What is digitalisation and how youths can take advantage of it

As digitalisation evolves at an ever-increasing pace, here are some ways youths can continue to benefit from it.

Tricia Kuan

A tiny coffee addict with a really weird frog obsession.

Published: 14 February 2023, 10:10 AM

The use of technology is growing rampant in our everyday lives, but what is digitalisation and how will it affect us in Singapore?

What The Future (WTF) is a new podcast series by the National Youth Council’s (NYC) Asia-Ready Exposure Programme (AEP), in partnership with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).

Hosted by 987FM Radio DJs Germaine Tan and Avery Aloysius, the podcast aims to help youths understand more about the hot topics of our modern world.

The second episode features the Tech For Good Institute’s Director of Strategy, Mr Matin Mohdari, and Chief Technology Officer of Accredify, Mr Derrick Lee.

Hosted on NYC’s YouTube channel, this 20-minute episode delves into what digitalisation is and its implications on youths in Singapore. Here are some of the main takeaways from this episode:

1. Digitalisation provides earning opportunities

Mr Matin believes that digitalisation brings a great deal of promise to society, empowering people with earning opportunities, and improving lives on a scale that’s “never been seen before”.


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Digitalisation has proven to have the ability to impact society at large, said Mr Matin. PHOTO CREDIT: PEXELS/ANNA SHVETS


Mr Lee also highlighted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries and businesses adopted digital tools. This allowed for them to adapt to working remotely, he added.

The growth of e-commerce and contactless payments were also observed, granting customers the option to pay for goods and services without having to be physically present in a store.

2. Although digitalisation improves lives, it can also presents challenges

Going digital has brought about an increase in productivity and efficiency. 

This lack of physical boundaries makes it far easier to share and access information, as well as connect and work with people in other countries, said Mr Lee.

Mr Matin added that other interesting opportunities lie in three areas, namely financial technology, delivery technology and health technology.

In the financial technology sector, ongoing developments made possible by technology have introduced concepts like micro payments, micro insurance and micro loans.

Whereas in delivery technology, people, goods and even information can be brought from point to point, expanding opportunities for youths to reach out to brand new segments and markets in the world.

Lastly, where health technology is concerned, Mr Matin pointed out that Southeast Asia is one of the regions in the world which is underserved for healthcare. 

With technology, it is possible to reach out to people who lack access to healthcare services, medication. 

However, while digitalisation has greatly accelerated especially during the pandemic, it also exposed various challenges, according to Mr Lee. 

For instance, online scams, the spread of fake news and deep fakes increased exponentially, causing mass confusion.


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According to Mr Matin, research conducted has shown that 25 per cent of the population in Southeast Asia are not online. PHOTO CREDIT: PEXELS/PIXABAY


The pandemic also highlighted a digital divide, when individuals and communities faced challenges in accessing technology.

This was especially so for individuals who don’t have laptops, high speed internet access, or the necessary digital skills to fully participate in the digital economy.

However, this is a prime opportunity for youths to come in with innovation in both technology and business models to bridge this gap, Mr Matin said.

3. How can youths help older generations with digitalisation

Due to the digital divide, there’s a common trend where youths tend to be more trusting toward technology, whereas the older generation tends to be more hesitant, Germaine pointed out. 

Mr Lee explained that this is especially so because youths are born into a time where growing up with technology is the norm.

While more can be done to help the elders adapt to digitalisation, it might be challenging to target the older generation as a whole. Instead, Mr Lee suggested that youths should focus on helping family members such as their grandparents.

One such way of helping could be to teach them to identify and avoid online scams

“If everyone does that, it will have a ripple effect. Our grandparents and parents will have their own Whatsapp groups, and everyone can teach each other,” he said.

To Mr Matin, it is important for youths to keep in mind that they are not shielded from the same issues that plague society, such as frauds, scams and misinformation. 


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The work done to build layers of trust in a digital economy is important. Without it, people will be cynical about the promises technology can bring, said Mr Matin. PHOTO CREDIT: PEXELS/KAMPUS PRODUCTION


Despite being digitally native, the digital world is constantly evolving and can still subject them to various risks.

4. How can next generation cultivate entrepreneurship in digitalisation

One of the ways to cultivate entrepreneurship in digitalisation is through education, Mr Lee shared. 

Having it incorporated into curriculum equips youths with the ability to upskill themselves with the necessary competencies for digital spaces.

This culture of innovation can also be fostered with more partnerships between the private sector, government and academia to make the digital economy more sustainable and inclusive.


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Youths can take advantage of programmes in their schools to foster the necessary skills when it comes to digitalisation. PHOTO CREDIT: PEXELS/JULIA M CAMERON


In fact, one of the ways youths can take ownership of this process is through the AEP programme, Germaine shared. 

Through the programme, youths can go beyond Singapore to not only understand social, cultural and political dimensions of other countries around Southeast Asia, but also gain industry experience pertinent to understanding the digital divide.

5. How can youths join tech companies

Mr Lee assured youths who are interested in the digital economy but lack a background in technology that it is still possible to find a place in the industry. 

The technology industry is extremely huge, with many roles that don’t require digital skills at the start, such as marketing, strategy or business development.

Depending on the role youths choose to apply for, they can always be further trained later on.


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Youths can take advantage of digital platforms like LinkedIn to dip their toes in the field of technology. PHOTO CREDIT: PEXELS/ALEXANDER SUHORUCOV


Mr Matin’s advice for youths is to find ways to level up their skills without having to step into the industry. 

He raised an example of observing everyday platforms such as YouTube or Twitter, and taking notes if there are certain areas to improve on such as the algorithm or user interface. Youths can then use LinkedIn to find a relevant party such as a product designer to leave their observations in a form of constructive feedback. 

“This sends a signal that you’re interested in the field, but not able to get opportunities. But taking these proactive steps to get yourself closer is the kind of spirit we need from youths,” he said.

To find out more about digitalisation, watch the full podcast on NYC’s YouTube Channel. Those interested can also check out AEP programmes and its resource page.

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