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The skill revolution

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The basic truth of life is that the skills needed to be much sought after and become more successful in life are not really found within the walls of the classrooms. One of our ‘afflictions’ in Africa is that we put so much premium on certificates, titles and degrees, instead of acquisition of skills to solve problems.

Hear this: Graduates that cannot solve problems, no matter how much certificates and degrees they have accumulated, are liabilities to their communities.

A college degree is no longer the main ticket to success: skills and continuous learning matter the most. The future of work won’t be about college degrees; it would be about job skills. The skill revolution has already started, and it is just a matter of time before it catches up with all of us. Always remember that your goal should be to acquire skills and experience, not certifications and degrees.

The era when degree and certificates open doors has ended; we are now in the era of skills. Your level of education is not the barrier to your ability to solve problems; the real barrier is lack of requisite skills, especially new age and digital skills.

On June 26, this year, I was greeted with a game-changing news that flooded the tabloids: “Trump signs executive order prioritising job skills over college degree in government hiring.” The United States (US) President believes strongly that government should welcome job seekers with needed skills, regardless of how they acquired them.

This is going to be the biggest shift in ensuring a more inclusive workforce in any environment. This is a major reform to the US Federal workforce that would herald a unique revolution that would shift employer’s focus from educational qualifications to skill acquisition. The shift in hiring protocols would recognise the value of learning, regardless of whether it occurs on the job or in the classroom.

Degrees only show that you are teachable; it is only skills that reveal the problems that you are capable of solving. The world is evolving every day and having exceptional skills is becoming more relevant in the work place than a college degree.

One of the greatest problems in Africa is our obsession with degrees and certificates. Super-entrepreneur, Elon Musk, has a message for both degree-obsessed young people and companies desperate to hire them. When asked in a 2014 interview about what university degrees he looks for on a resume, Musk explained that though credentials can be a nice signal of someone’s abilities, they are absolutely not a prerequisite for achieving incredible things.

The Tesla and SpaceX boss isn’t obsessed with degrees, and neither should you. Stop seeing yourself through the eyes of your degrees; see yourself through the eyes of the problems you are solving in your community with your skills.

This does not mean that a degree is absolutely futile, as one cannot rule out the necessity of having a degree in hand. But considering the volatile and ever-evolving market, the demand for skill sets has definitely overpowered the basic education needs.

In this dynamic paced world, skillsets are more important than focusing on completing the conventional college degree, which does not give you hands-on experience of the real world job scenario.

In the new world, what would really matter most is your exceptional skills to solve problems and your passion for continuous learning. A degree is good, but it says nothing about what you are capable of doing; your skills are your unique selling points.

The future of work would put a high demand on our skills, not our college degrees. There is a changing trend in the workforce that is putting high premiums on the importance of skills in securing top jobs; be prepared, so that you won’t sink into oblivion in your work place. Companies and hiring managers are overhauling their hiring practices to focus on competencies over formal education credentials. Don’t be left out!

The mindset shift from college degrees to skill acquisition and continuous learning is already reaching a tipping point. The future of work won’t be about degrees. The tide is turning and times are shifting, it is becoming very obvious that the world is shifting to the age of skill acquisition.

Grow your talents and skills through a consistent practice and progressive learning. Learn to relearn and unlearn. Raise the bar for yourself always.

Digital Skills Needed To Navigate The Digital World
IT has now become imperative for any graduate who wish to thrive in this digital era to acquire essential digital skills. Professionals who want their business or themselves to stay relevant in a digitalised world would have to acquire necessary digital skills.

There are 11 key digital skills that graduates must ensure they acquire to be relevant in this digital age and also meet industry needs.

1. Mobile Application Development
Mobile app development is the act or process by which a mobile app is developed for mobile devices. The world is gradually becoming an ecosystem of mobile apps and the graduates that would thrive in this transition must acquire this critical skill.

2. Data Analytics
We are living in an era where data is real wealth. Future decisions would be driven 100 per cent by data analysis and graduates that can interpret, analyse and manage data would be in high demand.

3. Cyber Security
As long as we have hackers, we would have cyber security as an emerging technology, because it will constantly evolve to defend against those hackers. The number of cyber security jobs is growing three times faster than other tech jobs. Big corporations are putting very high premium on cyber security, because it is inextricably linked to their integrity.

4. Web Development
The expansion of e-commerce is expected to be the main driver of web developer job growth in the next decade. There is a huge demand for web developers for organisations, celebrities and even individuals. Graduates with web development skills will undoubtedly have an edge over their colleagues.

5. Digital Marketing
Businesses leverage digital channels, such as search engines, social media, e-mails and websites to connect with current and prospective customers. Knowing how to reach out to target audience on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms is a necessary skill in this digital era.

6. Coding
Coders or programmers are people who write the programmes behind everything we see and do on a computer. When people learn to code, it helps them to develop essential skills, such as problem solving, logic and critical thinking. Whether you are a designer, financial analyst, marketer or teacher, coding is fast becoming a required part of the curriculum in many professions.

7. Video Creation And Editing
The face of content creation has changed with the advent of short videos that can catch viewers’ attention and also affect consumers’ behaviour. Video, as content, is easier and more fascinating to consume than a typical blog post. It is also more entertaining and appeals to millennial.

8. Graphic Designs
The demand for graphic designs and software has skyrocketed over the years and whether you need this skill to help you start a blog, design a website or edit product photos for e-commerce business, having the basic knowledge of graphic design would surely give you an added advantage in this digital era.

9. Artificial Intelligence
AI is a hot topic, because it is usually associated with potential job loss, and experts claim that automation would eliminate 73 million more jobs by 2030. Although artificial intelligence would eliminate many jobs, but it would also create jobs for those with AI skills. A 21st Century graduate must embrace artificial intelligence to become perpetually relevant, as many jobs would become obsolete in the future.

10. Blockchain Technology
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Crypto currency, Digital Currency, Virtual Currency, Digital Wallets, Proof of Work (PoW) and Digital Ledger are Blockchain terms poised to disrupt trading, financial transactions, health care delivery and government services in this digital era.

The face of financial transactions is changing with the entrance of crypto currencies, especially Bitcoin. Though the advancements of Blockchain are still young, but have the potential to be revolutionary in the future, and judging by its success and increased use, it seems that Blockchain is poised to rule the digital world of the near future.

11. Digital Project Management
Gone are the days of managing work using pen and paper, whiteboards and dry erase markers, sticky notes and your cubicle walls. The world has already moved online and project management has gone beyond the use of pen and paper to a digitalised way of organising and streamlining our ideas into digital products or services.

An understanding of a range of methodologies, such as SCRUM and AGILE would stand out on any CV. Digital project managers need to have a holistic understanding of how digital projects are developed, from ideation to prototype to fully developed digital product or service.

My final take on the dichotomy of degree and skill is this: Pursue a degree that is in alignment with your passion and innate abilities, but make skill acquisition and continuous learning a lifestyle. As a graduate, never be caught without a skill.
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