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New Digital Era: Academic versus Competency-based Higher Education

Published by Afterschool.my on Feb 04, 2021, 11:07 am

“At least 40% of businesses will die in the next 10 years if they don't figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies'', said John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems at the Boxworks 2015 conference. His statement cements the reality that WE ARE ALREADY in the midst of the digital era RIGHT NOW.

Cyber security is an emerging technological trend in IR4.0

Artificial IntelligenceIoT, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security and Data Analytics are just some of the many technologies that are considered standard at the modern workplace and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0). These technologies are no longer luxuries to deliver better value to customers but becoming daily necessities of every industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the need for companies to adopt new technologies and has heightened the demand for competent digital talents. The use of cloud services, for example, has never been more critical as more workers work from home. Thus, tech experts including Cloud Engineers and Software Engineers are critical to introducing digital solutions in society today.

The only way companies can survive in the new Digital Era is to have a digitally-savvy talent pool, AND THIS IS WHERE THE OPPORTUNITY LIES.

Malaysia’s unemployment rate is on the rise (having reached 25% in 2020, according to MOHE), but rather surprisingly, digital jobs remain vacant. This illustrates a humongous gap between industry needs and what Malaysian graduates can offer. It can be deciphered that students are ill-equipped to match the current needs of the industry.

The digital field is a treasure chest of opportunities and students must stake their claim right now! Students must ensure they are technically skilled to take advantage of the situation.

Academic Programs vs Competency-based Programs

Academic programs are traditionally the to-go options for students but in this digital era, competency-based programs are also worth considering.

The syllabus for academic programs are knowledge-based, where students gain a deep and thorough understanding of digital concepts. Deep theoretical knowledge is well and good, but there is the possibility where only parts of this knowledge is put to practise, and students may not even know how to apply this knowledge in the real world.

On the other hand, competency-based programs focus on possessing a strong mastery of industry knowledge, skills and abilities. The goal is for graduates to be fully prepared to meet their companies’ needs and expectations immediately upon hire, many of which are seeking for digital talents.

Industry connection

For most academic programs, students can gain industry connections through their internship or practical experience, whereby they must complete at least two to three months for industry exposure. It is only then do students gain first-hand practical experience under the supervision of experienced professionals.

Competency-based programs, meanwhile, are developed and frequently reviewed by education and industry experts. This provides students with strong industry connections while studying, making it a dynamic learning experience. The knowledge, updates and tips passed on from professionals to students during this time are thus current, guaranteeing graduates have hands-on experience to carry the flag as soon as they enter the workforce.

Job opportunities

The demand for digitally competent graduates is at an all-time high, with 9 out of 10 jobs requiring digital skills in the future (World Economic Forum 2020). The reality is that a plethora of repetitive or labour-based jobs are being replaced by machines and more jobs related to digital technology implementation or development are being created which will lead to long term growth for our society.

The digital era means a plethora of jobs for digitally-competent graduates

Graduates of academic programs may find themselves in roles focused on research or in companies with more established and structured digital roles, with plenty to catch-up before being able to be readily-productive at work.

The added advantage for competency-based program graduates is that they can step out in confidence, knowing that they are trained to adapt. Competency-based programs can help maximise the effectiveness of students' learning, improvement, mastery, and potential to become the next generation of leaders.

Top digital competency-based courses that you can explore and where to study

Here are some of the digital courses in high demand that you can explore to nurture your digital competency and its career options:

Digital Business

Everything is transforming in the Digital Era, especially businesses. Digital organisations utilise digital technology to create value for customers and optimise operations. By combining business fundamentals with subjects such as Digital Commerce and Digital Sales and Marketing, you will be an expert in digital business operations, development, and management.

The demand for digital business experts is extremely high. As more companies adapt to the digital era, they are constantly looking to hire more Business Development Professionals, Digital Marketing & Strategist Specialists and Digital Transformation Specialists.

Software Engineering

Software engineering is building digital solutions through software and application management

Software engineering pertains to the design, development, and implementation of software. An essential element to today’s businesses, it is about building digital solutions through software and application management.

As more and more of us rely on smart engineering, the number of software developers and software engineers will only increase, with job outlook predicted to grow by 21 percent over the next 9 years. Some of the most promising career paths for someone with a Software Engineering degree include Software and Applications Developer, Data Analysts and Scientist, and AI and Machine Learning Specialist.

Digital Systems

Digital systems are designed to store, process, and communicate information in digital form. By studying Digital Systems, you will learn in depth of the integration of software, hardware, and networks into a reliable infrastructure. You will also be creating new digital solutions by utilising cloud, enabling automation, and processing big data – a valuable knowledge in the current digital era!

Job prospects with a Digital Systems degree are abundant. Some careers for your consideration are Information Security Analyst, Process Automation Specialist, Database and Network Professional, and Internet of Things Specialist.

When it comes to looking for a program that can provide quality competency-driven education, there’s a few things you might want to consider

Are the programs up to date with relevant and current industry demands? Are programs backed by strong industry connections? And most importantly, do these programs guarantee the right industry exposure?

UTMSPACE Professional Digital Programs fulfils all three factors on the checklist! As the first competency-based digital programs in Malaysia:

  • The programs are thoughtfully designed by both industry and education experts
  • The syllabus focuses on the mastery of highly-work relevant digital competencies
  • The programs are developed to provide students with industry exposure with their unique 1u3i program – an opportunity where students will gain real insights into the digital industry for three years, after a 1-year of intensive class-based learning.

For more information about their programs, click here.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is more adaptable to change – Charles Darwin”


Be the leader of the digital era by equipping yourself with digital competencies

By equipping yourself with digital competencies, not only will you survive the digital era and come out on top, but you will also encounter new and exciting possibilities like never before. What else are you waiting for? CONQUER THE DIGITAL ERA TODAY!

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