transition of aspiration

Insights from Abrar Anwar, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank-Malaysia

Survival of the fittest

Young people aged 15-24 in Bangladesh were already facing a challenging transition into the labor market when COVID-19 happened. The condition aggravated further as the pandemic brought in the demand for a new sret of skills that fresh graduates need currently, in addition to traditional education. Today, the focus of employers has shifted to skills on adaptability, resilience, technology, and remote communication for contributing to organizational growth. In regards to this rising influx of the skills demand, how are these challenges being tackled by Bangldeshi youth? Will the outlook of employers remain the same as before, post-pandemic, or bring in new expectations from young professionals?

To find key answers on these prevailing questions and to train young people with skills relevant to the job market, BYLC has organized a month-long Career Bootcamp from November 21, 2020 to December 19, 2020. The bootcamp features sessions taken by industry experts of the country who have been sharing their experiences and insights on various aspects of professional development with graduating students and young professionals. Through the bootcamp, BYLC is aiming to prepare the participants for the 21st century job market and meet the existing skills gap.

The opening session of the BYLC Career Bootcamp 2020 was inaugurated by Abrar Anwar, Managing Director & CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, Malaysia, and Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone, and moderated by Ejaj Ahmad, Founder & President, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center.

The main highlight of the session revolved around issues of youth employment in South Asia and the added damage that COVID-19 has brought on from this year. Abrar Anwar shared his insights to questions about where the future demand is headed on the skills set of youth in Bangladesh, the significance of soft skills in the workplace, and being passionate about your job.

1. What kind of future skill sets are employers looking for in youth? How is the definition of future resources changing?

The two aspects that youth need to always focus on are soft skills and hard skills; both of them are essential. In today’s job market, being digitally savvy is a huge advantage. Currently, data analysis has huge potential; e-commerce has skyrocketed, artificial intelligence is developing rapidly, and all aspects of cyber-including defense, security and risk are becoming more and more popular. Naturally, all of these aforementioned traits fall under additional skills. At the same time, soft skills have also become very critical. Mental health, resilience, agility, adaptability, and holding a positive attitude have all become significant for the growth of a person and an organization. We are now looking for people who have the winning combination of both hard and soft skills. The foremost concern in every organization with a sustainable approach to its future is focusing on the kind of people they want in that future.

2. What aspects do you focus on when recruiting youth?

A lot of the weight of the recruitment process depends on the candidate’s attitude. We don’t learn everything from scratch by simply studying the theoretical elements of becoming the ‘ideal candidate’. A crucial life lesson to always remember is that a leader is only as good as his or her team; only inclusive leaders can drive the organization forward, otherwise it can be a disaster. The sooner we understand that we are incomplete leaders without our teams, the better it will be for our progressive growth. Inclusive leadership is critical to an organization’s survival and growth, as each individual brings their unique talents to the table.

Additionally, we need people who are well-versed in technology. However, one should never forget that there will always be demand for people for all kinds of jobs within the organization. So, when we recruit, the first and foremost basic skill that we try to note is the depth of discipline in an individual, along with their potential to be collaborative and inclusive. The primary question after preliminary assessment usually is: are they positive about self-learning from seniors, juniors, and peers?

Therefore, never choose to willingly settle. What is important to remember is that our earlier mistakes are now in the past. The bigger question thus remains: how do I improve myself for the better?

Furthermore, maintaining mental and physical fitness is very critical. If an individual is unfit, he or she cannot think properly. It is difficult and unrealistic to always recruit exactly the right person. There can be a disconnect or even some misunderstandings further down the line. However, individuals willing to learn can go much further than those who are reluctant to venture into new territories.

3. What drives youth to switch jobs?

If anyone feels like their current job no longer serves its purpose, he or she should leave that job right away. You have to feel like, “Yes, it is another day. I can feel the passion to do my work today.” The moment one finds their routine mundane and monotonous, they must simply leave that job, as it will become impossible to prosper there. Standard Chartered Bank focuses on organizational values and internal motivation for our employees. Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity. After all, it is the people that make the organization.

4. In what functions do you see automation turning jobs redundant at Standard Chartered?

A lot of jobs are already becoming redundant due to the pandemic, forcing many services to shift online. It is therefore an evolution. Providing services personally may be omitted altogether in the coming years. Many services are transitioning toward self-servicing. Many companies, therefore, are rescaling where other aspects of their staff’s skills can be used, such as in wealth management advisory, investment banking, etc.

The ones that can be transferred to technology are the jobs that won’t go redundant. Technology will play a major role in the future job market. People will stay but will be reallocated to other roles in their jobs.

5. If you had to guess five sectors with the highest job growth in Bangladesh post the pandemic, which ones would you choose?

Manufacturing will remain a major sector with the highest job growth, considering the demographics and shifts of supply chain globally. Evolution is happening where the gap portfolio is changing. Therefore, industries which are heavily exports-oriented and involve sectors of import substitution and domestic consumption will entail tremendous opportunities for young graduates.