IT’S the digital age and almost every job out there requires employees to have some sort of tech skill listed in their resume.
Roles, whether it is marketing, product development, prototyping or talent management, in the modern economy are ever changing but one constant remains – the need to flex your digital skills regardless of which industry you are in.
To help talents, both fresh and seasoned, gain the necessary skills, Akademi GA has acquired exclusive rights to bring in General Assembly’s (GA) digital skills courses for the benefit of the local workforce and the national digital agenda.
Akademi GA director Rouvin Thiruchelvam said the courses taught at the academy aim to answer the question: What are the skillsets required in the modern economy in the next 10 years and beyond?
Globally, he said, there has been much talk of jobs disappearing.
“What they don’t talk about is the net increase in jobs,” he said, adding that talents with new skill sets are needed to meet this demand. Technology changes at a rapid rate. In a matter of months, something can become obsolete.
To ensure their courses remain relevant to the fluid needs of the digital economy, Thiruchelvam said GA has a Standards Board made up of industry professionals that regularly evaluates the relevance of the course content. These professionals meet every six months, look at the content and decide if the content fits the jobs of tomorrow.
“We have access to this same, up-to-date content here in Malaysia through this academy,” he added.
Akademi GA, continued Thiruchelvam, is divided into two parts.
“We have our B2B business, which is solutions-oriented, and a B2C business which is for the everyday Malaysian who wants to be relevant in the modern economy,” he said.
Pointing to how there is always an intersection between education and economic growth, Akademi GA chairman Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin said the trainers at the academy are themselves industry practitioners who are on the ground and who know what is needed in the real world. Meeting customised needs
Individuals or teams can go through online assessments designed to understand a student’s inherent capabilities, Thiruchelvam explained.
These can be a generic digital skills assessment or a specific competency like identifying digital marketing skill.
Students can join MyGA which provides 15 hours of continuous and contextualised learning; a bootcamp comprising 40 hours of upskilling short courses; and 400 hours of immersive reskilling courses which run for three months.
These are done either remotely online or in-person classes. The assessments in MyGA are meant for employers to identify and benchmark talents at scale and to have a baseline understanding of their capabilities.
From there, the academy can filter and direct students to a course, between the bootcamp and immersive course, that is suitable for them.
The bootcamp is geared towards individuals who want to upskill in their current role or who are simply interested in a topic.
“It is to help those already working – usually corporate people – to upskill themselves.
“Upskilling is about picking up additional skills to enhance an employee’s capability so companies are normally quite happy to send their staff for such programmes.
“Reskilling, on the other hand, is meant for those wanting to make a complete career shift to something new,” Thiruchelvam said, adding that the journey is carefully mapped out based on the individual’s needs or a corporation’s re-training objectives.
For example, a finance personnel can become a data analyst by upskilling himself or herself to fit into a new role.
Tunku Zain said the courses are tailored to meet the needs of different companies and organisations.
Although their students range from ages 20 to 40, Thiruchelvam said the prerequisite to joining the programme is having the right attitude.
“It’s a commitment. The programmes are intensive so we have to make sure that the people we are training are serious about it or they won’t complete the course much less achieve the desired outcome.”
Thiruchelvam, who is himself taking a 10-week product management course to upskill, said the programmes are designed to equip a student with the tools needed to make it in the current job economy which, like it or not, are becoming increasingly digital across all industries.Achieving corporation goals
Thiruchelvam said Akademi GA is working with many industry leaders and corporations that are willing to invest in their transformation exercises to stay ahead of the game.
“For example, we work with the banks to help upskill and reskill their employees.
“It’s an investment these companies are making to address a business problem that they have, usually it has to do with generating revenue or saving cost.”
Through the online assessment, the skills the individual already possesses and his strengths which can be built upon to achieve a company’s digital goals, is identified.
“Not everyone can do software engineering. Likewise, not everyone can be a digital marketer or go into data science.
“We’ll establish the individual or team’s baseline capabilities and see how we can upskill or reskill them to meet the company’s business needs,” he said.
Hiring can be a costly affair and instead of finding new talent, companies may want to look into repurposing their current staff, he added.
“You never know if you have some hidden gems in your company that can be discovered when you reskill them.”
The academy’s courses which include data analytics, digital marketing and product management (see infographic), said Thiruchelvam, ensures that fresh graduates, enter the job market armed not only with a background in their chosen field of study but also with the necessary skills to take that knowledge one step further.
There is a demand from the industry, said Tunku Zain, for graduates who are ready for the job market as these companies do not want to spend six to 12 months training fresh hires for the roles they are filling.
“There is an opportunity for education institutions to use GA’s courses to prepare their students who are about to graduate so that they truly are market-ready.
“These courses offer students a shortcut into the industry.”
Generally, Thiruchelvam said, a company spends about 55% of their marketing budget on digital marketing.
And marketing is a skill that spans all industries, he added.
“The programmes here help the individual get into a job quickly.”
GA’s hiring partners number over 7,000 worldwide and the list includes tech start ups, and movers and shakers like General Electric, Google, Microsoft, and Astro.
“GA invites hiring managers from many of these companies to sit in on the final presentations of their students as a means of matching them up with available jobs.”Getting back into the saddle
As for those who have lost their jobs, especially from businesses having to right-size or close down recently due to Covid-19, Thiruchelvam said skills learnt at the academy can be applied across industries.
When one company had to shut down, chances are their competitors are in the same predicament, he said, adding that this would mean that the chances of someone getting rehired in a similar role within the industry, are slim.
However, possessing the digital skills picked up through GA’s courses, combined with the recognition it carries, opens doors to opportunities outside that person’s previous industry, he continued. “These courses allow people to transform their careers.”
Being a Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) approved course provider means companies and individuals can use the various initiatives and aids offered by the fund to finance these courses.
Thiruchelvam said achieving outcomes is one of the things that sets Akademi GA apart from other training providers out there.
“We want to make sure that whatever learnt is applied,” he said, adding that students are required to do a pre and post-course reflection to determine if they have achieved their return on investment.