Hong Kong needs to gear up for quick AI adoption by strengthening its education technology sector, suggests John Tsang, former finance chief. He warns of impending changes in the labour market due to AI's impact, and urges policymakers and stakeholders to consider Hong Kong as a hub for EdTech opportunities in the Greater Bay Area.
Ex-finance chief advocates for AI readiness
John Tsang, who held the position of financial secretary for a decade before stepping down to contest for city leadership in 2017, believes that Hong Kong should gear up for the fast-paced adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to him, this can be achieved by stepping up the city's education technology game. Not only will it prepare the city for the AI era, but it can also provide a solution to the looming changes in the local labour market.
Tsang also urged stakeholders to consider Hong Kong's potential as a gateway for exploiting opportunities in the EdTech sector, particularly in the Greater Bay Area. The term 'Greater Bay Area' is an initiative by Beijing to merge Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland Chinese cities into an economic powerhouse. Tsang believes that if properly harnessed, this initiative could offer tremendous opportunities for the integration of education technology in classroom learning across the region.
Citing a specific study, Tsang pointed out the potential impact of AI on the labour market. According to the study, one-fifth of the local workforce could face unemployment or need to change their career paths in the next five years due to the influence of AI. This forecast calls for the immediate need to adapt to the fast-approaching AI era and to equip the workforce with the necessary skills to navigate the shift.
Hong Kong's lagging presence in the EdTech market
Despite the potential opportunities in the EdTech sector, Hong Kong currently holds just 3% of the market share in Southeast Asia, significantly trailing behind other regions. Singapore, for instance, holds a commanding 50% market share and is recognised as the leading force in the region. This stark contrast highlights the urgent need for Hong Kong to invest more in its EdTech sector and seize the opportunities that AI adoption provides.
Learning from Singapore's thriving EdTech market
Tsang highlighted the example of Singapore where the market for education technology is thriving, thanks largely to government support and an established network of accelerators and incubators, including the government-owned investment company, Temasek. Drawing parallels from Singapore, Tsang encourages Hong Kong to embrace a similar supportive ecosystem to nurture its EdTech sector and leverage AI's potential.
Retraining employees for the AI era
In light of these looming changes, Tsang insists on the need for the public and private sectors to take initiative. He suggests these sectors should proactively retrain employees to equip them with the necessary skills to handle the shift brought about by AI. He believes that in addition to attracting overseas talent, ensuring job security and facilitating the transition for those affected by technological disruptions are crucial steps in preparing the city for the AI era.