Future proofing your employability

“What would you guess is the most common job?” Michael Lai, Outreach Lead at KGI, asked an audience of students at his Columbia Heights TEDTalk back in 2016. His audience members offer a few suggestions. “Engineer?” “Fast food workers?”  After several failed attempts, Michael puts them out of their misery,

“3.5 billion truck drivers in the United’s States” he tells them. “Experts predict that in the next 12-15 years, most of the cars on America’s highways will be self-driving… so what’s going to happen to the most common job?”

The future of the job market – and it’s inherent uncertainty – has been receiving a lot of attention in the international press in recent years, with Universities UK analysis predicting “65% of children entering primary schools today will work in jobs and functions that don’t currently exist.”  In previous generations, new graduates could expect to work with the same company for several years, steadily climbing the corporate ladder in a predictable, but reassuring linear way. In the 21st century however, the face of the job market is changing, and once you graduate, you may find yourself looking at a “portfolio career” over traditional career progression – something Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg described as more akin to a career “jungle gym” than a career ladder.

But what does all this talk of truck-driving and emergent markets mean for you, the UK Graduate? Well, if the gig economy becomes the norm in the next 10 years, one of the key challenges for new graduates will be the perpetual need to upskill yourself, and market your own skill base to different employers. This puts the spotlight on what have traditionally been referred to as “soft” transferable skills that are required across many different roles and sectors – skills such as resilience, team-working and critical thinking. Here at the Library, we’d argue that information and digital literacy falls under this bracket (well of course we would, we’re librarians!). The ability to find and use information and make considered use of digital tools is an important capability in any graduate job. Don’t just take our word for it – we spoke to several students returning from placement who told us their information skills had helped them get ahead.

The good news though is that your degree programme offers you the chance to work on and demonstrate all of these skills. Employers will know that you may not have extensive work experience as a new graduate, but make sure you cherry-pick prime examples from your University work, part –time jobs and any voluntary experience to exemplify the skills employers are looking for (and remember, the Careers service can help you with interview preparation.) Make the most of the workshops and sessions open to during your time at University so you are in a great position to articulate these important skills. For more information on how the Library can help, check out our Employability Guide

References

  1. TEDx Talks (2016) Four Key Skills to Lead the Future. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djHTcES2ATg
  2. Universities UK (2018) Solving future skills challenges. 6th August 2018. Available at: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2018/solving-future-skills-challenges.pdf
  3. Sandberg, S as quoted by Lebowitz, S and Campbell, D (2019) “Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon shares his number one piece of advice for millennials who want to get ahead in their careers.” Business insider, Jan 13th 2019. Available at:  https://www.businessinsider.com/career-advice-millennials-goldman-sachs-ceo-david-solomon-2019-1?r=US&IR=T

The consequences of Fake News

A scan of some of our “Fake or Fact?” stories this week might raise a few smiles, but as we’ve seen increasingly over the past couple of years, Fake News can have far-reaching consequences.
Hands up, who’s had the awkwardness of friends or family members reposting dubious material on Facebook? If so, you’re not alone. Apparently, according to a MIT study published this year, based on three years’ worth of Twitter meta-analysis, fake news travels up to six times faster than genuine stories. False stories were up to 70% more likely to receive a retweet – often due the novelty or shock factor.

In the sphere of politics, this can have worrying consequences. The U.S. election in late 2016 coined the term for us and is a particularly rich source of Fake news and political spin. Business Insider lists some of the most influential fake news stories to surface during this time; from false claims that WikiLeaks had proof of Clinton arms deals with ISIS, to a fictional Papal endorsement of Trump, said to have received nearly a million hits on Facebook. Only this month, the Jakarta Post reported on concerns of Fake News polluting the build-up to the Indonesian Presidential Elections next year as Facebook groups flood the country’s web spaces with doctored videos; something that has previous lead to protests in the streets of the capital.

And even when we know we might be dealing with dubious information, Fake News can continue to wield influence. Newcastle University’s own Dr. Gavin Stewart, a meta-analysis expert explains “claims with no scientific proof cast doubt over those with overwhelming evidence, leaving us at the best confused and in the worst case making totally the wrong decision.”

A strong example can be found in the now discredited research of Andrew Wakefield. Back in 1998, Wakefield drew unsubstantiated links between the MMR vaccination and childhood autism. Despite the widespread exposure of the fraudulent claims and rebuttals from the medical community, vaccination rates of the MMR vaccine dropped, and last year saw a 400% increase of measles cases across Europe.

So what does this mean for you as a current student?
The National Literacy Trust has been conducting research into pupils’ critical skills, and worryingly, has found that 35% of teachers in the UK taught pupils citing fake news and satire as legitimate sources. A fifth of pupils between 8 and 15 believe that everything found online is trustworthy and true. The antidote to this is building on one of your core graduate attributes and competencies – critical thinking. Always check out stories you’ve found online before using them in your work. Who have they come from, how partisan is that group or author? Is the material satire? What does the author stand to gain? Employers in all industries are looking for graduate with sharp reasoning skills and sound judgement. As students producing work in the current “post-truth” climate, your job is a little tougher, but you can turn this to your advantage by proving you have the skills and the smarts to outwit the Fake News racketeers.

Read our other blogs on Fake News to learn about the history and growth of Fake News and how you can become a Fake News Ninja.

References
1. Vosoughi, Roy and Aral, (2018). “The spread of true and false news online.” Science, 359: 6380, pp. 1146-1151.
2. Roberts (2016) “This is what fake news actually looks like — we ranked 11 election stories that went viral on Facebook.” Business Insider UK. November 17th
http://uk.businessinsider.com/fake-presidential-election-news-viral-facebook-trump-clinton-2016-11/#5-hillary-clinton-sold-weapons-to-isis-and-it-was-confirmed-by-wikileaks-7)
3. Pearl (2018). “Indonesia battels fake news as elections looms” Jakarta Post. 15th March http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/15/indonesia-battles-fake-news-as-elections-loom.html
4. Newcastle university (2018) “Filtering out Fake News” 7th March. http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2018/03/fakenews/
5. Houston, (2018) “Measles back with a vengeance due to fake health news” The Irish Times. Feb 23rd. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/measles-back-with-a-vengeance-due-to-fake-health-news-1.3401960
6. National Literacy Trust (2018). “Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy Skills in Schools” https://literacytrust.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/all-party-parliamentary-group-literacy/fakenews/