Skills Fresh Graduates Need To Stay Relevant In The Market

Tomorrow’s success will come from those who can ‘discover’ and leverage their strengths.

Today, we are confronted by the changing nature and needs of industry. The World Economic Forum in their recent report on ‘The Future of Jobs’ states, “…the fourth industrial revolution, which includes developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, and genetics and biotechnology, will cause widespread disruption not only to business models but also to labour markets over the next five years, with enormous change predicted in the skill sets needed to thrive in the new landscape.”

If we look at the top ten global companies in terms of market capitalisation over the last decade, we see the entry of new digital companies (like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook) into the elite league. Some key trends to note are:

  1. Shift from an industrial to service to the knowledge economy.  
  2. The ‘100-year life’ is a reality, the majority of that life is anticipated to be spent working.
  3. Impact of Digital: Three ‘I’s of Learning: Interactive, Integrated and Individualised

Keeping the trends in mind, the important questions all fresh graduates and working professionals must ask themselves are: 1. What kind of skills will equip the graduates to remain relevant in the future? and 2. How do we prepare for a 100-year life?

JAGSoM-NHRDN Study of Industry 4.0 Needs

Jagdish Sheth School of Management (JAGSoM) in association with the National Human Resources Development Network (NHRDN), undertook an initiative to identify the relevant skillsets for Industry 4.0. The study identified the following findings needs for industry 4.0:

  1. Learning Orientation and Analytical Mindset
  2. Integration of Data, Communication and Technology
  3. Solution Orientation and Problem Solving
  4. Dealing with Change and Uncertainty (Unstructured Situation)
  5. People and Team Orientation
  6. Innovation and Creativity - Entrepreneurial Orientation
  7. Social Sensitivity and Cross-cultural Orientation
  8. Managing Self (Self-Awareness, Self-development including Wellness)
  9. Business Orientation - Multidisciplinary Approach
  10. Globalisation

The findings showed that future professionals would be T-shaped professionals that combine both a liberal mindset covering a wide breadth of knowledge across disciplines and in-depth knowledge in a specialised area, to perform effectively in the fast-changing workplace

The findings also revealed a need for re-skilling at various levels, the emergence of a multi-generation workforce, wellness as an important element of self-management and finding solutions or problem-solving as the critical skill set required for Industry 4.0. The study also pointed out that technological disruptions may result in professionals finding themselves becoming ‘irrelevant.' Hence, ‘learning to learn’ or learning orientation will be the key for future professionals to remain relevant. 

The skills that learners need to develop to stay relevant going forward:

A Multi-Disciplinary Orientation

Learners will need to be approach education as a process of ‘discovery’ - through ‘exploration’ and ‘experimentation’. As the '100-year life' becomes a reality, the majority of that life is anticipated to be spent working. Learners will need to expose themselves to multiple disciplines across humanities, performing arts, design, language, science including natural sciences and music covering all the eight dimensions of ‘multiple intelligences. This exposure will enable a graduate to discover one’s potential and a possible choice of professions. A holistically developed graduate is expected to be prepared to embrace change with an ability to respond effectively to changing career options at different stages of one’s life.

Technology Integration

As data becomes the new oil, the pressing need will be the integration of technology across platforms.  Today, AI and Big Data are being used across diverse professions ranging from medical sciences and healthcare to sports and entertainment. Graduates need to develop an appreciation of technology integration with their areas of professional expertise. 

Managing ‘Self’ including ‘Wellness’

The essence of ‘leadership development’ lies in ‘self-management' and ‘self-development.' The findings of the JAGSoM-NHRDN survey clearly indicated ‘wellness’ and ‘fitness’ as integral elements of managing one-self. As graduates prepare themselves for the ‘Future of Work’, there will be an urgent need for graduates to develop a regime of ‘wellness’ and ‘fitness’ to perform under pressure.

Dealing with Uncertainty, Problem Solving and Solutions 

The study revealed dealing with uncertainty, problem-solving and finding solutions as important skills for graduates. Graduates often are trained to address structured problems with very little ambiguity or missing data – this approach does not adequately prepare graduates to solve unstructured problems.

Graduates need to find out ways to imbibe problem-solving skills and can take up real-time research experience that can provide an edge. Internationally, many schools, particularly the top ones, require learners to carry out their own piece of research - either on a business or a social problem or on a live problem posed by a company. 

Innovation and Creativity - Entrepreneurial Orientation

Many forward-looking schools have considered introducing courses in the areas of Design Thinking and Innovation as required courses. Learners work on either their own business ideas or work on innovation projects supported by the industry to appreciate the innovation as a process., including risk-taking. 

Tomorrow’s successful professionals will be those who can ‘discover’ and leverage their strengths; are responsible towards self, environment and society, who can combine the apparent contradictions of ‘professional’ skills with a ‘multi-disciplinary foundation.’ The good news is that the New Education Policy (NEP) is expected to facilitate in grooming graduates with skills required for the ‘future of work’. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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