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Soft skills to help you plug into Digital Era

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Hazan Illyasak said that young people should obtain soft skills. Supplied

SOME of us may already know about the 4Cs – critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration – the four pillars to develop soft skills inside you, which are crucial to match the higher standards of the collaborative working culture. As globalization demands that you work with others from different working cultures and time zones through common digital platforms, the 4Cs is a significant set of intra-personal and inter-personal skills that help you connect and cooperate with others in the team, in addition to whatever technical skills you have previously acquired from school, college or university.

Speaking to a captive audience during BarCamp ASEAN 2019 at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, Mr. Hazan Illyasak, a Senior CSR and Sustainability Specialist at Smart Axiata, explained the 4Cs (as follows):

Critical thinking: It is how you use your critical mind to think, judge and evaluate a problem. For instance, when you read or scroll through news on Facebook, what are the tools you utilize to validate its authenticity? How do you know if it is fact or fiction? This skill will come in handy when you start a career. It is vital to be aware of what is happening in your surrounding through credible sources of information, so it can lead you to make a sound and reasonable decision.

Creativity: It revolves around your mind and how you use it to answer a problem with a creative solution. Such a skill is highly valued in business environment which has a rapid-changing nature. For instance, if a company wants to launch a product targeted at younger customers, it would know that the target audience prefer something quick and snappy. Therefore, you need to put your ‘creativity hat’ on to find a solution that provides a win-win situation for both clients and your own company.

Communication: Communication is a way to convey the right message to a particular audience through speech, action and overall mannerism. It is one of the most beneficial skills to master. Interpersonal skill, especially, is crucial to size up what topic you are going to talk about and how to talk about it effectively with the audience that you are presented with.

Collaboration: Strong collaborative skills will allow you to effectively work with people from different backgrounds and technical skills. This is the skill that makes you an excellent team player – a trait that is desirable by potential employers. Collaboration skills includes the ability to identify and utilize your own and your team members’ strength while working hand-in-hand to improve each other’s weaknesses.

How to build 4Cs in you? Valuable tips from Mr Yasak to build and develop your 4Cs are:

Travelling: Travelling more to different places will widen your horizons. When you travel, you will meet a lot of creative people, experience different things from what you are used to seeing. It helps us to think further, think universally, and develop a more analytical mind.

Extra-training: The skills you learn at college or university will not suffice. Therefore, you must attend public events to listen to others and how they approach different topics such as technology, ICT, digital world and more. You may not notice or be aware of the skills that you have earned but it will ‘kick in’ to help you solve problems that pops up in your employment.

Exchange programmes: Not only that, Mr Yasak also encourages young people to get into exchange programmes to go abroad. “When you visit another country, you will learn more on how foreign students think,” he said.

Volunteerism: “Volunteering helps improve your soft skills a lot. For instance, when you manage a project, you have to communicate with many different stakeholders including volunteers, sponsoring companies, speakers – etc…. It is the same with professional work.” said Mr Yasak. He explained that volunteer works expose an individual to many kinds of personalities. From his experiences, most of those who have done volunteer works tend to be more patient, considerate and communicable.

Why 4Cs is important for Cambodian youth?

Mr Yasak told Youth Today that 4Cs is important for everyone across the globe as we need to communicate with people from different ethics, work culture or backgrounds in order to form professional partnerships.

Mr Yasak lamented, however, that 4Cs is still lacking in many Cambodian youths, even in this digital era.

“When Cambodia opens up its market to the global community, automatically, foreign investors will come to invest in Cambodia. Hence, they will come with foreign employees too. That’s why, everyone needs 4Cs to meet the standards of working with a foreign company and to take advantage of lessons learnt from your earlier career,” said Mr Illyasak.

He added that those who lack 4Cs will find it difficult to earn promotion to higher levels, especially into management positions.

From his experience of working with many young people, Mr Yasak personally pointed out that Cambodian youths usually feel inferior in the workplace alongside their more advanced peers, seniors and foreigners.

He said it is a known fact that Cambodia is a developing country where the job market is open to people from other countries to seek opportunities. Globalization has led to the in-flow of foreign employees from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and more, which are also more developed countries.

Due to this, the inner psyche of Cambodian youths becomes vulnerable and they cannot help but occasionally ‘feel small’ compared to their more illustrious counterparts.

Mr Yasak emphasized that: “In the world, through media, reports and so on Cambodia education system has always been described as a ‘very poor’ one. And this factor has dragged the self-confidence of Cambodian youths to a much lower point”.

He added that sometimes Cambodian youths fear that their ideas will pale in comparison to their peers and will eventually get rejected.

Fortunately, the exception applies to Cambodian youths with a lot of travelling experience – be it locally or abroad – and some students who have been studying in foreign countries. He said this well-travelled group exudes confidence when it comes to expressing their ideas in most circumstances.

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