Future-proofing Talents for the Digital World

By Wawasan Open University

November 2021 ADVERTORIAL
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WOU plans to prepare young learners for the digital work environment.

WITH THE TAGLINE “Think Tomorrow”, Wawasan Open University (WOU) is embarking on an exciting new way of future-proofing talents, with its newly introduced School of Digital Technology (DiGiT).

The double disruptions of Covid-19 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution mounted enormous pressure on big businesses and small- and medium-sized enterprises for digital adoption. In an interview with Dell Technologies on its Digital Transformation Index 2020, it was discovered that 84% of organisations in Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) have fast-tracked digital transformation programmes, while 86% are reinventing their business models.

“Organisations view digital transformation as a critical business driver, but an overwhelming number of them (96% in APJ) continue to face entrenched obstacles to its adoption. What is clear, however, is that digital transformation will be crucial to recovery efforts, and the growth and success of businesses and the nation as a whole,” says Glenn De Padua, Dell’s director of Consumer and Small Business (Sales Operations).

The digital world of today and beyond demands from its talents agility, creativity and innovation; functional hard skills can only guide one so far. Critical thinking and problem-solving solving are particularly important soft skills to have in one’s arsenal.

“Critical thinking is when one can see faults in existing systems and will ask questions, probe, challenge the status quo and do things in a better, faster, more efficient way. A problem-solving mindset complements the critical thinker. We do not need people who come to work every day expecting to do the same thing. Employers seek people who are ready to fix problems; people who seek out problems, find ways to fix and ultimately, solve the problem,” explains De Padua.

WOU understands the urgency in delivering innovative content and has partnered with the Singapore-based digital skills accelerator, Lithan Academy, to roll out two new programmes under DiGiT that are unique in their delivery: Bachelor of Digital Business (Honours) and Bachelor in Software Engineering (Honours) (Application Development).

Courses offered under the Digital Business programme cover the broad range of Digital Business Venture, Website Development, Social Media Marketing, Digital Content Creation, Google Analytics and Business Transformation, Search Engine Optimisation, Business Communication Skills, Digital Sales and Marketing, and Business Analytics.

Meanwhile, those pursuing Software Engineering will immerse themselves in Programming Foundations, User Interface Frameworks, Web Development Foundations, Database Design and Implementation, System Security, Data and Artificial Intelligence Essentials, R Programming, Machine Learning and Deep Learning.

The School of Digital Technology will be housed at Bangunan Wawasan, in the centre of the Creative Digital District at George Town.

Students are frontloaded with job-oriented skills in their first year through the WOU ProCamp, an intensive professional training camp where students will be assigned real-work projects under the mentorship of industry experts. This is delivered via an on-campus learning mode.

From their second to fourth years, students will undergo a paid internship with WOU’s industry partners, working full-time and studying part-time with WOU’s Open Distance Learning to complete their degrees. Upon graduation, these students would have already obtained three years of work experience, placing them ahead of the digital and employment rat race.

Students will also have the opportunity to pitch ideas and start their own businesses from their second year onwards, with access to entrepreneurial, mentoring and investment support from WOU. Collaborative plans are also underway between DiGiT and key organisations and institutions (including Digital Penang, Facebook and Think City) in the Creative Digital District @ George Town, where the School is located along Gat Lebuh China, to maximise benefits and exposure for its students.

DiGiT welcomed its first cohorts for the Digital Business and Software Engineering degree programmes in May and September of this year. Cheah Ee-Lynn, a pioneer student of Software Engineering, has always marvelled at the use of codes in designing and developing computer software, and is happy with the fact that the profession is becoming increasingly in-demand today. “The skills I’m learning are all necessary for the industry; and once I complete my degree, rather than just starting out, I would have gained three years’ worth of experience as a software engineer. This difference will be reflected in the salary I’ll be able to command,” she says.

In the coming years, the DiGiT learning model will be replicated for content curation of WOU’s other programmes. What’s more, under the revamped training arm WOU Academy, prospective students eager to reskill or upskill themselves will soon be able to select courses to match immediate professional and personal needs, instead of undertaking a full-fledged degree. But if they are so inclined, the credits can be accumulated for a more formal qualification later on.

Graduates of WOU will be equipped with the “total package”, i.e. knowledge from accredited degrees with updated and relevant content and industrial integration, who is enthusiastic about life-long learning and continuously pushes for outside-the-box thinking; all desirable qualities sought after by today’s employers.

For more information, contact 019 474 9323 or visit wou.edu.my.

Wawasan Open University