You might have seen recent headlines about fresh grads finding it tougher to secure jobs, or about an economic slowdown Singapore might be in for. The situation might seem worrying for those of us entering the future job market. But to ‘future-proof’ yourself, all that’s really necessary is to equip yourself, as far as possible, with skills that’ll continue to be in-demand throughout the next decade.
The most foolproof way you can do this is by pursuing a diploma or degree at a school committed to nurturing such future-ready skills. You’re probably already well-versed in the importance of selecting the right school, but most of us tend to focus on ranking and prestige, missing the larger picture. Whereas a school’s ‘prestigious aura’ will only help land your first job, a school which equips its students with the right expertise for the future will spur you on throughout your career.
To help you along, here’re the top hard and soft skills it takes to shine in the future job market – plus some tips to spot whether the school you’re eyeing can arm you with these skills.
What are the in-demand technical skills in 2017 and beyond? Check it out.
1. Making sense of big data
Big data is king now, and savvy businesses everywhere are harnessing it to figure out what their clients want. This gold mine of info, however, can only be tapped by those with the right data analytics skills, making info comm professionals ultra-sought-after in the market. In Singapore, it’s predicted that demand for info comm workers will rise to 30, 000 by 2020, creating a huge skills shortage. Thus, having the ability to make sense of big data means you’ll be able to command a premium in the for the foreseeable future.
Sounds good? You can get yourself trained in data skills through specialised courses in info comm technology – here’s a handy list of data science and analytics courses that can help you choose one tailored to your needs. One good sign of a course’s commitment future-readiness is its industry tie-ups – NTU’s Master of Science in Analytics, for example, offers internships with reputed industry partners like Charles & Keith.
Another thing to look out for is how much project-based experience you’ll be getting, since you’ll need to develop and drive your company’s projects in future. The B.Sc. Data Science & Analytics programme at NUS features an industry-driven capstone project in the final year, while PSB Academy’s Bachelor of Information Technology incorporates an IT Major Project in the last trimester.
2. Marketing know-how
Marketing – especially digital marketing – has become indispensable to any company, and so have the marketing mavens who develop their brand and drive their bottom line. According to the Singapore Business Review, marketing professionals are currently one of the 9 most sought-after types of professionals in Singapore – having valuable marketing know-how will give you a strong edge across all industries.
Specifically, what digital marketing skills will be useful? In the top skills 2016 ranking released by Linkedin, search engine marketing skills are among the top 3 most sought-after skills in Singapore.
However, the difference between knowing theory and running an actual marketing campaign is immense. To acquire such skills, consider going for internships or signing up with schools with a strong commitment to practical application.
3. Managing finances and profits
Another skills gap that Singapore anticipates facing in future can be found in the finance sector. A recent study by HR firm Robert Half showed increasing competition between top overseas corporations and Singapore banks for skilled local talent. If you have some financial training, in other words, you’ll be well-set up for a lucrative and in-demand career.
Moreover, knowing how to manage the bottom line will boost your attractiveness to employers even outside the finance sector. This is because understanding how your day-to-day tasks drive your company’s overall profits becomes more important as you climb the career ladder – it indicates your potential for promotion and greater responsibility.
As technology advances, it has become increasingly important to cultivate soft skills that are irreplaceable by robots.
4. Taking creative approaches
There’s a reason why successful mega-corporations like Google are developing creative workplace cultures through breakout zones, gaming areas and pool tables. In a time where businesses must respond to rapid and unprecedented changes, creativity is a must-have for transforming technical knowledge into ingenious solutions.
If you believe the cliché that creativity can’t be taught, think again. While there’s no manual for innovativeness, there are schools successfully creating environments that stimulate students’ flow of fresh ideas. One notable example is PSB Academy, whose brand-new City Campus boasts break-out spaces and writable walls for students to doodle their thoughts spontaneously. Their engineering courses also feature built-in design thinking courses targeted at fostering out-of-the-box imaginings.
Even if creativity isn’t built into the curriculum, many schools offer additional programmes for savvy students (that’s you!) to hone their creative muscles, and a quick check with their career services centre should give you a good gauge of this. NTU’s Centre for Continuing Education runs a course called “Creative Thinking Made Easy”, subsidised for all NTU students
5. Having cultural agility
Being culturally agile means being adept at working with others from diverse cultures and questioning your own cultural assumptions. This is fast becoming an invaluable skill in today’s international business climate and especially in Singapore, the 3rd most popular destination for MNCs according to Cartus Corporation, a relocation company.
What you can look out for, then, is an immersive learning environment to meet peers from all over the world. Fortunately, most of Singapore’s higher-ed institutions partner with a wide range of overseas universities and attract students from all continents. If you like to take things further, you can even sign up for exchange program or dual campus experience where you spend an entire semester or year abroad ! You’ll have no end of chances to practise cultural agility (not to mention make interesting new friends!)
6. Emotional intelligence
By 2020, emotional intelligence will be a top-ten job skill necessary to thrive in the advanced robotics world of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, according to the World Economic Forum. Even today, studies have shown that high EQ is the strongest predictor of job success – those with a high degree of EQ make on average $29,000 more per year than those with lower EQ.
Emotional intelligence includes a whole range of competencies like self-awareness, relationship management, and so forth. The good news is, you can definitely increase your EQ by learning how to navigate social complexities. To do so, consider exploring activities outside of the academic realms. While school rankings is important, it is only one aspect of school life. Taking part in CCAs & other activities and dealing with people is what improves your EQ. For example, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) On-Campus Student Chapter organise workshops and student meetups on Design Thinking, even field trips to secondary schools outside of Singapore to share their tips and learnings from their courses.
You can go the extra mile by tapping on resources provided by the school. For example, engaging in conversations with people more senior than yourself, such as the lecturers or going for talks & networking events organized by the school, such as the CollabX Communication will all help.
Despite all the economic and technological changes coming up, there’s no need to fear the future as long as you have the right skills to meet its challenges. With our handy list of must-have skills, rest assured that you’ll be well-armed for long-term success in the workplace.