A recent report released by The Department of Statistics Malaysia has revealed that the number of unemployed in November 2021 has been reduced to below 700,000 persons for the first time, the lowest since April 2020. Surely a cause for celebration, right?
Except not really, since unfortunately underemployment and low-paid jobs are also increasing, and employment has to be linked with wages. Otherwise, “we get more people employed on lower wages and that is not so positive as the numbers suggest” – quoting the Malaysian University of Science and Technology’s Institute of Post-graduate Studies dean Dr. Geoffrey Williams – as said to The Malaysian Reserve.
In other news, The World Economic Forum (WEF) warns in The Future of Jobs Report 2020 that recession and the robot revolution may displace 85 million jobs by 2025. There is a silver lining though – an estimated 97 million other jobs would be created, especially in industries requiring soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity, reasoning, and communication.
And in other news? The 2021 Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) Salary Survey for Executives and Non-Executives found that English proficiency is among the top five skills that employers look for when hiring. In fact, those with good English language skills enjoy greater career benefits, including higher starting salaries, faster progression through job grades, better salary increases, and more opportunities for global postings or assignments.
So how is this news connected?
To us, these are clear signs that if there was ever a good time to reskill and upskill, it would be now. Of course, there have been a lot of conversations in recent years about the importance of upskilling and reskilling, but nothing compares to how the pandemic has accelerated the need for effective and efficient upskilling and reskilling programs.
The WEF says that to keep their jobs in the next five years, 50 percent of workers will need to reskill. In fact, by 2022, 42 percent of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change.
Furthermore, the gap between what the academic institutions deliver and what organizations need has widened so much in recent years, that hiring and recruitment in Malaysia have essentially become a battleground in which companies are fighting to hire the best talents from a shrinking pool, and it does not even end there – talent retention efforts come next. Some organizations have even taken matters into their own hands by going beyond the normal office perks and providing and creating a culture of continuous learning that focuses on professional development.
Organizations are having to reconsider who they are, what they do, and who their customers and competitors could be. But the onus should not be on organizations alone. In order to thrive in the near future, even individuals must find ways to assimilate with technology and focus on adding the right skills. Moving forward, this could be the only way one could enhance their employability.
It is a race against time, and as the adage says, time slows for no one. In this case, everyone in the workforce – even the C-level executives – is not exempted from adding skills to their professional repertoire.