21st century demands new criteria for job readiness, advancement –MD, PMI

By Johnson Adebowale

The ongoing digital revolution underscores the importance of adapting learning programmes to meet the changing demands of today’s marketplace, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI). The institute emphasizes that a career-long learning mindset is essential for Generation Z and Generation Alpha, as professional roles evolve rapidly and new industries emerge from technological advancements. This means that learning must extend beyond early life.

Generation Z and Generation Alpha, born roughly between 1997 and 2012 and from 2010 onward, respectively, are distinct in being shaped by the technological, societal, and global contexts of their upbringing. George Asamani, managing director, sub-Saharan Africa, at PMI, explains that the trajectory of professional qualifications is evolving rapidly. While a single degree might have sufficed for career entry and progression in the past, the 21st century demands new criteria for job readiness and advancement.

Armani said: “Traditional degrees are still valuable and will continue to be so in the future, but a range of specialized certifications and micro-credentials will likely supplement them. These credentials prove an individual’s ongoing commitment to learning and mastery in specific skill areas. Resumes will not just list degrees and work experience but become dynamic portfolios of certifications demonstrating competency and expertise.”

This shift towards certification-rich resumes reflects a broader trend where employers value diverse skills and adaptability. Educational institutions are recognizing these shifts and focusing on training students for these certifications. In a groundbreaking move, the University of Johannesburg recently became an authorized training partner for the PMI-CP certification and will soon start training individuals.

Asamani highlighted that the educational and professional landscapes are aligning more closely with the needs of a rapidly changing marketplace. For Gen Z and Gen Alpha, building a career will mean accumulating diverse skills, demonstrating a commitment to career-long learning, and adapting to new challenges.

“This shift in how skills are earned marks a fundamental change in preparing for the future of work. Educational institutions and employers can provide support for professional development through memberships in professional associations, ensuring they stay current, access mentors, and network,” he said.

Gen Z and Gen Alpha, although disconnected from the physical umbilical cord, are tethered to the digital world through constant Internet connectivity. This connectivity links them to a vast reservoir of information crucial for their personal and intellectual development. As digital natives, these generations navigate digital platforms, seek information swiftly, and adapt to technological advancements, shaping their interactions, learning styles and problem-solving approaches.

The 20th-century educational system, shaped by the Industrial Age, focused on conformity, standardization and rote learning. This method was effective for its time, preparing students for stable, well-defined jobs. However, as the digital revolution took hold, the limitations of this education system became apparent, with graduates often unprepared for a rapidly evolving job market.

In contrast, 21st-century skills encompass critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, agility, adaptability, communication skills, an analytical mindset, and curiosity. These skills are crucial in a globalized, information-enabled, and increasingly AI-driven society.

The Project Management Institute’s call to adapt learning programmes reflects the necessity of aligning education with the dynamic needs of today and tomorrow’s job markets, ensuring that the upcoming workforce is well equipped to thrive in an ever-changing environment.

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