A Weekly Reflection - A Skills Mismatch

A Weekly Reflection - A Skills Mismatch

Last week, we mentioned that universities are failing for primarily three reasons - an imprudent vision, an outdated pedagogy and a mismatch of skills. In our introductory blog, the existential dread mentioned, a phenomenon that fresh graduates and disillusioned members of the working world are facing, requires a deeper reflection, a reflection that will realise in an epiphany that the cause of such a dread lies in the antecedent, our formal education. We live in a world where ambitious people, people who wish to effect meaningful change in this world, are more existential than ever before.

53% of Singaporean graduates work in fields unrelated to what they studied. On a global scale, this number is a lot worse, with 73% of university graduates working in fields unrelated to what they studied at university. A primary driving factor is the shorter cycles of the creation and adoption of new technologies, demanding novel skills immediately while making skills redundant at a much faster rate than ever before.

Over a series of twitter posts during the week, we covered some prominent issues of skills mismatch in today's world:

  1. The World Economic Forum noted that 65% of students entering primary school today will end up working jobs that don’t exist yet. 27% of university graduates work in jobs related to their degree. Formal education systems encourage conformity and standardisation, sadly leading to a lack of applicable skills being picked up by students to be used in the real world. To close the skills gap, creativity must be apotheosized into our educational systems through the introduction of peer groups, in-class projects and industry immersion.
  2. With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, skills gaps are expected to widen and grow. The World Economic Forum highlighted that "at least 133 million new roles generated as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms may emerge globally by 2022". It's 2022 now and are we ready? Firms do not have the resources to constantly upskill or reskill their workers, so the liability of preparing people for a world that has dynamic demands falls on to educational institutions. If it were solved, we wouldn't still consider skills mismatch to be a problem.
  3. Research from YouGov says “What you study at university is unlikely to be what you end up doing as a career.” There are a lot of factors determining which field or industry has the widest gap of skills mismatches but what is certain is that large structural inefficiencies are driving this, demanding a change in the tertiary education system.

People have more realistic options other than traditional career paths but traditional education structures have been slow to react because they have no incentive to change their model of learning or it may be that they've grown too big to effect changes quickly enough. We need to reimagine what it means to conceptualise and effectively propagate the knowledge that defines our times and build the relevant structures, whether abstract or physical, to house and organise this learning.

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