Career choice: Why learners should put focus on new skills

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Students at a graduation ceremony. Both teachers and students should do more research on the new trends in the market to stay updated about the available opportunities. (Photo by Lydia Atieno)

Back in the day, all one had to do was go to school, pursue a career and be sure to land a juicy job thereafter. But not anymore, especially with the current digital revolution. We are now in an era where one has to adapt to emerging skills and careers in order to fit in this competitive world, mostly on the part of students.

Having a university transcript is no longer enough, and what matters is how one adapts to current labour market demands. This, therefore means that institutions of learning ought to adjust how they package content so that students acquire skills relevant to today’s job market.

Emerging skills and careers

Sanely Mukasa, an educator, says with the changing times has come new opportunities and careers in areas such as business, education, entertainment and ICT, among others. These opportunities, he says, call for skills such as creativity, critical thinking, entreprenurship skills and many others.

For Jackyline Mbabazi, the human Resource manager at Arc Tech Limited, an engineering and construction company based in Kigali, many things have changed and everything is almost digitalised, which calls for new skills.

She notes that today a career in IT is more ideal because the world is embracing digital technology at a high rate and a lot of work revolves around it.

“This career provides one with a variety of options and its on high demand on the market. Another important aspect of this career is that it provides room for one to grow as they get acquainted with the latest technology trends,” she says.

Mbabazi also says a career in IT is more affordable compared to other courses, explaining that this is so because it has a variety of free packages online.

Samuel Birondwa, the headmaster at Cornerstone Leadership Academy in Rwamagana, Eastern Province, says the entertainment industry today also offers many employment opportunities.

“More people are going to the entertainment industry because there are many aspects to explore. For instance, one can focus on things like sound engineering, deejaying, and playing music instruments, among others. If one is passionate in this field, I believe enrolling in it will not lead to any regrets. ,” he says.

However, Birondwa advises that for one to enroll in such fields they should be driven by passion not money.

Dr Emmanuel Muvunyi, the director of Higher Education Council (HEC), says for one to cope in this digitalised world, they require critical thinking and creative skills.

“For any career one takes, being able to think critically and solving problems systematically will help them adapt to any field they are in easily,” he says.

How to remain updated

Mukasa says the growth the world and specifically Rwanda is experiencing today is also transforming the kind of careers open on the market.

“For students to better position themselves in the dynamic work environment, they need to network with practitioners in their fields of study, and this can happen during events specific to that career,” he says.

Mukasa notes that as we join the fourth industrial revolution led by technology and digitalisation, it’s important that both teachers and students use education as a tool for positioning themselves for future careers.

He points out that education should train students to be grounded in practical skills if they are to enjoy opportunities the future holds.

“Education should produce graduates who are dynamic, open-minded about trying opportunities outside their fields of study and able to learn on-job instead of looking at school as the end of learning,” says Mukasa.

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Having IT skills offers graduates better chances of getting employment. (Net photo)

Prof Okwach Abagi, an expert in institutional development, says even with emerging careers, the fundamental thing is people to adapt to the new world, where the style of teaching and learning has to change.

“In my view, I believe all careers are and will remain important depending on how one positions themselves. Instead, it’s technology that is moving the world. So, what is required is one to be competent in the field and be able to communicate well. This is becoming more critical as we are now in a knowledge-based society,” he says.

Abagi explains that the reason graduates fail to adapt to the new market is because they are not competent enough as they lack good communication skills.

He adds that it’s important that such new skills are taught in institutions so that it prepares the graduates to face this highly competitive world.

Abagi, however, advises that students at all levels should try as much as possible to have multiple skills. He gives an example where before, one used to train as a doctor and that’s it. But today, the same doctor should be in a position to learn and adapt to the new skills required in medical departments vital for the 21st century.

What institutions should do

Muvunyi says skills are very crucial and should be integrated at all levels of education.

“Rwanda like any other country is going global and we need to look at these skills in a wider scope. I believe teachers need such skills so that they pass them on to students,” he says.

Muvunyi notes that teachers should be at the forefront by doing more research so that they keep their students updated with new skills.

He also notes that students have a responsibility to find out what is required of them in the market. “They should do that by strengthening the culture of research using different materials.”

Mukasa adds that institutions of learning should also help their learners to research about emerging career trends so that before enrolling to programmes and courses, they have a clear picture of what the future holds for such careers.

Are some careers fading away?

Careers don’t go to extinction, but it’s the employee absorption rate that reduces over time as a result of automation and digitalisation of most services, according to Mukasa.

For instance, he says,“we still need statisticians and economists to help the country interpret the performance of the economy. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t have software to help the planning authorities to forecast all the economic changes,” he says.

He further explains that this integration of digital solutions is the one that reduces the number of certain jobs and hence compromises employability for many.

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Ivy Kamugisha

Ivy Kamugisha, student at University of Kigali

 I think to better position ourselves in this fast changing world as students we need to use technology not only in communication but as an integral part of our studies. We should learn how to be more innovative so that we can grab the opportunities on the market today.

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Munyeshyaka

Venuste Munyeshyaka, student at University of Rwanda

As learners, we should be able to learn beyond what we are taught in the classroom. The best way to adapt to the new skills is to seek opportunities to apply them in real life. Additionally, teachers should be at the forefront in assisting us to become more competent after school.

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Bizimana

Ezekiel Bizimana, student at University of Rwanda

Our role as students is to find out the latest trends in our fields of study so that we are able to predict how this will benefit us after or while still at school. However, institutions should also provide opportunities for learners to find out what the market needs.

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Josette Isimbi

Josette Isimbi, student at University of Kigali

I think keeping our minds open and willing to learn new skills can help us to be more updated on what is needed. However, a lot is needed on the part of schools to find ways of updating their students with what is happening out there.

Rwanda Decides