Asia Pacific’s education institutions to focus on its strategy and investment, culture and data

The Study evaluated six dimensions contributing to the sector’s AI readiness. The educational sector is currently lagging in data, strategy and investment, as well as culture when compared to Asia Pacific’s overall AI readiness. This signifies that more work needs to be done for these specific areas for educational institutions to remain competitive.

1.     Data: Education institutions need to work on availability, quality and governance of existing data

Data readiness is a key issue for education institutions. Today, data within higher education institutes is siloed, with limited usage of a cloud platform for scalability. Institutes also face issues with data timeliness and quality from sources, and a lack of governance practices to ensure trust in data usage.

2.     Strategy and Investment: Education institutions need to evaluate investment allocation to support their AI strategy 

For education institutions to reap the benefits of AI, they must have a sound AI strategy in place to help improve their AI readiness. With this, they need to also look at investment strategies that can be allocated to support organization-wide AI efforts.  

3.     Culture: Traits required for AI adoption lacking in education institutions

More than half of the education staff, and nearly half of the education leaders polled believe that cultural traits and behaviors are not pervasive in their organization today. For example, 67% of staff and 46% of education leaders do not agree that staff are empowered to take risks, and act with speed and agility within the institution.

“For education institutions to fully harness the power of AI, they will need to work on developing an AI strategy which can help better integrate AI elements in various areas of the institution. To do so, they will first need to have better data hygiene and work on improving data readiness. Lastly, culture is an important key to help nurture the AI-mindset. Education leaders will need to develop an innovative culture and empower their staff to work in an agile manner,” said Victor Lim, vice president, consulting operations, IDC Asia/Pacific.

AI Skills Required for Future of Educational Sector

Both education leaders and staff in the education sector are equally positive about AI’s impact on jobs. In addition, both are optimistic of the impact AI will bring to their jobs, with 21% of education leaders believing that AI will create new jobs while 13% of staff agreeing so.

Fig 2: Perception of AI's impact on jobs (Management and Staff)
Fig 2: Perception of AI’s impact on jobs (Management and Staff)

However, according to education leaders, the skills required for an AI future are in shortage. The top three skills identified to face a shortage of supply in the next three years include:

  • IT skills and programming
  • Digital skills
  • Quantitative, analytical and statistical skills 

“Education management needs to better understand their staff and prioritise reskilling efforts to address skills shortage. Only then, are they able to bring their respective institutions forward into an AI future, and achieve better student outcomes,” shared Nelson.

Asian Summit on Education and Skills

These key findings were unveiled at the Asian Summit on Education and Skills (ASES) held in Bangalore, India from 22 – 24 September 2019. ASES is a leadership and ministerial event dedicated to the education and skills sector, where Microsoft has been the founding partner for its six editions.

The annual summit hosts various sessions of insight and inspiration led by leading education pioneers and experts discussing industry trends and best practices, ASES is attended by senior ministerial delegations and eminent education leaders from India, and delegates from over 15 countries.