Curbing the Skill Obsolescence among Youngsters
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. President once said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” Indeed, young people will continue the struggle to build the nation’s civilisation after we are long gone. As such, both the youth and the nation’s future cannot be separated from one another.
Being enthusiastic and daring to explore something new are two of the best qualities of the young. Such qualities must be advanced toward the good as well as to develop the nation. On the contrary, rashness and cowardice should be harnessed by knowledge and guidance.
In the current situation, the young are seen to be facing challenges in developing their potentials. The technological advancement that should be a catalyst for the progress of the young is not happening as expected. The gig industry segment, for example, is no longer an easy platform for the young to continue generating their income nor boost their career development. The same goes for other creative income generating trends through the social media, digital platform and others.
Among the challenges for young people to stay relevant in the industry are tight competition, lack of benefits, lack of guarantee on worker’s safety and welfare, as well as the rapid transition to the new trends in the digital world. Changes and shifts to the new trends have made the young suffer an obsolescence of skills without them realising it.
The obsolescence of skills occurs when an individual no longer has the knowledge nor the abilities required to perform tasks well. The situation may arise when the person fails to adapt to new technology, new procedures or other changes required.
Therefore, the obsolescence of skills does not only happen to ageing workers, but also to the young who are just starting out for jobs, or who have been working for some time yet are diminishing in their skills. In other words, the higher the environment changes, the higher the worker becomes obsolete.
Temporary trends and hypes on the new lifestyle challenges the young who find themselves irrelevant with the current changes. The situation becomes more critical when they find themselves without the necessary qualifications to work in other industries. Previously, academic qualifications may not have been a priority due to the free entry and exit factor in the industry. Yet, when this happens, young people find themselves experiencing the obsolescence of skills needed to work in other industry segments.
The fact that everyone must accept is that there is nothing more important than having a strong and solid foundation of knowledge and skills. The journey to such an endeavour is highly challenging yet meaningful. Allah SAW says in the Quran, “Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees.” (Al-Mujādilah, 58: 11).
Khairul Aming, the influencer who was crowned the Creator of the Year recently, says that it is very important for young people to finish their studies. Problem solving skills and having good manners are an added value as an individual and an employee. Mastery of knowledge and skills as well as having the necessary competencies definitely help the young to get and keep their jobs. In addition, they have a higher chance in terms of career development and options to secure other jobs.
From the Islamic perspective, youths are those who are guided by the elders especially parents. The story of Luqman al-Hakim in the Qur’an indicates the role of parents and the elders in guiding children to the right path.
Character building and self-development of the young are not only derived from the physical and intellectual discourses. Both developments must also include the spiritual aspect so as to strengthen faith in oneself. In a hadith by the Prophet PBUH narrated by Jundub bin ‘Abdullah: “We were with the Prophet (PBUH), and we were strong youths, so we learned faith before we learned the Qur’an. Then, we learned the Qur’an and our faith increased thereby.” (Sunan Ibn Majah).
Indeed, the young are loved by both Allah SWT and Rasulullah PBUH. Allah promises His shade (protection) on the Day of Judgment to seven groups of which youths who grew up with the worship of Allah as being one of them (Bukhari and Muslim).
In the Mid-Term Review of the 12th Malaysia Plan, one of the emphasis is on talent by improving the quality of education and training, the use of technology and promoting higher compensation of employees. Towards this end, we must focus on the gap between jobs, industry requirements with the capabilities of young talents—adequate skills and knowledge to perform jobs efficiently and effectively across various fields.
If we choose to ignore such an approach, there is likely for Malaysia to keep importing talents from abroad to meet the nation’s needs. Should this happen, the plan to promote higher compensation of employees among the local talents will become very difficult to carry out when there is an oversupply of talents only in several fields, but the cost of importing talents abroad increases. In this regard, the famous African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” cannot be more true. Youngsters are indeed invaluable, meaningful and special to the religion, race and nation more than what they or we realise. Addressing the young in accordance to their age, maturity and current challenges that they face is vital to curb the obsolescence of skill among them. Indeed, all of us share the responsibility to guide the youth in shaping their bright future for our nation.