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Google teams up with AirAsia to launch new tech academy

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As digital disruption continues to weigh heavy on future job security, Southeast Asian airline AirAsia has teamed up Google to launch a new tech academy to reskill employees.

The first of its kind "AirAsia Google Cloud Academy" will be managed by AirAsia's venture arm, RedBeat Ventures, and will offer courses including digital marketing, software engineering and tech infrastructure design — all of which will be accredited by the Silicon Valley tech giant.

Google Cloud's Southeast Asia regional director Tim Synan said in a statement to CNBC Make It that the deal would enable participants to better understand its technology.

"Together we're working to upskill AirAsia AllStars with relevant expertise in Google Cloud technologies and build deep technical knowledge and Cloud expertise including Kubernetes, smart analytics, Cloud AI and more," he said.

AirAsia has partnered with Google since 2018, when it struck a deal to integrate Google Cloud's machine learning capabilities to improve its digital capabilities.

AirAsia did not immediately confirm further details on the training facility. AirAsia's head office is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The airline's group president, Aireen Omar, told the Nikkei Asian Review the academy will initially open to current employees next month, before being extended to the public by year end.

She said that the launch is part of the budget carrier's long-term strategy to prepare workers for the shifting jobs landscape.

"More jobs might become redundant in the next three years, so we are giving our employees the opportunities to reskill to suit the digital economy," Omar told Nikkei.

The launch of a tech academy is the latest move by AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes to diversify his business for the digital age.

Last year, the airline announced that it would begin selling flights from more than 100 rival carriers as part of Fernandes' ambition to become the "Amazon of travel."

Elsewhere, RedBeat Ventures has acquired a string of non-airline businesses, including online ticketing site RedTix, payments platform BigPay and cargo and parcel firms RedCargo and RedBox Logistics, to bolster the company's revenue streams.

In December, AirAsia announced the launch of its first restaurant selling airline food. Fernandes said at the time that he hoped Santan and T&Co's Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia outlet — which serves meals from RM15 ($3.60) — would be the first in a line of AirAsia restaurants, with a Times Square location dubbed the "dream."

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