A robot may replace your job — but only if you let it

Current job market trends show that if there was ever a good time to reskill and upskill, it would be now.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) warns in The Future of Jobs Report 2020 that recession and the robot revolution may displace 85 million jobs by 2025. Machines are set to take over information and data processing, administrative tasks and routine manual jobs of white-collar and blue-collar workers.

The Covid-19 pandemic, border closures and national lockdowns have accelerated the changes in an unprecedented way, with businesses across the globe hastening their digitalisation of work processes and automation, and millions of low-skilled workers bearing the brunt of these changes.

Yet, the silver lining is that an estimated 97 million other jobs will be created, especially in industries that require soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity, reasoning and communication. These industries include artificial intelligence, content creation, engineering, cloud computing and product development.

The catch is — are you the kind of worker that companies want to keep, or hire, in 2025?

The WEF says that to keep their jobs in the next five years, 50% of workers will need to reskill. In fact, by 2022, 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change.

Some like Tan Su San, who works in the travel industry, have made the first move. When her industry was hit by the pandemic, she decided to take up a short microcredential course on risk management and communication with Taylor’s University to “stay competitive in the market”.

“I learnt how to manage risk effectively,” says Tan, adding that she plans to use her skills in her upcoming projects. “Risk management helps to prepare for the unexpected while risk communication theories can improve message distinctiveness.”

It is with this realisation that workers have to pivot in their career path and align with industry needs, now that the Malaysian government has allocated RM1 billion under Budget 2022 for upskilling and reskilling programmes.

This also accommodates tax relief for those looking to level up their skills, with exemptions ranging from RM1,000 to RM2,000 for expenses incurred when attending reskilling and upskilling courses, claimable until 2023. Those looking to attend private upskilling courses would be given a RM7,000 tax relief for their course fees, as long as they are enrolled in an approved institution or body.

Leveling up to be future fit

Reskilling and upskilling can take many forms such as through added responsibilities in a current job role, job rotations, being coached by peers or through a company’s learning and development programme.

However, one can agree that there are obstacles — be it company policies, lack of opportunities or the structured manner of job roles — when employees want to “try out” other job roles they are not skilled at or take up a company-funded programme on a skill that is not at all related to their jobs.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for flexible short courses that help you gain the required skills you desire without hurting your pocket, and even gain a certification for it, there are microcredential programmes available.

What are microcredentials?

Wong took up a Taylor’s MicroCreds course on professional acting and gained useful skills he can utilise when hosting events or for client presentations. It also bolstered his desire to explore acting as a profession.

“Microcredentials, or MicroCreds as we call them here at Taylor’s, is an industry-recognised certification of learning of a smaller set of courses with credit value. It is designed to verify, validate and attest that you have the knowledge, skills or competencies in a specific area,” says Professor Dr Pradeep Nair, deputy vice-chancellor and chief academic officer at Taylor’s University.

“They are shorter and more flexible than a traditional degree and designed according to the current market trends for various industries and professions.”

In addition, some of the university’s MicroCreds are stackable, which counts towards credits needed to obtain a degree should one choose to complete a degree programme. Furthermore, these courses are taught by industry experts and experienced academics, and graduates will be offered an e-certificate and a digital badge upon completion of the course.

The Taylor’s MicroCreds programme offers courses in various fields of study including strategic leadership and management, entrepreneurship, artificial intelligence, data science, cybersecurity, digital design, communication management, education technology and hospitality data analytics, among others.

Pradeep believes that microcredentials are the way of the future, hence Taylor’s has embarked on providing these options to its students, alumni as well as working adults, with the aim of providing something for everyone.

Do you need a specific software competency in Oracle Java, Microsoft Azure, CDPOS or Salesforce? Take a MicroCreds at Taylor’s College School of Professional Studies. Want to start a pastry or catering business? Taylor’s is offering a MicroCreds on food cost management. Worried about not landing a job because you are “just another business or design graduate”? There are modules on data analysis and data science, or even digital marketing, for your consideration.

Staying ahead of the game

Tan, who works in the travel industry that was hit by the pandemic, took up a MicroCreds course on risk management and communication to stay competitive in the market

Pradeep says such options for upskilling and reskilling are critical for Malaysians at this juncture, as a McKinsey & Co report, titled Automation and adaptability: How Malaysia can navigate the future of work, confirms the findings of WEF.

“By 2030, we will see 4.5 million people lose their jobs in Malaysia. That is about 25% of the workforce in the country,” he points out.

“Fortunately, the new jobs that are emerging are those that can coexist with technology, hence the need for working adults to upskill or reskill, not just for career progression but to keep their jobs.”

Pradeep says such options will be increasingly mainstream as people approach education with a lifelong learning mentality, interspersing education with their working life, as various waves of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and disruptions to the industry continue to emerge.

However, beyond just holding on to a job, many are looking for a career switch because gone are the days when people remained in the same job for most of their lives.

If the thought of a career switch or picking up a skill has crossed your mind in the past year, you are not alone. A 2017 survey by McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers, or 14% of the global workforce, will switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030. But that was pre-pandemic. Now, WEF puts the number at one billion.

Wan Putri Sakinah is someone who is upskilling with a potential change in mind. “I’m a graphic designer, but I had been looking for a UX short course for quite some time before discovering Taylor’s MicroCreds,” she says, adding that she found the course concise, informative and engaging with relevant assignments. “I want to upgrade my design skills and explore the possibility of a career in UX, as well as keep up with the industry’s demand.”

For Wong Weng Khye, taking up a Taylor’s MicroCreds in professional acting helped him gain useful skills he can utilise when hosting events or for client presentations, as well as bolstered his desire to explore acting one day.

“I wanted to learn how actors and actresses live truthfully in an imaginary world. Subsequently, I would like to try out the performing arts industry one day. I am extremely glad to have been taught by an experienced instructor,” he says, adding that the course improved his self-expression and self-esteem.

“Vocal projection, tempo, non-verbal communication were some of the most important things I learnt.”

For more information on Taylor’s MicroCreds, visit https://bit.ly/Taylors-MicroCreds

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