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The Trend of Global Digital Talents
Tsinghua & LinkedIn tap into the data of self-reported digital skills by millions
In the report presented by Xi Jinping on behalf of the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the word “talent” featured prominently.
Cultivating a large workforce of high-quality talent who have both integrity and professional competence is of critical importance to the long-term development of China and the Chinese nation. A wealth of talent is vital to the success of a great cause. We should follow the principle of the Party managing talent, and we should respect work, knowledge, talent, and creativity. We will adopt more proactive, open, and effective policies on talent and encourage our talent to love the Party, dedicate themselves to the country and contribute to its cause, and serve the people. We will improve the strategic distribution of human resources and make concerted efforts to cultivate talented people in all fields to create a large, well-structured, and high-quality workforce.
We will move faster to build world hubs for talent and innovation, promote the better distribution and balanced talent development across regions, and strive to build up our comparative strengths in the global competition for talent. We will speed up efforts to build a contingent of personnel with the expertise of strategic importance and cultivate greater numbers of master scholars, science strategists, first-class scientists and innovation teams, young scientists, outstanding engineers, master craftsmen, and highly-skilled workers.
We will increase international personnel exchanges and make the best use of talent of all types to fully harness their potential. We will further reform the systems and mechanisms for talent development and ensure we value talented people, nurture them, attract them, and put them to good use. No effort should be spared and no rigid boundaries drawn in the endeavor to bring together the best and the brightest from all fields for the cause of the Party and the people.
Pekingnology today presents the Annual Report of Global Digital Talent Development (2021) by the Center for Internet Development and Governance (CIDG), School of Economics and Management (SEM), Tsinghua University and LinkedIn.
They have been collaborating since 2017 around the concept of “digital talent” to study the digital transformation of the global economy. From 2020, they have begun to analyze and track the development of digital talents in core cities and regions globally.
The CIDG, who made the latest 2021 report available to Pekingnology, says that the content hasn’t been fully published before.
Crucially, who are considered “digital talents” in this context? The study defines digital talents as a group of people who have Information and communications technology (ICT) expertise (e.g., programming, two-page design, e-commerce, big data analytics, cloud computing, etc.) and/or ICT complementary skills (e.g., specific digital skills or platforms to assist in solving problems at work, such as handling complex information, communicating with collaborators and customers, providing solutions, etc.).
In 2021, they collected data on about 48 million talents from 31 global core cities and regions and identified about 15 million of them as digital talents, trying to depict the general development of global digital talents. The study presents an in-depth analysis of the status of global digital talent and the trend of the digital economy from the perspectives of industrial distribution, skill characteristics, and the talent migration.
Meanwhile, in comparison with the data from the previous year, the study exhibited major changes in industrial distribution and migration trends. The goal is to assist countries and cities worldwide to better understand the landscape of their own digital talents and the trends of global digital talents, as well as to surface insights on how to develop the digital economy in the post-pandemic era.
Part I The Distribution of Digital Talents
This study analyzes the industrial distribution of digital talents from the perspectives of ICT industries (i.e., software, IT services, networking, and hardware) and non-ICT industries, including 22 traditional industries such as manufacturing, finance and consumer goods.
In the 31 cities (or regions) investigated, the proportion of digital talents in non-ICT industries has been increasing. The absolute quantity of digital talents in non-ICT industries in cities (or regions) has also increased compared to the previous year. This suggests that digital talents are constantly migrating to traditional industries. The proportion of digital talents in non-ICT industries in major cities of China has increased significantly, which reflects the acceleration of China's digital economic acceleration and industrial digital transformation.
(I) Comparison of Cities (or regions)
Horizontal comparison shows that Europe and North America have a higher proportion of digital talents in traditional industries, while the Asia Pacific region has a higher proportion of digital talents in ICT industries. Among them, Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, the UAE, Chicago, London, Brussels, and Copenhagen saw their proportion of digital talent in non-ICT industries exceed 80%. Correspondingly, Bangalore, Hangzhou, Beijing, the SF Bay Area, Nanjing, Shenzhen, and Dublin lead in the proportion of digital talent in ICT industries, with a figure of more than 30%.
(II) Comparison Between Years
Compared with the previous year, the distribution of digital talents in 31 cities (or regions) shows little change in the ranking (see Figure 1). However, the proportion of change between ICT industries and non-ICT industries has changed. Among them, the proportion of digital talents in non-ICT industries continues to increase in cities such as Boston, Bangalore, Munich, Nanjing, Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. This indicates progress in the digital transition of China's traditional industries.
Part II Ranking of Representative Industries and Cities
The study looked closely at four ICT industries (i.e., software, IT services, networking, and hardware) and four non-ICT industries (i.e., manufacturing, finance, consumer goods, and corporate services). The Asia Pacific region leads in the proportion of digital talents in the manufacturing and consumer goods sectors. Chinese cities rank top in manufacturing and consumer goods. Europe leads in the proportion of digital talents in corporate services, and North America has a relatively balanced distribution of digital talents in various industries. It is worth noting that compared to the previous year, the proportion of digital talents in cities (or regions) in those ICT industries has decreased, indicating that digital talents in cities (or regions) is gradually moving from ICT industries to other industries.
(I) Comparison Between Cities (or Regions)
The five cities (or regions) that have the highest proportion of digital talents in software and IT service industries are Bangalore, Hangzhou, Beijing, the SF Bay Area, and Dublin.
The five cities with the highest proportion of digital talents in networking and hardware industries are Shenzhen, Nanjing, Suzhou, the SF Bay Area, and Shanghai.
The five cities (or regions) that have the highest proportion of digital talents in the manufacturing industry are Suzhou, Munich, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Nanjing.
The five cities (or regions) that have the highest proportion of digital talents in the finance industry are Hong Kong, Toronto, London, New York, and Sydney.
The five cities (or regions) that have the highest proportion of digital talents in the consumer goods industry are Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Milan, Hong Kong, and Barcelona.
The five cities (or regions) that have the highest proportion of digital talents in the corporate service industry are London, Milan, Amsterdam, Paris, and Brussels.
The proportion of digital talents in ICT industries in the Chinese mainland is relatively high.
(II) Comparison Between Years
Compared with the previous year, the distribution proportion of digital talent in representative industries in cities (or regions) around the world somewhat changed. The proportion of digital talents in networking and hardware industries around the world generally decreased compared to the previous year, while the proportion of digital talents in the finance industry in most cities (or regions) increased.
Europe saw its proportion of digital talents in software and IT services and manufacturing industries increasing significantly. The proportion of digital talents in corporate services in Munich and Berlin ranked among the top 10 globally. Digital talents in Chinese cities are gradually moving from the representative industries of ICT, manufacturing, and consumer goods to other industries. Shanghai ranks among the top 10 in the proportion of digital talents in corporate services.
Part III Digital Skills Analysis
Among the world's leading innovation cities (or regions), digital skills become more prevelant. However, there are differences between the regions. The prevelance of digital skills in Chinese mainland cities since 2020 has continuously risen compared with other skills. In contrast, although talents in other cities (or regions) in the Asia Pacific region report other skills more prominently, the prevelance of industrial skills is also rising. The relative prevelance of various skills in Europe and the United States has not changed much.
(I) Comparison Between Cities (or regions)
The most prevelant skills in cities of the Chinese mainland and in Bangalore, India are digital skills. Top ranked skills in other cities in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region include a high prevalence of both digital and non-digital skills. In North America, they are primarily non-digital skills.
(II) Comparison Between Years
The proportion of digital skills continued to rise in Chinese cities. Their prevalences are also increased remarkably. Electronics and data science rank among the top five representative skills in Beijing; computer hardware skills are in first place in Nanjing; materials science and robotics rank among the top five in Suzhou; development tools in Shanghai and data storage in Hangzhou rank among the top 5 in place of digital marketing; the rankings of manufacturing operations and digital marketing are rising in Guangzhou, with computer hardware ranking higher and networking entering the top five in Shenzhen.
In the Asia Pacific region, the prevelance of non-digital skills in other cities (or regions) is increasing compared with 2019. There is little change in Europe and North America as a whole, with the prevelance of education management slightly increased in many cities (or regions) in North America. In Europe, the rankings of non-digital skills such as information management and real estate are slightly decreasing.
Part IV Disruptive Tech Skills
The report defines digital skills that match disruptive technologies as disruptive digital skills and other digital skills as basic digital skills. Compared with basic digital skills, disruptive digital skills can not only improve the production efficiency upon the delivery of products or services but also may disrupt traditional production methods, thereby disrupting traditional economic development models.
Disruptive digital skills can bring disruptive innovation to industries and even basic sciences through digitalization. It is creating new scenarios for the digital age. The study looked at the relative penetration of the top 10 representative disruptive tech skills (i.e., genetic engineering, data science, artificial intelligence, development tools, cybersecurity, human-computer interaction, robotics, aerospace engineering, materials science, and nanotechnology) in 31 cities (or regions) globally Compared with the previous year, the disruptive digital skills of each city (or region) have further developed.
(I) Comparison Between Cities (or regions)
The SF Bay Area and Bangalore have the highest penetration rate of disruptive skills and are in a global leading position in many fields such as material science and artificial intelligence. The United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Shanghai, Paris, Munich, Washington D.C., Boston, New York, London, Beijing, Berlin, etc. are developing rapidly.
Some have outstanding talent advantages in single (or a few) disruptive skill fields, such as aerospace engineering, material science, and robotics in the United Arab Emirates; material science, robotics, and genetic engineering in Singapore; material science and nanotechnology in Shanghai; aerospace engineering, material science, cyber-security and development tools in Paris; aerospace engineering and nanotechnology in Munich; cyber-security and material science in Washington D.C.; cyber-security in New York; and artificial intelligence in Beijing.
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