The 8 New Skills Every University Graduate Must Acquire to Make it in the 21st Century
Via LinkedIn : As I stated in my other article, being streetwise has become more important to university graduates than possessing a degree qualification. The main reason is that the job supply and demand equation where there are far less formal jobs than the graduates that need the jobs. This imbalance has led to high academic inflation where the value of university education has plummeted in relation to the demand. The world of jobs and careers has become more complex than before and, without acquiring new skills, most university graduates will struggle to secure their financial futures and make it in the real world.
I am an advocate for university graduates seizing full control of their post education life and stop hoping and depending on the system to give them a livelihood and a happy life. To keep believing on luck and fortune is fatal and will be a major source of disappointment and regret. In that case, university graduates require a different mindset, a different strategy and a different approach to dealing with their futures. The best mindset is the mindset of being ready to rely on their own personal initiative to create financial opportunities for themselves, either through self-employment, starting own businesses no matter how small or becoming entrepreneurs. Even those who aspire for careers in the corporate world must not wait for such opportunities while they are doing nothing except applications; they must immediately start experimenting with self-employment and creating businesses while they are searching for jobs and employment. Here are specific new things students must acquire in order to increase their odds of success post graduation.
1. Graduates must learn and acquire political skills
This is not about being involved in national politics, but understanding how to navigate the social scene. This is so critical given that getting employment is not less about how good your qualifications are but about how you navigate the social scene. Even in many organisations, political skills assist in getting promoted, even though this does not mean you are capable and may backfire if you get promoted to positions of your incompetence and the political structure changes.
2. Graduates must learn and acquire leadership skills
Contrary to the academic literature in leadership which assumes that leaders are born, there is leadership potential in every human being. In addition, many aspects of leadership can be acquired and leadership abilities can be improved. My experience as a people developer, trainer and strategist with people and organisations clearly shows that the major problem is lack awareness among most people of their potential for leadership plus a poor definition of what leadership is all about. Leadership is never about formal authority or formal position.
Learning and acquiring leadership skills is a great escape for university graduates because you do not need any academic qualification to be a leader. And you do not have to apply to anybody to be a leader. When you chose to lead and do what you must do to become a better leader every day, you will find yourself being pulled into leadership positions. It will happen automatically. There will always be a shortage of leaders in the world, a great opportunity for graduates. In my leadership development programs I teach that there are four strands for leadership development;
- Self exploration and self discovery and self development-The first pillar of leadership development (Self Leadership)
- Mastering leadership philosophy-Understanding what leadership is all about
- Acquiring leadership skills-Including speaking, communication, thinking, decision making and people skills.
- Practising leadership-The application part which is the missing link in many academic leadership training course and programs
3. Graduates must learn and acquire Digital Skills
Any graduates who ignores the digital world is heading for gloom. Knowing computer and mobile phone skills is key including the internet especially social media and research
4. Graduates must learn and acquire marketing and sales skills
Marketing is everything in the world of commerce. The first thing graduates must learn to market is marketing themselves. It is about how to package the best they have about themselves and promoting it in the best possible way to the best markets. Many university graduates are not aware that they are brands and they must view themselves and brands and manage themselves as brands if they are to make it. Then graduates must also have basic marketing skills to help them succeed if they choose self- employment or running their own businesses or becoming entrepreneurs. How they sell what they have is key to success rather than actually what they have. The major problem is most graduate try to sell just their degrees because that is all they know about themselves, which is a tragedy because university graduates are a lot more than just warehouses of academic knowledge, information and facts.
5. Graduates must learn and acquire a self-education philosophy
As university students, our major goal for going to university is to get a degree so that we can get a good job. We learn for certificates. That philosophy persists after university. Once we graduate, we stop learning, and if at all we think about learning, we think in terms of formal qualifications, joining the rat race.
The 21st Century requires that we expand our learning horizons beyond what we studied in university and school in order to escape tunnel vision and improve our abilities to play the game in different team setting. You do not need to go to university to learn marketing in order to be good at marketing. There is a lot of subject material you can teach yourself, a lot of skills to you can practice by yourself and a lot of self-discovery you can do about yourself. Exposing yourself to different fields in no way displaces your degree qualifications, instead it enriches what you already possess and give you some edge over others with the same degree qualification as yours.
6. Graduates must learn strategy
The idea is not so that you can become a master strategist, but so that you can improve your life and your chances of making it in life. Many people think of strategy I terms of business and organisations, but strategy is key in all areas of life including personal life situations. The more strategic you are, and the more strategies you have to handle a situation, the more successful or the more chances of success you have. The one with good goal achievement strategies becomes more successful than the one who does not have those skills.
7. Graduates must learn self management
Self management is a key aspect of living a good life. The critical part of it is learning to managing the following personal attributes
- Managing one’s thinking and one’s thoughts to ensure that our thinking does not become the biggest barrier to achieving our goals (Mindset)
- Managing ones skills and abilities and how to develop and use them effectively
- Managing one’s emotional life including how to deal effectively with negative situations and negative emotions and making good use of emotions to create powerful emotional experiences and achieving goals (Understanding and mastering emotions)
- Managing one’s physical vitality
- Taking charge of one’s life and avoiding depending on the environment for success
8. Graduates must learn and acquire problem solving skills
Trying to figure out for the first time how to solve a problem when the problem is already with us is a major human problem. The world has many unexpected situations that require that we get into a problem-solving mode and find a solution. When we lack the ability to solve problems, we get stuck and fail to overcome the situations and to enjoy life. If we consciously develop problem solving skills, we are more prepared to deal with problems as they arise, making it easier to overcome most of our challenge early enough before they degenerate into crises.
While in life there are not many guarantees, and I am not guaranteeing that by learning these skills, every graduate will make it in life. What I know is these skills will dramatically improve the probability of success of those who follow up and take physical action on the eight skills.
Some of the concepts discussed here appear in an upcoming book, “From Dreams to Reality, A Strategic Step by Step by Guide to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Enjoy Your Life” by Simon Bere and Sifelani Jabangwe.
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