TALKING EDGE: Are your children prepared for jobs of the future?
The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is sweeping across society and businesses in all sectors. Some may be sceptical about how big a ripple effect Industry 4.0 can have on their businesses but changes to how we live have already been seen and felt — the way we connect with others, how we spend our money, how we live and where our future career prospects lie.
At the turn of the 21st century, roles like data scientist, artificial intelligence designer, social media manager and mobile app developer were basically non-existent, according to Fabian Lim, vice-president of Digital and Innovation at OCBC. “We need these people in the market [now].”
Acknowledging the shifting patterns in the job market, Lim says the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil — it is data. “Everyone is craving data, but there is a danger in this. No one knows how [to use] or what to do with the data.” When asked what skills job seekers should equip themselves with in the changing landscape, Lim says the key is to keep a close eye on what is going on digitally and on the latest trends in the market.
Hays Malaysia senior manager Aaron Chen agrees with Lim that data will be huge. “A lot of data analytics will be very big and many tech start-ups [are] just driving a lot of information, so we need people for that.”
Chen says anything related to the technology sector or legal profession that deals with the IT sector would see progressive growth as well. There is so much new technology and it is changing the way we are doing business, he says. “There will be many ethical issues that we have never had to deal with in the past, so that sector will continue to grow.”
According a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), about 65% of the children entering primary school now will ultimately work in a job that does not exist today. And Chen says it is already happening today. “You have roles like SEO (search engine optimisation) marketer, pay-per click marketers and machine learning specialists. These roles did not exist when we were in school.” So, it is common to see employees attending extra classes or taking online webinars after work to keep abreast of the skills required in their current jobs. Chen says, “I think people should not be so worried about that because … we have always done jobs we did not necessarily learn about in school.”
What is also happening now is the disappearance of jobs that are considered obsolete. Chen says most manual labourers, especially those who work in manufacturing plants, will eventually be phased out as technology improves. To name but a few, roles such as accountants and auditors, financial analysts, lawyers and sales and purchasing agents and brokers are considered “redundant”, according to the WEF’s The Future of Jobs report 2018.
“If you think about it, a lot of companies are moving away from a more traditional structure to a futuristic digital platform or digital structure, so a lot of digital transformation roles will become more relevant.”
However, Lim says with the many changes and huge disruption of technology in the digital space, there is something people are not embracing yet — soft skills. “These are relatively important and include strategic thinking, problem solving, emotional intelligence and negotiation skills.” Chen agrees that soft skills are important as they help people stand out from the competition. A crucial determining factor in hiring that never gets old is the talent’s attitude. “This is often made invisible but … this is one of the more important or deciding factors when I need to take someone into the organisation,” says Lim.
His advice to parents who are worried about how to plan their children’s education is: “We need to tell our children [to] learn how to learn, to always be adaptive, because with the change in the environment, we do not know what will happen.”
Chen disagrees, saying that children nowadays are growing up in a digital world and they are going to be a lot better at technology than we are. “It is important to encourage your children to do what they love. That is very, very important.”
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