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Life-long learners in a disruptive world: digital resources for continuing education and training (CET) in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and/or Taiwan


The effects of technological advances associated with the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, such as artificial intelligence, automation, and the internet of things, are likely to be profound in the coming years. The boundaries dividing the physical, the digital, and the biological are already becoming much less clearly defined and a lot more porous. We routinely describe the world as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA), presenting numerous threats and opportunities. One of these threats is a rise in unemployment, as more of the workforce – including professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMET) – start to lag behind the needs of a rapidly transforming economy, thus finding themselves irrelevant in spite of their qualifications, training, experience, and seniority. Another threat relates to the deepening of socio-economic inequalities as the negative and positive impacts of the fourth industrial revolution play out differently for different strata of society and the workforce. Unemployment and inequality can, of course, lead to a variety of other social, economic, and political challenges. One of the opportunities in a VUCA world relates to creative destruction for radical change and fundamental improvements in the way society and economy are organized, enabling individuals to be liberated from irrational labour to focus on more creative and self-cultivating pursuits. An important challenge, therefore, is to make our economies, societies, and the individuals in these systems more adaptive and resilient. One approach to achieving this outcome lies in ‘continuous education and training’ (CET), often viewed as part of a larger culture and movement of life-long learning.

This project aims to analyse the specific CET rationales, strategies, policies, and programmes of Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, and/or Taipei, important global cities in what were formerly developmental states dubbed the ‘Asian tiger economies’. The project will focus on their digitally mediated CET programmes, comparatively analysing the effectiveness of digital resources, modalities, and pedagogies. The project will assess the efficacy of these digitally mediated programmes in terms of their ability to achieve outcomes related to re-skilling, up-skilling, life-long learning capabilities, and resilience. It will also aim to understand the impact on digital CET of heavily frontloaded education systems. 

Students will have the opportunity to hone their skills in critical qualitative methods, engage in interdisciplinary research that draws on the relationship between theory and practice, be introduced to an international network of scholars and policy professionals, and work on 4 publication outputs (journal article, conference paper, and 2 opinion pieces).

Required skills

Able to do basic content analysis and discourse analysis, using software like NVIVO.

Principal Investigator


Dr. Kenneth Tan

Dr. Kenneth Tan

Associate Professor,
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore




Prof Huang

Prof. Yu Huang

Dean and Professor,
School of Communication