I HAD the honor of addressing this year’s graduates of the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City during its 65th Graduation Rites on May 29, 2022. Let me share today some excerpts of my speech during the occasion.
You are now holding in your hands – a virtual passport. Yes, a virtual passport that could take you to almost anywhere in the world. To me, that is what education is, it gives us hope. It allows us to dream. That's what I firmly believed as a child, that I will achieve my dream, despite all difficulties I struggled with to finish my studies.
At nine years old, I lost the best teacher I had – my mother. My 40-year-old widower of a father had to raise five small children – with me being the eldest. I was counting the years, the months until I reach 18 so I can apply for a job. My first job when I was just in third year college - was as a reporter for a local television and I was so proud even when the show was only 15 minutes long. My journey to this stage today has not been very easy – but it has been really rewarding. I sincerely thank the University of Saint La Salle for this opportunity. For this once in a lifetime chance, to go back. And experienced this feeling again 25 years ago.
So many things have changed. But the big question is -- how do we thrive amidst these changes? As you step out of this school today – you are already equipped with the knowledge that this institution has imparted to you based on your respective fields of discipline. And so therefore, what I wish to highlight today are the needed skills – skills which you will not learn overnight – not immediately mastered but will take time to develop.
A 2021 research by McKinsey summarized the skills citizens will need in the future of work. The research, which involved over 18,000 people from different countries - identified 56 foundational skills called Deltas – short for distinct elements of talent -- a combination of knowledge, skills, and attitude - that will help citizens thrive in the future of work.
These Deltas are divided into four categories - cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, self-leadership, and digital skills. Cognitive skills include critical thinking, problem solving, logical reasoning, understanding biases and seeking relevant information. It also involves planning and ways of working, time management, and prioritization, agile thinking, and ability to learn.
You also need communication skills. Among the powerful forms are storytelling, and public speaking, asking the right questions, synthesizing messages, and active listening. You need to have mental flexibility, creativity, and imagination, translating knowledge to different contexts, and adapting different perspectives.
Interpersonal or people skills involve mobilizing systems, ability to secure win-win negotiations, crafting and inspiring vision, and organizational awareness, developing relationships, empathy, inspiring trust, humility and sociability, teamwork, fostering inclusiveness, motivating different personalities, resolving conflicts, and collaboration.
To echo the McKinsey 2022 collaboration challenge – Collaboration is no longer just a buzzword. It is a personal and professional skill.
Self-leadership is about self-awareness and self-management and entrepreneurship as well as goals achievement – which means understanding your own emotional triggers, self-control, understanding your own strengths, showing integrity, self-motivation, and self-confidence.
Among the 56 skills is also entrepreneurship – which means courage and risk taking, driving change and innovation, energy, passion, and optimism. You also need a goals achievement mindset, decisiveness, grit, and persistence, coping with uncertainty, and self-development.
Digital skills include digital fluency and citizenship, digital literacy, digital learning, digital collaboration, and digital ethics, understanding digital systems, which involves data literacy, smart systems, cybersecurity literacy, software use, data analysis, and algorithmic thinking.
Futurist Gerd Leonard says any skill that cannot be digitized or automated will become extremely valuable. Human only traits such as creativity and imagination. Intuition, emotion, and ethics will even be more important in the future. The new way to work is to embrace technology but not to become it. The future is in technology, yet the bigger future lies in transcending it.
What is important is to adopt a mindset of life-long learning – the very essence of education - the ability to learn, and the capacity to re-learn the things that are important, to re-skill, to upskill, and to unlearn to learn new ways. By continuing to learn, we generate more public value.
If Taylor Swift told the graduates of New York to Keep on dancing. I say – Keep on learning – it’s more fun and rewarding!
June 10, 2022
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