By Dienye Diri
Sophisticated technologies, devices, and software have added to the challenges of staying relevant in the workplace today. With the educational situation of the country, one would wonder if our students are ready to squash these challenges. What skills are required to function effectively as a part of the 21st-century workforce?
A few weeks ago in Nigeria, the social media space was abuzz with talk of palliatives from the Federal Government to ameliorate the effect of the lockdown on the citizens. Before you could say “Jack”, new domain names were registered using the COVID-19 acronym. The purpose? To defraud unsuspecting and uninformed members of the public. Dubious websites and webforms, pretending to be from the Federal Government for the disbursement of palliatives, were created.
Lots of naive young people, many of whom were students – and are expected to have attained a level of literacy to deal with modern challenges, were the most gullible. They helped forward these dubious websites and webforms to their contacts and in whatever social groups they belonged to. It was saddening. And considering that we live in the 21st century, where (mis)information flies around at the speed of light, no one (especially students) is permitted to be that gullible.
Employers, researchers, governments, and educators have all agreed that if you’re going to be a valuable member of the workforce, there are skills that will help you do that. Developing these skills will give you an edge and can be the springboard for a successful career today.
There are 12 skills that students need as a launchpad for a successful career, but the three major skills are:
Critical thinking is arguably a very important quality for students to have today. Employers list it as a key criteria in every job post. In business settings, critical thinking is essential for improvement. It’s the mechanism that weeds out problems and replaces them with solutions. Critical thinking is what helps you, as a student, to figure stuff out for yourself when you don’t have a teacher at your disposal.
Your ability to think critically, dissect issues, look at every component of a problem and come up with solutions to them will set you apart in any workplace.
Even as a student, a lot of your peers will come to you for solutions to homework problems if they know you as someone who always has solutions. Developing the critical thinking skill is a must if you want to stay relevant. Make it a habit to read books that will stretch your brain. Books like The World’s 200 Hardest Brain Teasers – By Gary Gruber is a good one to start with.
Technology literacy teaches students about the machines involved in the information age. As computers, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and mobile devices become more important to the world, the world needs more people to understand those concepts. If you are a student, it is important to know these things. You’re not permitted to not know them!
Technology literacy gives students the basic information they need to understand what gadgets perform what tasks, and why. Understanding how devices work, and which devices or technology is powering modern businesses, will make you a key player in the 21st-century market.
Technology literacy will help you to unmask the high-powered tools that run today’s world. As a result, you can adapt to the world more effectively. But more importantly, you can play a role in its evolution.
Flexibility is the ability to adapt quickly to change. This might be one of the most challenging skill to learn for any student. The reason is that ‘change’ can be uncomfortable for some people.
Two of the guiding principles behind flexibility are the ideas that ‘your way isn’t always the best way‘ and ‘you have to know and admit when you’re wrong‘. More than 50% of humans will not subscribe to that idea. That is why if you do, you’ll be ahead of your peers in any workplace.
Flexibility requires you to show humility and accept that you’ll always have a lot to learn — even when you’re experienced. Flexibility is crucial to a student’s long-term success. Knowing when to change, how to change, and how to react to change is a skill that’ll pay you.