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NEW WORLD: It's time we dumped the old-school idea of jobs and careers
IN a recent conversation with some fellow chief executive officers, I was surprised to learn that our biggest business fears, despite being from disparate industries, were all the same: talent.
Anecdote after anecdote seemed to confirm that regardless of whatever magical new toys technology and innovation throws our way, the lack of good people can be a major hindrance.
Never before has the talent equation been more critical to success than now. The speed of change brought on by technology is mind-numbing and this mercurial pace is turning the workplace on its head.
The old organisation and its components will very soon go the way of the typewriter, as dinosaurs of a much simpler working age. Just think for a moment about how your organisation has changed, or worse still, been forced to change.
The scramble for value-add and efficiency coupled with new business models means that many things that you took for granted will not be there.
To say that the Internet has been a key driver of this workplace carnage would not be an understatement. Here are some interesting statistics:
THE 25 per cent of India's population with the highest intelligence quotients is greater than the total population of the United States;
THE top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004;
BY 2013, a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational abilities of the human brain. Predictions are that by 2049, a RM3,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the entire human species;
IT is estimated that four exabytes (4 x 10^19) were generated in 2010. This is more than the previous 5,000 years. For students starting a four-year technical degree, this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year.
We are preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented in order to solve problems that we don't even know are problems yet; and,
I FOUND out all this in a three-minute search over the Internet.
Which brings us back to our talent conundrum. Malaysia has a young workforce that is set to grow. This gives us a distinct advantage as it means we have a higher chance of shaping these future workers with the right skills and, more importantly, the right kind of attitude to help navigate the quicksand vortex that will be the job market.
Demographic transition refers to the shifts in a population's age group, which results from birth and death rates, as a country develops from a pre-industrial to an industrialised economic system. The four states are roughly categorised as young, growing, window of opportunity and ageing.
Malaysia is in the third phase. We have opportunities for high socio-economic growth because our population is most productive as there is a high-working age population and low-dependency ratio. This window of opportunity has been described as the demographic dividend.
So, how should we start reaping this window of opportunity? On an academic level, the focus should move to the idea of learning as opposed to an "education". While new initiatives are being rolled out as we speak to ensure that the products of our education system are more "robust" and innovative, much more can be done by corporations and individuals to equip themselves with a new set of "educational armour".
The Internet and its technology offer a cornucopia of learning and collaboration opportunities that can increase your knowledge and value as an employee. For the corporation, it means helping to future-proof your organisation as you build a workforce that is constantly seeking avenues of learning.
For you as parents and individuals, my advice is to dump all our old school ideas about "jobs" and "careers" and start thinking about work skills and how you can continue to evolve faster than the world around you.
Who says that you can only have one job? What's to say that in the future, a person won't have five or six careers in their working life span?
The evidence, on some level, already exists. The US Department of Labour estimates that today's learners will have 10 to 14 jobs by the age of 38. But don't take my word for it. I am a wee bit older and I'm not even half way there.