The Need For Reskilling And Upskilling To Stay Relevant

The World Economic Forum (WEF) published ‘The Future of Jobs Report’ in 2020, warning 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 these changes in an unprecedented way, with businesses across the globe hastening their digitalisation of work processes and automation, with millions of low-skilled workers bearing the brunt.

Yet, the silver lining is that an estimated 97 million other jobs would be created, especially in industries requiring soft skills such 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.

Perhaps it is during the pandemic that many have realised that they need a fall back plan, which would enable them to value add to their current set of skills or quickly switch to a different industry. At Taylor’s, we’ve seen an increasing interest in courses such as data analysis, computing and education.
It’s with this realisation that workers have to pivot their careers and align with industry needs, that the Malaysian government allocated RM1billion in Budget 2022 for upskilling and reskilling programmes.

This also accommodates tax reliefs 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 also be given a RM7,000 tax relief for their course fees, as long as they are enrolled in an approved institution or body.

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 for, or to take up a company-funded programme with regards to a skill that is not at all related to their job.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for flexible short courses that helps you gain the required skills you desire without hurting your pocket, and even gain certification for it, there are microcredential programmes available.

What are microcredentials?

Microcredentials 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.

They are shorter, focused on a specific topic or skill, and more flexible than a traditional degree and designed according to the current market trends for various industries and professions.

Alternatively, those who have time on their hands could consider postgraduate courses, with an end-goal in mind. A Master’s or PhD programme would be appropriate for those wanting to deepen their knowledge in a particular area in an industry, or pivot their career into a different industry altogether such as counselling or teaching, or use this as a stepping stone into research and academia.

One may also enroll in a Master’s course if he or she is aiming to stand out from other job candidates, gain management skills and form networks in the industry, such as in the case of pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration.

Additionally, one can also look into postgraduate diplomas, which is a shorter duration compared to a Master’s degree.

No matter the route you take, the signs are clear; we need to start taking note of the changes in the job market and in the industry, and act before we are left behind.
Options for upskilling and reskilling is critical for Malaysians at this juncture, as a report published by McKinsey & Co (McKinsey) titled ‘Automation and adaptability: How Malaysia can navigate the future of work’ confirms the global findings of WEF.

By 2030, we will see 4.5 million people losing their jobs in Malaysia. That is approximately 25% of the workforce in the country.

Fortunately, new jobs that are emerging are those that can co-exist with technology, hence the need for working adults to upskill or reskill not just for career progression or a career switch, but to keep their jobs.

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 Industrial Revolution and disruptions to the industry continue to emerge.

By Prof Dr Pradeep Nair, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Taylor’s University

7 January 2022

Author: Terry KS

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