Navigating the Changing World of Work: Advice for Graduates in the Age of Chatbots
By Abdullah Al-Mansoori – Director of Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC)
Thousands of our youth are graduating these days from various universities across the country. Armed with knowledge and determination to achieve their dreams, they carry with them their hopes and aspirations to the job market, to leave their mark on the country’s development journey. As graduation caps are tossed into the air in celebration, expectations, and dreams of a brighter future soar even higher.
However, amidst the joy surrounding graduates and their families on this occasion, their minds must be occupied with angst about what is to come and what they will do from this point forward. As experts in career guidance and development, we present through this article a necessary piece of advice to guide our young graduates through this complex transition and acquaint them with the basics of the work life that awaits them. Graduation is an end to an important phase in their lives, but every ending is always a new beginning.
These young people are graduating at a critical stage globally, where efforts are still underway to overcome the devastating repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic that caused significant changes in the dynamics of the job market at a faster pace than expected. This will most likely exacerbate their confusion and further complicate the transitions they are undergoing.
Initially, the enthusiasm of graduates may mislead them into thinking that obtaining a rewarding job aligned with their aspirations will be easy and straightforward once they receive their graduation certificates. However, practical experience has taught us that the job search phase is one of the most important stages in the life of any graduate, let alone the graduates of the 2023 class who are entering the job market during a period that can be described as both a blessing and a curse; It is a curse in terms of the expected disruptions the global economy will witness in the next five years, particularly with the decline of leading economies worldwide and the rapidly increasing adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence. These expectations are clearly indicated in the World Economic Forum’s report published earlier this year. The forum also predicted that the global job market would experience a net loss of 14 million jobs by 2027, equivalent to 2% of the current total workforce. At the same time, it is a blessing because Qatar has positioned itself as a leading country in terms of economic growth and stability, demonstrating immense resilience and quick recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic according to Price-Waterhouse-Coopers International.
Additionally, the World Bank Group expects Qatar to have the fastest economic growth among Gulf Cooperation Council countries in 2023 and 2024, with growth rates of 4.5% and 4.4% respectively. Therefore, the challenge graduates face lies not in creating job opportunities for them, but in developing the proper approach through which our young men and women can access the job market and take their first steps in it. Opportunity in Qatar is abundant, and the economic environment is highly fertile.
This is where qualified career advisors and counselors play a decisive role in providing career guidance and development services, helping graduates plan their career paths and adapt to any challenges or changes that may arise during this process. Sound career guidance and development can assist young people in aligning their skills, interests, values, and abilities with available career tracks and jobs. It helps them understand and respond to the growing and evolving needs of the labor market and the sustainable development process in Qatar. It also helps them clearly state their career goals and develop effective strategies to achieve them. Career development provides graduates with access to the labor market, allowing them to communicate with experienced professionals in their field of interest to learn more about their work and to test its compatibility with their aspirations.
Therefore, we present hereafter three fundamental concepts that new graduates must understand and focus on:
The first, and perhaps the most important, is proper career planning. Career planning entails the individual’s continuous efforts to draw their career path while taking into account the place they see themselves reaching in their work, in terms of their preference for specific sectors or industries. It is a long and ongoing process that involves identifying your professional goals and objectives, and then finding the most suitable path to achieve them. To ensure that the graduate is correctly and efficiently following the right path, they must monitor their progress, evaluate its outcomes, conduct sufficient research about their career options, required qualifications education, and then finally make reasonable and informed decisions. They should also consider personal values, personality traits, skills, aptitudes, and desires during this process, to understand what motivates them and avoid the exhaustion and frustration that result from working in a field that does not suit them. Proper planning also requires conducting comprehensive research on the economic sectors and job fields available in the country, future labor market trends, and emerging careers.
For example, if the graduate is interested in a STEM career, proper career planning may involve researching internships or workshops related to STEM even before graduating. This allows them to test their compatibility with these occupations and assess how well they align with their personal aspirations and values. They should then conduct research on the various careers within the STEM field, such as different engineering disciplines, computer science and engineering, data analysis, and more. This will help them understand the qualifications required for each career and identify which ones are within their reach and align with their interests. Finally, the career decision-making process concludes with choosing a university major, for instance, where they can learn the fundamentals necessary to practice the discipline they choose, and continually track their progress in this field to correct the course if necessary.
The second point is about continuous investment in self-development. Knowledge doesn’t stop at a university degree. Continuous education and lifelong learning play a key role in developing new skills and maintaining the required level of competence that helps in adapting to the dynamic and fast-paced needs of any career in today’s world. Additionally, it helps in obtaining better job opportunities and climbing up the career ladder. The technological acceleration witnessed in the work environment today is proof of the importance of lifelong learning, as today’s jobs constantly require more specialized and precise skills, such as innovation, creativity, the use of advanced technology, emotional intelligence, analytical and critical thinking, and many others.
Therefore, I advise new graduates to take advantage of the abundant and diverse sources of open learning. Gaining experiences outside the academic scope is essential, and it will teach them many skills that cannot be acquired from books and traditional educational curricula. This can be done through programs offering micro-credentials or online courses. Additionally, participating in activities and events provided by various educational, cultural, and training institutions can help gain experiences and develop skills. This includes the activities organized by Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC), specifically designed to enhance the professional and personal skills and capabilities of young individuals.
It is worth mentioning that patience and perseverance are also essential qualities that a graduate should possess even after finding the desired job. Good things take time and progressing step by step without rushing into promotions will allow the graduate to fully absorb knowledge and experiences offered at each job level. These are the qualifications they need to acquire to be truly eligible for career advancement.
Thirdly, mastering the skill of job interviews is crucial in order to showcase their personal advantages and demonstrate their capabilities to fill the desired position. This skill is particularly important as they enter a more competitive job market than ever before, especially with the widespread use of technology and the growing need for a highly capable professional workforce. One factor that leads to wasting resources and time for employers is the continuous turnover in specialized teams, followed by the need to train and prepare new hires, which requires significant time and effort. Therefore, the ability of graduates to present themselves and their skills in a way that aligns with employers’ needs plays a crucial role in whether or not they secure the job they seek.
Despite our warning about the impact of some jobs being affected by the application of artificial intelligence technologies, specifically low-skilled jobs, AI can also create new job opportunities in sectors such as programming, data analysis, robotics, design, and development. This, in turn, supplements the Qatari job market with a range of innovative professionals ready to continue sustainable development in the country by using the latest capabilities of the digital world. Moreover, AI and similar technologies of the future can be leveraged to develop many industries in the country, such as oil and gas, retail, financial services, and logistics. In short, this can lead to improving work efficiency, performance, and economic growth in ways that traditional growth cannot compete with.
In other words, the ability of these technologies to positively contribute to our national economy and enhance the local labor market is entirely dependent on the availability of appropriate training and qualification for current and future workforces, to ensure they can adapt and benefit from new job opportunities that may arise.
QCDC, as Qatar’s leading career guidance and development service provider, offers a host of programs and initiatives designed to reinforce the aforementioned advice and assist graduates in implementing them. For example, QCDC has published the Majors Guide, Qatar’s first of its kind and most comprehensive reference for all university majors offered in the state, their admission requirements, and universities contact information. Additionally, it contains dedicated sections that provide guidance and advice about each academic major. Furthermore, as part of our efforts to anticipate what future job will look like, QCDC hosted an online panel discussion at the on “Future Jobs 2040,” which included several experts who discussed the professions we will need in the future, such as artificial intelligence experts, robotics, unmanned aerial vehicle operation, big data, and cybersecurity. Such seminars and discussions will give parents, career counselors, and other career guidance and development stakeholders a clearer picture of the future job market and its needs, so they can prepare and guide the youth in a way that suits these needs and ensures they enjoy successful and sustainable careers.
At QCDC, we also bring young individuals together with experts through virtual career advising sessions. Students share in these sessions their concerns, questions, and inquiries, with our career development experts who in turn provide them with all the information they need, whether it is about the labor market, discovering their personal skills and interests, and more. We also offer many other events and programs, such as ‘Career Village,’ which brings together representatives from more than 14 sectors in the country. We are also keen to host figures working in various fields, especially in non-traditional sectors, such as the medical or aviation sectors, to share their experiences with young people and clarify any misconceptions they may have about a particular career.
Today, my advice to graduates in the era of “Chat GPT” is not to rush or get frustrated and discouraged, but also not to become complacent and surrender to the ever-changing world. Every change holds both positive and negative aspects. Be vigilant, organized, and creative, and present yourself and your skills properly to achieve your goals. Always remember that your career decisions, as well as your academic choices, will shape not just your future, but ours too. Be worthy of our hopes and never stop seeking knowledge, advice, and help, as we will always be there with you and for you.