The Old ‘STEM’ Days...
Let’s play a game of Russian roulette. Doctor, lawyer, accountant or engineer - take your pick. Let the game decide your future for you.
For decades now, these conventional career routes have been heavily imprinted onto young minds, with other potential future pathways neglected. Given that the world we live in is increasingly digitised, pursuing a career in the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field might still appear as the obvious choice. However, with the rise of digitisation also comes a rise in new career opportunities as a byproduct of technological evolution (OECD, 2019). It is now the perfect time to embrace these emerging, rewarding job opportunities outside of the STEM bracket, which define and contribute to the future of the workforce landscape. This technological revolution enables the integration of the arts into professional careers, bringing the idea of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education into play. The digital world assists in the growth of interdisciplinary collaboration for both Arts and Science, thus, easing society into accepting the two on a level playing field. Careers in both arts and sciences would require their respective set of digital and traditional skills in the 21st century, and must be equally appreciated.
A Career in Digital is The Way Forward!
By considering the Arts as a legitimate line of work, what used to be “unconventional” careers like graphic design, digital marketing and digital content creators begin to gain serious traction. Some even being ranked as the Top 15 In-Demand Jobs 2021 by LinkedIn! Curious as to why this is so? Graphic design is a career that integrates both art and technology, making it an essential position to any company that requires brand or product recognition (which is most!). It is a skilled art form that allows companies to digitize their branding in order to penetrate the modern online business world. Graphic designers often assist in designing the user experience (UX designer) or user interface (UI designer) of company websites and mobile applications (Flavin, 2020).
A good graphic design with easy-to-interpret virtual elements can make or break the perception of the public toward a brand. Strong digital literacy, a good eye for art and driven passion are just some of the many quintessential traits that go into becoming a good graphic designer. Thus, the career has surfaced to become one of the most in-demand, highly rewarding jobs of today’s working world. Besides design, the world of marketing has always held a steady fort in every industry globally. As we delve deeper into technological revolution, there is no getting around the fact that every business must include digital marketing as a part of their marketing efforts . To add to this, when the entire world was stuck in their homes during quarantine due to the pandemic, consumer behaviour dramatically changed. Consumers were pushed further toward online services and virtual alternatives. In response, brands shifted their focus to spend even more on digital channels thus creating a spike in demand for digital marketers with social skills (Tesseras, 2021). According to data from Linkedin, paid social media marketers rose in demand by a whopping 116.4%. Hence, it is evident that knowing your way around the digital marketing realm is highly desirable in this age of employability. Digital marketing requires a thorough understanding of traditional marketing including understanding consumer bases and having close to perfect knowledge of the product or brand. On top of all this, digital marketers must be well-versed in the world of social media. Hashtags, viral trends, Gen-Z slang, the virtual marketing scene never sleeps and it is the digital marketer’s job to keep up to date with the bulk of it.
Learn to Adapt to the Workforce Digital Trend Shift
Clearly, there was an apparent shift in the trends of future work, and the internet played a big role in easing this transition. As digital literacy and skills rise to importance, it was pertinent that many gain opportunities to improve their digital skills to penetrate the modern workforce. Fortunately, there were many virtual learning sites that assist in sharpening online skills - you can get certified for them too! The Go Digital Programme, co-organised by Hong Leong Foundation and Mereka, aimed to provide that chance with a programme designed to enhance employability and digital skills of unemployed youths in Malaysia, besides connecting them to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and nonprofits nationwide. The programme bridged a clear gap between the lack of resources in local businesses and high-potential, aspiring individuals who seeked support to kickstart a career, especially in graphic design and digital marketing. The Go Digital programme provided training to youths in digital marketing and graphic design with LinkedIn accreditation and ensured them a 6-week job placement in local SMEs, NGOs, or social enterprises to assist local entrepreneurs with a digital transformation initiative. The programme also allocated digital marketing budgets to promote these local businesses and enhance their impact.