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Preparing the next generation for new jobs

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From left: Pang Yee Beng, senior vice-president for commercial business in South Asia and Korea at Dell EMC, David Yeo, chief learning architect at Kydon Group, and Hajar Ali, founder of Urbane Nomads, at the dialogue session organised by Dell EMC.

WHILE the next generation of workers are familiar and well-equipped with new technologies, the challenge for these workers is to be ready for the future workplace.

This message was loud and clear to the audience at a dialogue session, titled "Realising the Future of Work: A Divided Vision", which was organised by Dell EMC.

Speaking at the dialogue, Pang Yee Beng, senior vice-president for commercial business in South Asia and Korea at Dell EMC, said: "Some job losses may happen in some years, but more will be created, at least that is from our optimistic point of view."

In agreement, David Yeo, chief learning architect of training and development company Kydon Group, said: "Jobs will be lost, but new jobs will be free, and that is how the world has always been.

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"If you take a more optimistic viewpoint, we should be excited that more interesting jobs will be on the plate for everybody - more interesting jobs available for the new generation."

And he added that he cannot predict what type of new jobs will be available for the next generation, because the technology in the future will be quite different.

Mr Pang said that he too is unable to identify what sort of jobs are available in the future, but he pointed out that future jobs could perhaps be those that are less labour intensive.

Using an example of the self-driving car, he said: "We now need people that sit higher up in the value chain, to be able to monitor and control the car so that it is safe for the passengers."

Mr Pang offered a few pieces of advice to future job seekers and human resource (HR) managers, in terms of what companies are looking for when job roles are uncertain and evolving.

He shared a story of what he learnt during a visit to Pivotal Software, a subsidiary of Dell Technologies.

Pivotal Software told him that the company was looking for four main qualities in candidates. First of all, they should have empathy. The next is speed - how fast the candidate can work and think.

The third quality would be abstract, the ability to react accordingly to an unpredictable future. Lastly, the company told him that the candidate must be proficient in algorithms, meaning that he or she must be able to code no matter the job role assigned.

Other than the uncertainty behind future job roles, experts at the dialogue also highlighted how technology has influenced the future workforce.

Hajar Ali, founder of luxury adventure travel company Urbane Nomads, said: "With the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), people are going to find work that is more fulfilling for them, more of a personal satisfaction."

She emphasised that technology like the Internet has helped to equalise the playing field between small companies and large companies.

As a former real estate agent, Ms Ali said she felt frequently frustrated that she was limited by the local market.

She wanted to be able to create a more international impact and reach to a more global audience. On a trip to the remote Argentinian Patagonia, she got the idea to become a travel designer. She then set up her own travel agency that specialises in luxury travel to remote places.

She said that she learnt how to make her own website, what sort of marketing niche she occupied, and used those skills in the development of her company.

Mr Yeo stressed that the future generation of workers need to "flame the passion". And this is done through self-directedness, which he said that Ms Ali demonstrated.

He said that future workers should know the objective they want to achieve, put up personal scaffolds and find resources to build themselves forward.

"Don't take a victim mentality that the government or the HR officer is going to feed me. But have self-directedness in the sense that this is my personal mission - where do I get the resources to help me. "

As such, he believes that this mindset would make adapting to the future workplace much easier.

Mr Pang said he realised that in his children's generation, they prefer to learn by themselves than have a lecturer talking to them.

"In fact, I think they don't feel that they learn anything when they attend lectures. They rather look at the video or what was taped."

Mr Yeo added that business owners, organisations and educators should not bind future workers and keep them in the more traditional way of thinking.

His views echoed the majority opinion in the Vanson Bourne survey of 3,800 global business leaders.

From that survey, more than two-thirds of the respondents in Singapore, or 71 per cent, agree that schools will need to teach how to learn rather than what to learn to prepare students for jobs that do not exist yet. This was significantly higher than the global average of 56 per cent.

Mr Yeo said: "Learning will no longer be the unidirectional consumption of content from knowledge gurus. Instead, everyone will have to co-create value in a networked learning ecosystem to make themselves more relevant, and to make organisations they serve in more competitive.

"Creating this new competitive edge will be through the empowerment of new generation learners with new tools for thinking and collaboration."