WE often hear of how fresh university graduates are unable to get jobs due to a misalignment of qualifications with current market demands.
Skills that they acquire when studying are often obsolete even before they enter the job market.
With predictions of a bulk of present jobs disappearing in the future, the situation is set to worsen if their eyes are not trained on what the future holds in terms of emerging and future job trends.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in its recent report, Dream Jobs: Teenagers’ Career Aspirations and the Future of Work, cited that “at a glance, it is clear that it is overwhelmingly jobs with origins in the 20th century or earlier that are most attractive to young people”.
The report, based on the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 data, analyses changes (or lack of) of career aspirations of young people — specifically 15-year-olds — since 2000.
Traditional jobs like doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, businessmen remain among the top of their lists although there are emerging jobs that they should also look to for a promising future.
In the report, OECD director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher said it is of concern that labour market signals are failing to reach young people and that “many young people anticipate pursuing jobs that are at high risk of being automated”.
This would give an impact on the job market in terms of human capital that is needed in years to come.
Youths need to engage with the working world to better understand the direction employment opportunities are taking and strategise their future careers.
To help young people better understand the direction employment opportunities are taking and strategise their future careers, Higher ED highlights five emerging jobs that are categorised as among the in-demand future careers in the job market not only in Malaysia but also in countries around the world.
By having a view of emerging job trends, it is hoped that students would be inspired to draw up study plans and select career choices and pathways as early as schooling years up to university level that will ensure success in future careers and work environments.
Many of the fastest growing jobs and predicted future ones are driven by technology development, increased Internet connectivity, rapid globalisation and new business demands.
Tech skills are required in jobs across industries in different roles and functions and this is expected to create demand for tech-based or tech-related jobs.
Jobs like artificial intelligence specialists and data scientists are required across industries to help organisations and businesses be more efficient in delivering their products and services, and be more responsive to customer demands in anticipated increased competition.
Existing jobs like content creators are now being taken to the next level and being given new dimensions by technology to reach a wider audience through multiple channels and platforms.
New jobs like privacy officers cater to the privacy and security concerns of personal data being put on commercial platforms driven by the popularity of e-commerce.
Although artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time, the field is still in its infancy and has only recently started to gain momentum.
AI, said Associate Professor Dr Norisma Idris, is a branch of computer science that aims to create intelligent machines that mimic human intelligence.
“There are varying kinds and degrees of intelligence in people such as decision-making, reasoning, language understanding and learning. AI tries to understand and model intelligence as a computational process. The ultimate effort is to make computer programs that can solve problems and achieve goals in the world as well as humans,” said the head of Department of Artificial Intelligence at Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology.
“Most of AI specialists work in applied AI to program smart systems that can think like humans. For example, to recognise a face (face recognition), address questions or instructions (chatbot) and solve problems.
“AI specialists mostly work at research centres of universities, small AI development companies, banking sectors, automotive industries, healthcare facilities and government agencies,” said Norisma.
There are many sub-areas of AI such as Fuzzy Logic, Neural Network, Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Many of the popular recent applications of AI in industry have been based on Machine Learning (ML), which gives computers the ability to learn, improve business decisions, increase productivity, detect disease, forecast weather, etc.”
Currently, the most hot-trend application is Sentiment Analysis, a type of text mining or text analysis which can be used to review products for business, predict highs and lows of stock markets, and identify views expressed by people in political debates.
Norisma said maths and science are important for those who want to go into AI as these form the backbone of most AI programs.
On top of that, they need to acquire knowledge and skills on Cognitive Science, Machine Learning, Neural Computing, Robotics and Natural Language Processing.
“Currently, most AI specialists have Master or Doctoral degrees (PhD) specialising in any AI fields. However, due to the current demands from the industry, AI specialists can be those who have a Bachelor Degree with AI as their specialisation,” said Norisma.
Drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are often regarded as big boys’ toys.
But development in UAS technology has made individuals, commercial entities and governments realise that drones have multiple and even strategic uses.
Universiti Malaysia Perlis Centre of Excellence for Unmanned Aerial Systems (COEUAS) director Professor Dr Hazry Desa said drones these days come in many forms, divided into classes, size, range and capacity for autonomous flight.
Most are controlled remotely by a human pilot on the ground. Some can fly along pre-set coordinates or patterns, or land if they lose contact with the pilot.
As such they can be used in agriculture solutions like precision crop monitoring, aerial photography and videography for journalism and film, law enforcement and border control surveillance, unmanned cargo transport, and aerial mapping and survey.
Hazry said that to advance further in the area, Malaysia must develop its own drone technology and drone technologists.
“We cannot rely on the technology of others or else we will always become followers. It is not necessary for drone technologists to understand how to build the drone in depth. More importantly, they have to understand how to repair or maintain the drone and use the drone according to the requirement of safety standards.
“To use the drone, it is necessary to know how to fly the drone as well as process data that is acquired in when utilising the drone. Apart from collecting and understanding the data, they also must be able to analyse the data,” he said.
To become a drone technologist, acquiring the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licence is a basic requirement to become a certified UAS operator in certain countries.
“It is also important to understand mechatronics engineering, which includes knowledge in computer and electrical engineering.
“Other important knowledge includes videography if you want to make a corporate video; Geographic Information System (GIS ) and Photogrammetry if you want to become an aerial surveyor; and image processing or pattern recognition if you want to be involved in aerial inspection,” he said.
Mention the word scientist and the image that comes to mind is someone sitting in a lab conducting research in natural or physical sciences for the betterment of life.
These days, another category of scientist is emerging — data scientist.
According to Dr Ho Chiung Ching, dean and senior lecturer at Multimedia University’s Faculty of Computing and Informatics, a data scientist is “someone who knows how to extract meaning from and interpret data”.
“He or she spends a lot of time on collecting, cleaning and munging data because a data is never clean. This process requires persistence, statistics and software engineering skills.
“Once he or she gets the data into shape, a crucial part is exploratory data analysis, which combines visualisation and data sense.The data scientist will help an organisation make data-driven decisions, as well as make sense of the data owned by the organisation in order to derive hidden insights, which can be used to drive activities that are profitable, or activities that will benefit the organisation,” explained Ho.
Data science, he said, is relevant in almost every industry. The recent growth of interest in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) will also see data science being used increasingly for industrial use cases.
Ho said a data scientist needed to have knowledge in mathematics, statistics and programming (that is, programming languages such as Python, R, SQL, Java, Spark and Scala).
“A university degree is a good starting point — and for technical leadership positions, a postgraduate degree is useful to develop the research skills needed to solve increasingly complex problems. Having said that, online learning courses are good as supplemental material for the budding data scientist.”
MULTIPLATFORM CONTENT CREATOR
The fact that the Internet has democratised access to creation and distribution tools is giving rise to a more dynamic content industry.
Digital content is created, curated, exchanged and consumed by the day across the world, paving new ways on how content can be presented, said Associate Professor Dr Massila Hamzah, dean of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).
“For content providers, it means delivering what the audience wants, in whatever form the audience wants and whenever the audience wants it.
“The content industry can no longer afford to limit themselves to only providing offline and on-air content through media like print or radio and television content, they need to expand further and look at all digital platform content requirements.
“There is no such thing as one content fits all, but to provide content for all platforms. Adding to the challenge, the timeframe to create these content is getting shorter and shorter,” she said.
Therefore, with an ever-changing content demand, there is a demand for talents who are multitalented and can serve many digital platforms such as photographers, graphic designers, writers, podcasters, gamers and video producers.
Creative content creators should be savvy in a plethora of digital platforms, are organised and creative, analytical and associative, disciplined and do a lot of diverse reading.
“Continuous attention to writing excellence and good production practices enhances agility in creative work. If talents possess high standards of writing, it will lead to lower editing costs, better reusability and overall faster completion time.
“Language mastery is vital and for those who can communicate multilingually verbally and in writing, they will be an asset to the industry. Besides that, in terms of personality, today’s employers expect their workforce to be adaptable, versatile and agile. Again, this is to cater to an audience who has diverse interests but also uses several different digital platforms,” she said.
With commercial entities like banks and insurance companies, shopping platforms, utilities and telecommunication service providers being more connected to the Net and offering their services via online access, there are concerns about data privacy and security among customers.
This has given rise to demands that companies and governments ensure that the data collected from customers or users are kept safe and secure, and has led to the creation of laws in various countries around the world that protect customer information from being misused or misapplied by parties concerned.
In Malaysia, according to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Law Faculty dean Professor Dr Nazura Abdul Manap, these concerns are being addressed by The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA).
PDPA stipulates provisions that protect users from any form of abuse in the storage or processing of personal data of individuals, public and private sectors in Malaysia for commercial transactions.
“To ensure that these rules are being complied with, there is a potential for an emerging demand for such commercial entities to employ privacy officers who would look into data privacy, privacy compliance, privacy law and policies. This is especially important in view of IR 4.0 developments, particularly in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT).
“The focus should not just be on compliance within Malaysian borders but also in other countries where the data is shared if the business involves cross-border transactions,” she said.
The role of privacy officers is to ensure that the handling of personal data complies with data protection rules.
“While it is not necessary for privacy officers to have a background in law, they must be aware of the relevant rules, able to carry out compliance and auditing activities. It requires meticulousness to carry out the job,” she said.