Attaining a university degree is no longer assurance for a job in today’s competitive market, for several reasons. One is because of the huge number of people coming out of school with university degrees. The competition is just massive. Secondly, technology has taken up most of the jobs that used to be filled up by fresh graduates. Think of the preparation of accounts and contracts or bank tellers. This reality may get even worse as Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning advance.
Another reason -and a major one- is the wide skills-gap between what employers want and what universities are producing. A recent survey conducted by the Global Higher Education company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), explains this better. For 13 out of the 15 on-demand skills identified by the survey, a serious imbalance was discovered between their demand and supply. In this article, you will learn what exactly you need to be attractive to today’s employers.
21st Century Skills
According to UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education, 21st-century skills refer to “An overarching concept for the knowledge, skills, and attitudes citizens need to be able to fully participate in and contribute to the knowledge society”. By this definition, you realize that you not only need the credentials (knowledge) but also skills and attitudes (what we like to refer to as Mindsets at ALX).
A bachelor’s degree does a lot to equip you with specialized knowledge in a certain field. But do you actually know how to apply those skills in a real-world setting? How well do you work with others? Can you solve problems and make decisions out of huge piles of data? How do you manage and allocate resources during a project? All these skills are crucial and are demanded by employers. This is why the ALX Launchpad empowers Young Leaders with these critical meta-skills through our four tracks (Communicating for Impact, Data and Decisions, Project Management, and Entrepreneurial Leadership), in order to make them better prepared to face today’s competitive and complex job market.
Values and Mindsets
How do you articulate and carry yourself while among others (self and people leadership)? Are you overly aggressive or humble but confident? “Humble confidence is a very essential mindset in today’s hiring ecosystem, you don’t want to come out as an overly aggressive person”, says Susan Omedi, Head of People & Operations at VSO. You need to cultivate a strong value system and mindset in order to be attractive to employers. Because of this, values like Continuous Learning, Humility, Ownership, Integrity, Restless Excellence, Boldness, and Diversity are deeply engraved in what we do at ALX.
Network and Connections
You probably saw this coming. Do you have people who can vouch for your skills, your character, your work ethic? Can they refer you to potential employers or even hire you themselves? You need to have a strong professional network. Well, we won’t ignore the fact that not everyone hails from a socially connected background. However, can networks and connections be built? Of course. There are so many people in their advanced career levels who are looking to mentor and coach young and upcoming professionals. There are also communities that you can join and start building connections.
Here’s How We Build Networks at The ALX Launchpad
First, our Young Leaders are inducted into a community of leading changemakers across Africa and in the world. This is a community that has been built over the 14 years of operation of the African Leadership Group. While being assimilated into the community, they are then connected to organizations by working with and solving real problems for them, through the Project Management track. Finally, they are placed in the same room with managers who are currently taking part in our Xcelerator program. This is an opportunity for the Young Leaders to show off the networking skills they have gained through our Career Ownership track. Incredible, isn’t it?
Are you ready to Own Your Journey?
While there is a continuous change in the demands of industry and the job market, only those who take conscious and deliberate action will be able to maneuver these complexities and succeed. Opportunities might never be enough for everyone. It’s up to you to take advantage of what you have and actively evolve in order to succeed in today’s job market.