After months of creative efforts, more than 300 students from 50 universities across China are about to find out which of them makes the best e-books. At a ceremony to be held at Hangzhou Dianzi University on Nov. 27, the winners of the 3rd annual Cross-Straits University E-book Creation Competition, a competition with Rakuten Aquafadas technology at its heart, will be announced.

Technology and education, traditions and culture, cultural heritage protection, mobile reading and creative culture, reading and life. The topics covered in the students’ digital creations are as diverse as their fields of study, in digital publishing, editing, art design and new media.

Closing the digital skills gap

For Rakuten Aquafadas, the Montpellier, France-based subsidiary, the project is part of a wider program of engagement with students and educational institutions. It’s all about helping the young generation acquire the kinds of digital skills that are now indispensable when searching for jobs in today’s workplace.

According to one recent report, nearly eight in 10 middle-skill jobs require digital skills. And yet, the perception gap between employers and educators about what constitutes an effective digital skills education is growing: just 11% of employers believe existing higher education curricula are “very effective” in readying graduates to meet the skills needed in their organizations.

In order to address what has become known as the “digital skills gap,” Rakuten Aquafadas is leveraging its expertise in app building and content management to provide students around the world with experience managing digital projects such as digital magazines, apps and e-books.

“We’re excited that our technology, initially developed to digitize photos and videos, then comics books, newspapers and now businesses, is today helping young people prepare for the job market,” said Rakuten Aquafadas CEO, Koichiro Takahara. “We’re proud to be supporting schools to close the digital skills gap.”

Empowering educators in the classroom

The Cross-Straits University E-book Creation Competition is just the latest collaboration with an educational institution for the company. In the past few years, Rakuten Aquafadas has engaged with international schools and universities in the U.S., Netherlands, France, Japan, Kuwait and Pakistan, providing digital publishing tools that allow educators to digitize learning materials for students.

Aquafadas software makes it easy to create and convert interactive documents and then share them via new generation of mobile apps. The technology does not require in-depth programming knowledge, allowing educators and students to focus on a wide range of skills from copywriting and image creation, to content publishing via mobile applications. These are skills that employers, who are now facing the growing challenge of having to create their own content and distribute it on tablets, desktops and smartphones, will find increasingly valuable in the future.

Amongst the fun and practical projects developed to date, students have created educational stories for kids, sensorial histories addressing the different senses, digital recipes for food lovers and more.

“We can’t wait to see what kind of projects the judges award in Hangzhou,” said Achille Coenegracht, Director Strategic Alliances, Partnership and Business Development, Rakuten Aquafadas. “Today’s university students have witnessed a digital revolution in their own lifetimes. They have seen how iPhone, tablets and other devices turned the world of marketing, sales and content departments upside down! We’re pleased that Rakuten Aquafadas technology can help them keep up with the constantly changing world of tech.”