systems can all be tailored to draw more young people into debate and decision-making around building, exploiting and regulating data economies. »

4. Set youth and data economy national indicators

For decades, governments have used conventional indicators such as GDP growth rates and employment statistics to measure national economic performance.

Yet such yardsticks are far less useful in tracking data economies, which thrive on turbulence and leave trails of destruction in their wake. Assisted by youth, governments need to develop a new range of indicators and targets that can pinpoint the degree to which young people are – or are not – engaged in efforts to build the data economies of the future.

5. Capitalise and use data

What governments are starting to grasp is that their own data, which are given away for free, offer a potential alternative to the data flows that private companies monetise through their own networks. What’s more, governments have the power to bring their proprietary offline data online and then leverage youth to create opportunities from the expanded data flow.

Identifying economic potential in data has been at the heart of tech giants' growth strategies. Similarly, at the national level there is great potential in creating new economic sectors around data and data services.

6. Create an AI market and jobs

Companies and other private entities can only go as far as their services and networks extend, whereas governments have much greater data coverage and greater power to fill any gaps in data flows.

Therefore, innovative governments, working with digital savvy youth, can help create new AI markets and jobs, and in the process, widen and deepen the opportunities available for all young people in the data economies of the future.

Youth-centric future

Abou Hana said: “In building tomorrow’s youth-centric data economies there is no silver bullet or single example of general best practice. These policy recommendations and case studies should be regarded holistically and flexibly, with innovative ideas adapted to fit local contexts and then piloted before being rolled out.

“What they all have in common is a view of young people as partners and advisers of government, working together towards the same goal of inclusive, sustainable and socially-just data economies, where all youth have the opportunity to create and share the benefits.” – TradeArabia News Service




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