Being Relevant, Being There

Diwas Karki

As a kid whenever I looked to my elders and seniors, I used to always believe that after completing my school level I would be at ease and will not require to learn anymore. As I neared the completion of school level, I was compelled to reconsider my earlier held belief and felt that probably completing my graduation level would be required. Thereafter, I was forced to once again realign my thoughts, and post-graduation studies became the next essential finish line of the active learning stage which of course was a false belief.

As fate would have it, I eventually completed my post-graduate studies and got my first job thinking that the ‘golden era’ in my life had begun. I was naive and believed that I had made it once again. But, with the passage of time and numerous rough patches along the way, a new thought entered my mind when I realized that completing education is one thing and leading the life I desired was quite another.

Slowly but steadily, I began to refocus my efforts and started to look at the world from a different perspective. I was fortunate enough to have a supervisor who was very generous in supporting and guiding me both professionally and personally. He taught me right from the beginning of my career that in order to succeed in any task, it is paramount to have a deep understanding of the task that I had in my hand. And, the only way to really learn everything there is, you have to “Study”, that old term which I believed had ended with the completion of my formal education.

Work-life and completing the regular task was another thing and “Being Relevant” was completely another thing altogether which became really essential. The phrases “Being Relevant” along with “Being Updated” were time-bound since at any moment you could easily become “Irrelevant”. I realized that being on the top of my game was essential and I must always have the right knowledge mix along with the right skill to face any kind of weather. Although I was the same person, I had to adapt and revamp because the world was changing at a drastic pace and I was facing an exceedingly competitive environment.

The way things have evolved around us, especially with the advent of ubiquitous smart hand-held devices coupled with access to information, our lives have been permanently transformed. The pace at which the next industrial revolution is happening gives us a hint as to where we are headed. The following graph depicts the pace at which things are changing and how it is impacting everyday life.

The first industrial revolution started in the year 1784; it took 86 years for the second revolution and another 99 years for the third revolution. Now we are at the fourth revolution which took half the time. The pace of innovation and change is phenomenal and overwhelming. If we are not able to ride this wave of change, we might as well surrender and “Become Irrelevant”.

The way each and every individual has access to technology and that too at a very affordable rate brings us to an interesting point where every individual is increasingly more informed and more aware than ever before. The difference between “Being Relevant” and “Being Irrelevant” is about how many of us actually use this information for the right reason to learn and to acquire the skills needed to remain relevant.

As the world around us is changing rapidly, the more profound question remains whether the skill that we currently possess be sufficient to ride the wave and stay relevant, or will we become irrelevant and get swept away. The Big Question – “The skills that used to be essential or relevant before or for that matter even at present, will they still be applicable as we move ahead?” The Big Answer – “NO”. From the article published by World Economic Forum, we can clearly visualize that the skills required are changing and changing drastically. The top 10 skills that were required in the year 2015 and 2020 were as follows:

The above table clearly goes to show that in just five years, from the year 2015 to 2020, the skills that were once considered essential were replaced with a deeper focus was on the human mind and creativity. If this is the way things are changing, then there is an urgent need to embrace and adapt to the future in this ever-changing world that is characterized by VUCA – Volatility, Complexity, Uncertainty, and Ambiguity.

Another question, in the world characterized by VUCA, will the skills applicable for the year 2020 still be relevant in 2022? Some skills may remain relevant while others will have to be updated as shown in the Top 10 Skills of 2025 published by the World Economic Forum.

The future of jobs and the skills required have changed drastically from 2015, 2020 to 2025, and the need for us to reskill and upskill ourselves has become increasingly important. The report as per World Economic Forum also goes to suggest that almost half of us will be forced to reskill by the year 2025 because the very nature of our jobs will be completely transformed due to increasing levels of automation. To become future-ready, the need to take charge, and increase our skill levels will be vital.

What’s truer than ever before is the fact that people have more and more varied thought processes and equally varied needs and ambitions. As we move ahead at a greater pace with the thrust of change driven by either automation (or even the pandemic), one thing is for sure, the way things were done will never be the same. For that matter, the way we carried ourselves, how we interacted, and our set of skills are all quickly becoming irrelevant.

Going back to the fallacy of thought that I held in my younger days about having a life of ease after achieving a certain level of education and that being the end-all, I now realize that getting an education is just the start, and acquiring a certain skillset is just part of the journey. But to really get to where we want, we need to keep the momentum going, and this requires a lot of persistence, perseverance, and a growth mindset to continuously learn and acquire new skills.

A product of their rapidly changing environment, the newer dynamic and energetic generation entering the workforce are now working side by side with their counterparts from an earlier generation. It will be essential that the disparate workforces be able to comprehend and connect with each other’s diverse mindsets. The skill required to manage the human brain will be critical. Likewise, in a work setting and even in everyday life, if we stick to our own ways and not be empathetic or try to understand others, we will go nowhere as we would not have learned nor applied the very basic skill of learning others.

I have realized that in the process of becoming the person I am today, I never stopped learning, and I am fascinated because I have yet so much more to learn.

Karki is an HR professional.

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