The 21st century workplace has taken a significant departure from the past. The pervasiveness of technology and the connected nature of global economy has transformed the job market into a more complex one.
As a result, one's career no longer follows a linear path that was common until a few decades ago. Previously, a fresh graduate used to be hired as a trainee and would then climb up the ranks, based on performance and seniority. But today, we are witnessing a vastly different scenario with a large part of manufacturing and labour-based jobs transforming rapidly, and knowledge and service-based careers on the rise.
The first job
So, what does all this mean to millennials? They can no longer afford to think in terms of one job and they will need to rethink how they wish to pursue their career path. Without a doubt, choosing the first job is going to be a big decision. The World Economic Forum's 2016 Human Capital Index report states that the in-demand occupations or specialities of today never existed a decade ago. Further, this pace of change is only going to get faster due to rapid advances in fields like robotics and biotechnology.
Hence, it is understandable that a millennial's first job is an idea fraught with uncertainty. How do millennials handle this uncertainty? By thinking like a designer. This is because the demand for critical thinking, creativity, and digital and presentation skills from potential employees has increased dramatically over the past few years. Several employers are now demanding problem-solving and enterprise skills from young graduates. Hence, millennials will have to make choices that will impact their future options. These include looking at what subjects to study at the senior secondary level, what courses to take for graduation and what kind of internships to undertake, among others.
While none of these choices are irreversible, they are important because they collectively shape a millennial's career and employment options over time. However, a change can be made by undertaking relevant online courses offered by many reputed institutions. These make it easy for millennials to upskill themselves by choosing appropriate courses.
Whatever choice the millennials are making now, they should remember that the era of a 'job for life' is over. Most of the millennials will have to move between roles throughout their careers. In fact, according to the Foundation for Young Australians 2016 report, millennials entering the workforce today might change their career five times and make an average of 17 job changes over the course of their career. This shows how many of our skills can be applied in different industries.
Need of the hour
Choosing a particular academic course is not enough to make millennials immune to the vagaries of the global economy. The key to being future-ready is creative thinking and design solutions. Design thinking is a forte that builds an immunity within your skill set and protects you from sudden changes caused by automation and globalisation in workplace. One's adaptability to the rapid changes taking place is enhanced by creative thinking.
The need of the hour for millennials is a combination of formal training, on-the-job training and experiential learning to develop specific technical skills and soft design skills. The world is changing faster than ever. In the midst of these shifts, designers have the crucial task of thinking about what our future will look like and how we will interact with it. The future belongs to design. So, make sure that you too belong to the future.
(The author is with Pearl Academy, New Delhi)