what is a skill? we might have asked this question at least once in our career.
A skill is the ability to do something well or perhaps we can call it expertise.
Whats your next move ?
A Game Called Life
It’s a great idea to think of our lives as one big video game. Hopefully, most of you have played video games at one point in your lives. To be a better player you need to get ahold of some skill. The objective of the game is to win. The objective of life is your goal. To be successful. The problem is, there is a lot of competition. The number of players is 7.6 billion and counting. What is our goal? Well, for most of us, it’s to study, get good grades, get a degree, land a job, get married and lead a great and luxurious life (perhaps not in the exact order). Most of us can probably make it to a degree, but what about after that?
Life is like a video game with only one life, no save points and more than 7 billion players.
Landing a job has become one of the more difficult missions/objectives in life. It’s not easy to get a job. To be more precise It’s not easy to get a job that pays well. With so many people passing their degrees every year, there just aren’t enough jobs to go around. To be more accurate, the quality of people coming out of a degree has fallen. So they just aren’t getting any jobs. We need to start thinking just how we are supposed to achieve our goals.
So What Changed?
A few years back, landing a good job with a reasonably good salary was not that difficult. Almost everyone who managed to grab a degree managed to lead a pretty successful career. But that’s not the case now. Back then, there were not that many colleges around, and not all families could afford a good education. As a result, the number of people coming out with a degree was limited.
They had a higher chance of being selected for a job because there were fewer players to compete against. It might seem cold and irrational, but it’s the truth. However today, colleges are popping up everywhere like weeds. They have turned the education system into a million-dollar business. In Kerala, there are so many engineering colleges that there aren’t enough students to fill all the seats. This means that any kid who passed their higher secondary education can get into a college to get an engineering degree.
The Quantity Increased But the Quality Dropped.
The Irony of Higher Education
Let’s take a moment and just consider the engineering syllabus in Kerala. Till last year, the syllabus was the same for almost 9 years. For a field like electronics or computer science, 1 year brings plenty of changes. Fun fact, in my final year of Btech Electronics, we learned about the structure of CRT monitor ( in the age of LED, OLED and AMOLED TV’s). I understand that we need to study the old technology, but what about the latest tech? How can we, who passed the engineering degree, call ourselves engineers if we don’t know the latest technology?
What’s truly ironic is that we learn about last century tech as the latest technology and the lecturers, students and even the education board knows it’s severely outdated. Truthfully a normal student who passed his/her degree in electronics engineering can’t even fix a broken radio ( even though we learned about making RF receivers). The ones that do know, learned by themselves through their own skills and hard work. Our Higher education system needs a major update.
It’s gotten so bad that there are plenty of people willing to work for a lesser salary than the past. suppose a job offers 8000 Rs ( Roughly $ 118 ) a month, there are plenty waiting to take the job. Even though it’s extremely low. As a result, the only jobs available aren’t really gonna pay much. That is if you managed to get selected for the job.
Truthfully, the competition is everyone else. Around 1.5 million (possibly more) students graduate B Tech (an engineering degree) every year. According to Aspiring Minds National Employability Report, which is based on a study of more than 1,50,000 engineering students who graduated in 2015 from over 650 colleges, 80% of them are unemployable.
So life’s tough, the competition just got a whole lot tougher.
A Real Life Experience.
Recently we hosted a recruitment drive at a college near us. It was a one-day event with only one company recruiting. We were looking or around 15 fresher’s to join the company. The number of students who attended that single drive was around 1178. That was a massive amount of a single company recruitment drive. The candidates attending were not just this year’s degree holders but also ones from last year, the year before that and as back as 4 years.
They had been job hunting for all this time and are jumping at each and every opportunity they can get.so that makes the competition much wider than your year/batch of graduates. It’s the same of just about every job opening, private and government alike.
It’s now apparent just how huge the competition is. If you have managed to secure a job in these conditions then that on its own is a great achievement. For those waiting in line for their chance and for those who have yet to graduate, what can you do to stand out among the thousands of participants near you?
Why should you learn a new Skill?
In this ever-growing society, we all strive to lead a better life. For that we need money, for that we need jobs. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned before, landing one isn’t that easy. Suppose you send your resume to a company. There are also thousands of others thinking the exact same thing. What do you have under your belt that makes you great for the job?
It’s a good idea to ask yourself that. If it’s just a degree, then it’s not going to be much different than the rest of the resumes flooding a company’s mailbox. You will need to stand out from the crowd to be noticed. Having a large set of skills is a great way to achieve that.
But what is a skill anyway? more accurately what can be called a relevant skill? whistling is a skill..but it’s not going to land you a job easily and it won’t be good to put that on your resume. A skill, to add to your resume, must have some practical application in the industry. So it’s a great idea to pick such skills and take the time to perfect them.
We might have often heard the phrase “ Jack of all trades, master of none” often times this phrase is discouraging one to learn new trades without mastering one. But the thing is, in this day and age, it’s actually far better to be a jack of all trades.
“ A jack of all trades, master of none, often times better than a master of one”
I heard this phrase on the internet a few days ago and it’s just so relevant to our current situation. Rather than spending years mastering one skill, learn the skill, perfect it to your ability and move on to the next. Having a large skill set is your greatest asset when in an interview. If you can multitask, that’s a skill. know how to code? , that’s a skill. Are you a quick learner? that’s a skill. What if you had all three skills? That makes you a better choice for a job.
What kind of skill’s should one learn?
It all depends on what kind of job you want and how much you can devote to learning something. It’s always good to have some skills like leadership skill, crisis management, multitasking, etc .. but you should do a little research on what kind of job you want and develop skills based on that. If you are aiming to be a programmer, the more coding languages you are familiar with and are comfortable with, the better your chance of getting a job is. Unfortunately, I can only speak in the context of the IT industry, but I’m hoping it’s the same for all the other industries too.
Programming languages change every day and according to the trend, new languages gain more popularity and old ones will slowly lose favor. If you spend all your time mastering one language, there is a chance it might become less popular in a few years. But if you spent your time learning multiple programming languages, you develop the ability to quickly transition from one or the other. If you can master them in the process, that’s always a good thing too.
It’s just like in most video games, the more skills your character has, the more his chance is in defeating that final boss. So that being said, take your time, learn something new, spend the time to polish up what you learned, gain experience and rise up to a better future.
What you learn will always be an asset to you. Your experiences, your knowledge, your hard work and your dedication all play a factor in you reaching the job of your dreams. So rise up, keep your head held high and take the time to learn more than just from the textbooks. After all, they are just the training wheels.