By Intan Adila Badrul Hisham
In 2017, a report by Dell Technologies, in partnership with the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research organisation based in Palo Alto, California, suggested that up to 85 per cent of the jobs available in 2030 have not yet been invented.
As I read the report, I could not help but feel a sense of unease. With 2030 only seven years away, it is uncertain whether these jobs have even been conceptualised.
The uncertainties we face in various aspects of our lives can certainly make the prospect of choosing a career path daunting for graduates. However, Assoc Prof Ir Dr Nahrizul Adib Kadri from the Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Malaya, believes that the uncertainty of the future is a natural part of life.
“If we look back 10 years, there are undoubtedly jobs we have now that were inconceivable back then,” he stated.
Being adaptable and embracing a mindset of continuous learning will undoubtedly help graduates navigate the challenges of the ever-evolving world.
Dr Adib emphasises the importance of equipping oneself with three crucial skills that are often overlooked but will be invaluable for current university students in shaping their professional lives in 2030 and beyond. These skills are:
1. Effective communication: While communication skills are frequently mentioned, the full extent of effective communication is often underestimated. It encompasses not only speaking and writing clearly but also active listening, nonverbal communication, and the ability to tailor messages to different audiences. Graduates who can effectively communicate their ideas, actively listen to others, and adapt their communication style, can build strong relationships, resolve conflicts, and collaborate more efficiently.
In addition to these foundational skills, technical proficiency in various media platforms is essential. Social media usage should go beyond being mere consumers and encompass harnessing its full potential as a communication tool.
According to a LinkedIn survey in 2016, the majority of the 291 recruiters surveyed list excellent communication skills as the most sought-after soft skill, especially for entry level employees. Also, in the Job Outlook 2023 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), effective communication was ranked as the most sought-after skill by 96.5per cent of employers, even outranking technical expertise and leadership abilities.
2. Ethical decision-making: Ethical decision-making involves one to consider the moral implications and consequences of actions in work settings. Graduates who prioritise ethical decision-making show integrity, accountability, and a commitment to doing what is morally right; ultimately building trust and maintaining a positive reputation. It is important to note that ethical decision-making extends beyond professional endeavours and applies to personal conduct as well. Even the choices one makes on social media, such as posting, commenting, liking, and sharing content, should be made with ethical considerations in mind.
A survey conducted by the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) in 2010 found that employees who perceived their organisations as ethical were more engaged and committed. This goes to show that ethical workplace environment benefits both parties, especially those who are just starting their careers.
3. Time management: Time management is often underestimated by the younger generation, yet it is a critical skill for everyone entering the workforce. Effectively managing time involves setting priorities, planning tasks, and allocating resources to optimise productivity and meet deadlines. It is important for graduates to understand that achieving desired outcomes requires dedicated effort. While it may be tempting to spend excessive time scrolling through social media timelines for information and inspiration, it should be done with careful consideration of time management principles. Graduates must train themselves to recognise that everything in life requires time, whether it is for work or leisure, professional or personal pursuits.
“I personally believe that developing these skills will equip graduates with the confidence needed to navigate the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) world. While it may seem daunting, being prepared can definitely lessen the fears and uncertainties,” Dr Adib concluded.
Indeed, the future can be intimidating; but by honing effective communication skills, prioritising ethical decision-making, and mastering time management, graduates can position themselves to thrive in the evolving job market and make a positive impact in their personal and professional lives.
Yes graduates, the future is truly scary, but only if you do not come prepared.
Intan Adila Badrul Hisham is Manager of the Corporate Communications Department in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN).