Everyone is excited about the new economy. What is the new economy?
Investopedia defines the new economy as, “A buzzword describing new, high-growth industries that are on the cutting edge of technology and are the driving force of economic growth. The new economy is commonly believed to have started in the late 1990s, as high tech tools, such as the internet, and increasingly powerful computers, began penetrating the consumer and business marketplace.”
Employers of the new economy are relatively similar to what we have seen in the last century; companies, non-profits and the civil service. However, faced with the new economy, these organisations despite keeping its outlook and structure, have changed their methods and approach to their work due to advancements in technology. Now, government agencies and ministries are hiring more data scientists, cybersecurity experts and web developers. These roles were probably absent in many government agencies and companies in the past. However, they are very much a norm nowadays.
How then do we deal with this? How does it matter to me, a university student?
Well, to start off, your degree no longer provides you total security over your employment. Your degree may not protect you from unemployment or underemployment. The knowledge you attain from going to university or other tertiary institutions are beneficial but it may not be applicable or required by your future employers. Your employers may require skills which your university does not teach within its syllabus. We cannot solely blame our schools for this situation, technology changes so quickly, by the time the university adapts its syllabus to a new version of technology, another new one appears.
How then do we students deal with this situation?
We need to learn how to learn. We need to identify the industry leaders and read their minds to find out the trends within the industry, the skills that are sought after or in short supply within the industry that we are interested in and we must know where to be able to learn these new skills.
We can follow industry leaders or ‘gurus’ of the industry that we are in by following their blogs, Linkedin pages, Facebook pages and specific news portals (for example if you love the technology startup sector, you must be reading techcrunch, techinasia or e27 on a daily basis). Then, in order to learn the skills or knowledge relevant to your industry but not taught fully in schools, you can pay for online courses on platforms like Udemy, Coursera or the likes of it. If you do not have much cash to spare for online lessons on those platforms, you can simply go to Youtube and listen to talks recorded on the specific topics that you are interested in.
Finding a job will only get tougher as technology quickly transforms just as we are about to catch up. The only way forward for us is to work on our skills and abilities. We need to make sure that we know what are the new skills needed in the industry that we want to work in and be very prepared with the skills which our schools do not teach. We need to be proactive in learning new skills and being aware of the changes in our industry of choice.