Students are dreaming their digital future

Written by Chen Lifang on 5 December 2016 in Thought Leader
Thought Leader

Students are dreaming their digital future, explains Chen Lifang.

Ms Chen Lifang - Huawei Corporate Senior Vice President | Photo credit: Huawei

Back in 2011, when Europe was in the throes of deep recession and high unemployment, we decided to bring our international training programme here. We thought that Seeds for the Future, as it is known, could help address an acute and growing skills problem. 

Although there were many unemployed young people, and hundreds of thousands of job vacancies coming on stream in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, these jobs could not be fi lled, for the same reasons we found in China, Asia and the rest of the world: a big gap existed between the requirements of employers and the limited skills and experience of the candidates. 

So we decided to do something about it. Seeds for the Future offers students an experience they will never forget.


We collaborate with higher education institutes in Europe to select their top students and pay for them to visit Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China, to see how cutting-edge ICT is developed in our laboratories. They also undergo a cross-cultural experience that prepares them for working in the international marketplace.

Since 2011, more than 700 European students from 27 countries have passed through the Seeds for the Future initiative and, by 2020, another 1800 or so will have benefitted from the programme.

Students taking part see how Huawei develops networks, products and services in breakthrough areas such as fast mobile communications and cloud computing. We also teach them about Chinese culture and some Mandarin language, and they visit historical and cultural landmarks. 

We are not just there to teach, however. Education is also about helping students to learn to think for themselves about the challenges of the digital world. Not before long, it will be they who will be showing us how ICT can contribute to economic growth, a better quality of life and improved healthcare, safety and comfort.

For these reasons, it delights me to see the fruition of the work the students have undertaken in Seeds for the Future.

They have taken the step of writing up a Manifesto for the Digital Europe of Tomorrow, which they presented to MEPs last week. In this Manifesto, the students outline what they believe EU decision-makers need to do to create a framework that will maximise the potential of the digital society in Europe in the future and help them achieve their career goals.

They outline their hopes and dreams for the future digitised society, but also their fears arising from the deep technological transformations that are taking place today, fears that are understandable and which we will need to address. 

Young people of today are driven by the same desires we, the older generation, had at the same aspirational young age. To create a brave new world, albeit with the necessary safeguards, but one of unlimited scope. Let's help them do so.


About the author

Chen Lifang is Senior Vice-President at Huawei Technologies

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