University degrees have long been the cornerstone for young people stepping out in the job market. It is the one thing around which future careers and in most cases, whole lives revolve. A degree in a specific subject will result in a specific job and in turn, future relevant jobs. But times have changed. Although degrees are still relevant and important in today’s job market, they alone do not define career paths for young professionals anymore.
In a survey in the United States, more than half of jobseekers surveyed said they did not expect to stay in the same industry long term. Another survey of 25- to 34-year olds by Monster.com found out that 26% of respondents saw themselves moving into a new career path within the next five years.
In the digital age we are living in now, more people are opting to learn skills that give them an edge over the rest. Employers are also looking to hire candidates that bring practical skills to the table and can offer something extra than just the theoretical knowledge gained in classrooms.
We look at some skills we feel young professionals should learn if they want to stand out from the crowd. We have also included free resources from where the following skills and tools can be learned.
Why coding? Well, because code runs the world now. Code is the backbone of everything that is run by a computer. In this day and age, it is hard to think of something that is not in some way dependent on technology.
Coding opens up a lot of possibilities, both in terms of professional and personal growth. At a personal level, coding fosters creativity and the possibilities of what you can do with it are endless. Professionally, on the other hand, coding is a skill in very high demand and gives prospective employees an edge when applying for jobs.
Coding, along with programming as a whole, has become that one skill which everybody wants to learn. The applications of coding are vast, and learning it should be on the to-do list of anyone looking for something new to add to their portfolio, if only just to brag.
Where to learn from
Coursera: An online platform that gives access to free courses from top universities and organisations in a wide range of subjects, including numerous courses on coding. The courses and learning material are completely free but users have to pay for a university certification, if they want one.
Google Grasshopper: A mobile application by Google to teach you the very basics of coding in a fun and interactive way. Through visual puzzles and quizzes, Grasshopper will develop your problem-solving skills and solidify coding concepts. You'll get real time feedback on your answers to help guide you through the lessons.
2. Data handling (MS Excel)
Data is the backbone of most top organisations and is collected by researchers to make sense of the world and by marketers to sell their products better. With so much data coming out every second, it is a no-brainer that there are people organising and analysing raw data constantly. And it is no secret that most of them use Microsoft Excel.
Excel, first launched in 1985, is without doubt the most widely used data handling software, whether it be for business or private purposes. At first glance, Excel seems like a simple tool to save, organise and sort data. But once you delve into the various functions it offers, the applications of it are extensive.
As more and more organisations have started using data analysis to make informed business decisions, the demand for skilled data handlers is also on the rise. If you want to be part of that highly skilled cohort, Excel is the tool to learn.
Where to learn from
Udemy: An online learning and teaching marketplace with over 100,000 courses and 24 million students. Udemy offers over 100 free courses related to various functions of Excel, ranging from courses for beginners to data visualisation or business analysts.
GCFLearnFree.org: This online platform offers 29 video tutorials on various functions of Excel. You can learn the basics and the more complicated functions of the software and take a quiz at the end to see how much you’ve gained from it.
Microsoft Excel Help Centre: Sometimes you don’t want to go through complete courses to learn about a specific function. For that, the Microsoft help centre comes in handy. You can search for very specific problems you might be stuck with and the Office support would help you out.
3. Graphic designing/Video editing
In this digital age, it is hard to imagine a world without visual representations. In the United Kingdom alone the creative industry raked in more than £100 billion and employed more than 2 million people in 2017. And the demand will only increase in the future.
In Pakistan the freelance industry is also exponentially on the rise. This is the right time to learn skills like graphic designing and video editing and try and get into the freelance market to earn big bucks.
Where to learn from
Udemy: It offers hundreds of free courses on graphic design and video editing, ranging from basic to more advanced courses. And for people who would like to go out an extra mile, Udemy offers paid courses for more advanced aspects of graphic design and video editing.
Coursera: Like Udemy, Coursera also offers more than a hundred free courses on graphic design and video editing. Coursera curates courses from top universities around the US and other organisations.
4. Digital marketing
With everything else going digital, it only made sense for marketing to jump on the bandwagon. As more and more people go digital through smartphones, more so in developing countries like Pakistan, marketers have also turned their attention to the digital space.
While this may not be something new in developed countries, penetration of digital mediums in countries like Pakistan is still very recent. And so, the scope to market products and services to the newly inducted digital users is huge. With such an opportunity lying ahead, digital marketing is a must-learn skill for people looking to operate business and trying to sell something in Pakistan.
Where to learn from
Coursera/Udemy: It might be getting repetitive but Coursera and Udemy are comprehensive resources to learn numerous different topics. With hundreds of different courses on various aspects of digital marketing, from experts and universities around the world, these platforms can set you on the path to be a digital marketing expert in a short period of time.
Google Digital Garage: Google platforms offer free online marketing training to get the digital skills you need to grow your business and your career. The majority of the courses are free, and approved by industry experts, top entrepreneurs and some of the world’s leading employers. So you can be sure you’re learning up-to-date, real-world, skills that help you reach your goal.
5. A new language
Learning a new language will set you apart from your peers and give you a professional edge in more ways than one. It can give you the opportunity to apply for jobs that require multi-lingual candidates and will help you with work if you must travel to a foreign country.
But learning a new language does not just help you professionally. Research shows that people who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, have enhanced concentration, a greater ability to multitask, and better listening skills.
Where to learn from
Duolingo: If you’ve ever thought of learning a new language online, you would have heard of Duolingo. Its lessons adapt to your learning style and exercises are tailored to help you learn and review vocabulary effectively.
Open Culture: This is another free platform that offers 48 free language learning courses on its platform. Open Culture can help you learn a popular language like English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, or Mandarin. It also offers courses for languages such as Farsi/Persian, Estonian, Icelandic and Gaelic.