WHAT will be the biggest unseen challenge for new graduates entering the workforce? According to author Thomas Friedman, it will be a shape-shifting job landscape. “Today’s workers need to approach the workplace much like athletes preparing for the Olympics, with one difference. They have to prepare like someone who is training for the Olympics but do not know what sport they are going to enter,” he wrote in The World is Flat.

Skills and jobs are changing at an accelerated pace - an estimated 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. The double disruption of automation and recession from the pandemic has pushed the adoption of technology across companies, which the World Economic Forum predicts will transform tasks, jobs and skills by 2025.

Continuous skill development will be the only lifeline in this new future of work. To successfully equip themselves for the jobs of tomorrow, here are four skilling trends every worker must take note of and navigate.

Stack skills flexibly

Landing the first job can be a challenge for those without prior work experience. The good news is, there are rising opportunities to flexibly build in-demand skills that employers are looking for.

Online Professional Certificates, developed and offered by some of the world’s top employers, including Google, IBM, Meta and Salesforce, can help fresh talents build entry-level skills for fast-growing digital jobs - at their own pace and convenience, even while they are still in college or doing an internship.

Since these certificates have been designed by industry leaders to fill real-world talent gaps, they are closely aligned to the skills employers are recruiting for right now. These certifications do not call for experience or even a college degree, so irrespective of the background -based on abilities, aptitude and interests – anyone can choose a course that makes them job-ready.

In the long run, entry-level online professional certificates can also open pathways to coveted careers, in fields like data science for instance. Certificates like Google Data Analytics and IBM Data Science are popular among Malaysian learners.

These certificates enable them to build foundational skills and act as building blocks, that learners can “stack” data science capabilities by learning online, gradually expanding the breadth and depth of skills needed to meaningfully upskill for a career in data science.

Upskilling or reskilling

Layering on new skills or elevating one’s current skill set can lead to lucrative opportunities, taking their career to the next level. A report by recruitment experts Hays indicated that 94% of respondents in Malaysia find upskilling important, particularly in the areas of digital and remote-working related skills. Similarly, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s 2021 Digital Talent Survey found 85% of companies recognise the need to reskill their employees.

As businesses juggle between crisis response and growth-oriented strategies, and reflect back on the learnings of the pandemic, the importance of balancing both soft and technical skills is becoming increasingly evident. The most transferable skills across all future jobs are human skills, like problem-solving and communication, computer literacy and career management.

Track skills

Malaysian companies are fast-tracking digital transformation, which is changing the skills these companies are investing in and looking for. Today, enterprises across sectors in the country are upskilling and reskilling talent from within, to stay ahead in the region’s fast-changing digital landscape.

Understanding how skills are intersecting at the workplace can help you decide the direction in which to upskill or reskill.

A study by Coursera, an open online course provider, on “The Fastest Growing Job Skills of 2022” shows that managing and visualising data has now become a business-wide skill requirement, needed by human resources to identify skill gaps, as it is by sales teams to analyse their performance.

The report highlights the changing role of data in an organisation, with the fastest-growing skills including “plotting data”, “statistical visualisation”, “security strategy skills” and “cloud infrastructure”.

Data is no longer the preserve of scientists and tech professionals. Be it a marketer or a product manager, building data-centric skills can be invaluable to level up one’s career.

Be open to remote revolution

The jobs of the future will not be location-bound, and neither should one’s career. Remote job postings on LinkedIn increased more than five times during the pandemic.

Some of the fastest-growing remote jobs reported for Malaysia include customer support representative, data entry specialist and inside sales representative.

Many digital jobs, in particular, can be done remotely. And since it is possible to build skills for these jobs online, more Malaysian workers can now both learn and work from anywhere, reaching for opportunities globally.

Continuous reskilling and upskilling will be key to advancing at the workplace from here on. By adapting and developing skills flexibly online, every Malaysian professional can be equipped to alter course nimbly, staying relevant and productive through every career shift.

Raghav Gupta, Managing Director – Asia Pacific, Coursera, an open online course provider.