[EDITORIAL] AnimatED: Today’s graduates and the world’s demands

Rappler.com
You belong to what is now called the post-digital age and a much more exacting world

Whether you breezed or struggled through it, you’re here now, in your moment, dear graduate. Congratulations to you, congratulations to your parents!

It’s a time for celebration in a nation that puts high premium on education, even at the cost of separation of families for parents who toil abroad just to put you to school.

For you who are conscious of these sacrifices, you know it’s time to give back.

For many of you who are eager to leave your regimented college life, you know it’s not going to be easy.

You belong to what is now called the post-digital age.

What has transpired since you first stepped into college is a fast-break of upheavals in your life and your society – whether this involved how you made friends, researched for your papers, received money from your overworked parents, or how you chose your leaders. 

These changes have eased many things for you, but they have also complicated the world you will soon be shaping as you join the work force.

Robots may one day replace you. It is, after all, the age where intelligence has become artificial and machines are now learning. Labor is being automated at a pace that human beings are not psyched up for.

In Southeast Asia alone, at least a quarter of the jobs may be automated in the next decade or so, according to the International Labor Organization. The BPO industry here, which as of 2017 remained the biggest job generator, will soon tap machines as its call center agents.

You are also joining a Philippine labor force of more than 40.335 million Filipinos as of 2017, a number that is lower than in the previous year. Not to burst your bubble this early, but a leftist think tank said the job losses last year were the worst since the 1997 Asian financial crash.

Yet, you are going to conquer a world of endless possibilities. 

For while technology has disrupted your environment, it has also opened the global stage for you, where you can now compete with the best, collaborate with young professionals from thousands of miles away, and pitch projects virtually to investors and employers on the lookout for new ideas. You are more connected and agile than any graduates who came before you.

While technology has now robbed you of certain tasks and jobs, it has also highlighted the need for skills that could never be automated – working hard and ethically, communicating well, thinking critically, persuading people, negotiating conflicts, making judgment calls, among others. You are more challenged than any graduates who came before you.

It’s by no coincidence, for instance, that in JobStreet’s 2018 Fresh Graduates Report, the highest paid jobs for fresh grads were in the fields of high-level skills: law, public relations or communication, and journalism.

What are we saying? 

Four years in college have not adequately prepared you for what lies ahead. 

The new world demands continuing education, and in your case, that process should begin while you’re hunting for jobs. 

As more jobs are passed on to machines, you need to take stock of what skills you need to enhance to make you irreplaceable.

And as countries become more insular, societies seem more discriminating, and leaders turn more tyrannical, you need to find value in caring for more than the paychecks you are aspiring to bring home.

You’ve come this far. You can begin to dream again.

But first know how the world has both vastly changed and has remained the same. – Rappler.com