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Five fast ways to boost your job prospects

The pace of change in today's workplaces can seem daunting for anyone. That's especially true if you’ve moved abroad for professional or personal reasons and you’re still adjusting to a new working culture.

Five fast ways to boost your job prospects
Photo: Getty Images

But is it really time for millions of us to make way for the robots? Evidence suggests that in fact demand is growing for interpersonal human skills, as well as technological know-how. 

One thing is for sure: whatever aspect of yourself you wish to improve, finding the time is not easy! The Local has teamed up with GetSmarter, which provides online education courses in collaboration with leading universities such as the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), to offer you five ways you can boost your career prospects in 100 hours or less. 

Need a career boost? Find out about the MBA Essentials online certificate course from LSE and GetSmarter

1. Work on your ‘soft skills’

If you fear being left behind by today’s rapidly changing world, you’re not alone. But did you know that experts say essential human skills are becoming more rather than less important in the workplace?

It’s a “common misconception” that you won’t be able to thrive without advanced technological or scientific skills, says the World Economic Forum (WEF). This idea is also supported by a survey of business leaders in Europe and North America carried out by the McKinsey Global Institute to identify the skills that would be most in-demand by 2030. 

It found the need for social and emotional skills will increase during the 2020s, alongside demand for technological expertise.  

Defining and measuring ‘soft skills’ is less than straightforward. But creativity tops a recent LinkedIn list of the soft skills companies most need, followed by persuasion and collaboration. So, if 2020 has sapped your spirit, spend some time indulging your creative side!

2. Show some empathy and EQ!

A new entry in the LinkedIn list this year was ‘emotional intelligence’. This quality includes self-awareness, social skills, empathy and motivation. If you’re sceptical, be aware that some employers ask job applicants probing questions designed to measure your EQ (emotional quotient).

You can sharpen your EQ by embracing criticism as a learning opportunity and exploring the ‘why’ in every situation, says LinkedIn.

Never heard of ‘digital body language’? Amid the rise in remote working due to Covid-19, experts also advise that striking the right tone of voice in emails and texts is more important than ever. If you live abroad, you’re probably already wary of potential misunderstandings but thinking in terms of emotional intelligence as well as language may be wise.

Photo: Getty Images

3. Get proactive about lifelong learning

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea that 10,000 hours of practice is the key to achieving greatness. But that’s three hours per day for a decade! 

You may already have missed your chance to make a living as a chess grandmaster or a virtuoso on the violin. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t be serious about lifelong learning.

Want to be a lifelong learner? Take your first step with MBA Essentials from LSE and GetSmarter 

The WEF has called for a “global reskilling revolution”. It says organisations should encourage their workers to keep developing – but that each of us can also “take responsibility for upgrading our skills”. According to the WEF Future of Jobs Report, highly-skilled workers are most likely to be hired, retrained – and receive pay rises.

Of course, dedicating yourself to lifelong learning will require significant amounts of time over the years. But imagine what you could gain if you spent the first 100 hours (that’s one percent of 10,000 hours!) addressing one of your weaknesses … 

4. Don’t give up on digital tech …

Demand for basic tech skills, as well as advanced capabilities, will rise sharply by 2030, according to McKinsey. So while it’s easy to feel the future belongs to coders, AI programmers and blockchain developers, you really can make a good impression without mastering Python or Java! 

As automation advances, people with a sophisticated understanding of digital technology will be very much in the minority. Remember that spending some time continuing to improve your basic digital skills could make all the difference at a job interview or when seeking a promotion.  

5. Just Get Smarter! 

Given the chance to return to studying or do some intensive training, you could no doubt boost your career outlook. But just how do you find the time these days?

Well, one way is to take on a challenge such as the MBA Essentials online certificate course from the world-renowned LSE. In just ten weeks (and around 95 hours of total learning), you’ll develop a better understanding of the complexities of today’s business environment – and gain skills and insights designed to help you lead with confidence.

You’ll get a personalised and flexible learning experience, entirely online – and which you can plan around your existing commitments as you tick off weekly milestones.

Delivered in collaboration with GetSmarter, the course is guided by LSE faculty who teach MBA-focused skills covering strategy, finance, and people. 

Impatient to improve yourself and move forward in the business world even quicker? Check out these online certificate courses also offered by LSE and GetSmarter: Business, International Relations and the Political Economy (80 hours of learning in eight weeks) and Competitive Strategy and Innovation (70 hours in eight weeks).

Learn from a world-leading social science university in your own time: click here to find out more about the MBA Essentials online certificate course.

 

 
For members

EDUCATION

EXPLAINED: How Spain will make it easier for students to graduate

The Spanish government has passed a new decree which will allow secondary and sixth form students to graduate and receive their qualifications, even if they have failed some subjects.

Spain is changing its education rules
There will also be no re-sitting of exams at Spanish secondary schools. Photo: CESAR MANSO / AFP

The Spanish government approved on Tuesday, November 16th a new Royal Decree which gives instructions to teachers to change the way they grade their students for the rest of the school year of 2021/2022 and 2022/2023.

Education in Spain is compulsory for all those from ages 6 to 16. The Spanish education system is made up of primary and secondary schools. Secondary school is referred to as ESO and students receive a Título de Graduado Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (Title of Graduation from Obligatory Secondary School Education). This is the last four years of compulsory education, up until age 16, and is similar to GCSEs in the UK.

After age 16, Spanish students can go on to study for the optional Bachillerato for the next two years up until age 18. This is equivalent to A-levels in the UK and is needed if the student wants to attend university. 

The new rules apply to the ESO and Bachillerato qualifications. In primary education, there were no specific qualifications or failure limits and this is the same in the new decree too. 

What is changing?

  • Before, students studying for the ESO were allowed to pass each year only if they did not have more than three failed subjects, but now with the new decree, there is no limit.
  • There will also be no re-sitting of exams in ESO.
  • In order to graduate with the ESO qualification at age 16, students could still graduate even if they had up to two failed subjects, however now there is no limit in the number of failed subjects allowed to graduate. 
  • In order to pass each year of the Bachillerato, students could still move on if they had up to two failed subjects. This will stay the same in the new decree too. 
  • In order to graduate with the Bachillerato qualification before, students had to pass all subjects and exams, but now one failed subject is allowed. 
  • Students will also be able to sit the Selectividad, which are the Spanish university admission tests if they have failed some of their Bachillerato (sixth form) school subjects.
  • For the first time in history, students with special needs who have had significant curricular adaptations and have not studied the minimum requirement for other students will also be able to receive their high school qualifications.

READ ALSO: Why Spain is failing in maths and science teaching

How will it be decided if students can graduate?

The text presented to the Council of Ministers by Pilar Alegría, the Spanish Minister of Education states that the decision on whether or not a student passes secondary education will be decided on by each board of the school or institution at the end of the school year.

It is the teaching team “who is given the ultimate responsibility for the decision on the promotion and qualification of students” she stated. It will be the teachers who have to make the decision after assessing whether the student “has reached the appropriate degree of acquisition of the corresponding skills”. 

This means that there will no longer be specific requirements to graduate high school and that the parameters for passing will be different for each institution.   

Why have the rules changed?

The new measures are designed to avoid students repeating years and improve graduation statistics.

According to the latest statistics, out of the countries in the EU in 2020, 79 percent of the population between 25 and 64 years old had graduated Secondary Education or higher and Spain is around 16.1 points below this average. 

Pilar Alegría said that 30 percent of 15-year-old students have repeated a year at least once and “dropout rates are increased by this percentage of students”. 

That is why we are committed to a system “based on trust in teachers”, “continuous evaluation” and “collaborative work by teaching teams”. She has assured that “the culture of effort does not run any risk with this new norm. An effort based on motivation is better than one based on punishment”.  

READ ALSO: Spain passes contested education bill

Are all regions on board with the new rules?

Madrid, Andalusia, Galicia, Castilla y León and Murcia strongly oppose the new rules because they “lower the requirement” and “unsettle the teachers”. 

The five regions complain that the royal decree changes the rules of the game in the middle of the course since the students have started the academic year with a particular curriculum and specific criteria in order to pass it. 

Madrid 

“Within our powers, while respecting the law, we are going to try to prevent the royal decree from being applied, as we consider that it is a direct attack on one of the pillars of the Madrid educational system, as is the merit and the effort of the students “, said sources from the Department of Education of the Community of Madrid.

Galicia

The education authorities in Galicia said that they will also “explore any legal possibility that allows for preserving the culture of effort and quality as signs of identity”.

Castilla y León

The education departments in Castilla y León said that for their part, they “will make sure that the curricular development and the norms of promotion and qualification are the least harmful”.

Andalusia 

“Although the norm establishes that the Baccalaureate degree can be obtained with a failed subject, we understand that it does not make sense because all subjects contribute to the acquisition of the necessary competencies,” said the education authorities in Andalusia.

Murcia 

Murcia is also not in favor of the royal decree and denounces “the improvisation of the Pedro Sánchez government and the lack of legal security for the decisions that have been taken”.   

Unions and Associations

Teachers’ unions such as Csif or Anpe or associations such as Concapa or Cofapa warn that more students are going to arrive less prepared for the next level of education, where the problem will explode. 

These regions argue that this new system will leave a lot of grey areas because teachers’ criteria can be very subjective. The elimination of make-up exams is also causing confusion because “they give another opportunity for students to pass based on their effort and ability”. 

The rest of the regions, on the other hand, were in favor of eliminating the need to re-sit exams because they believe that the evaluation should be “continuous” and the student should not risk everything for a single exam.

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