Future proofing our graduates amidst the human revolution



Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM) has hosted the third of the Ministry of Higher Education's University of Future Seminar series. This year's event, 'Education 4.0: The Human Revolution and Future Proofing Our Graduates', featured Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, the University's Chief Executive Officer and Provost, as the main speaker. Attendees included guest of honour YB Dato' Seri Idris Jusoh, Malaysia's Minister of Higher Education, and chairs of various universities' boards of governors.

Professor Al-Atabi said that the world is currently experiencing its fourth industrial revolution, dubbed the Human Revolution.

“While previous revolutions have created more jobs opportunities for humankind, the present Human Revolution has had the opposite effect, with more jobs being lost to automations and robotics."

Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi

This, along with the world population's increasing life expectancy, has, he said, led to an expanding pool of human resources battling it out in a shrinking job market. “In fact, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 30% of jobs in the UK could be replaced by automation by the 2030s, with the figures projected to be as high as 38% in the US.” 

Professor Al-Atabi added that depression, anxiety and suicide are on the rise globally, while empathy and emotional intelligence rates among young people are declining. “This is where Relationship Management and Self Management need to play a key role!”

He cited a workshop held at a recent Youth Transformation Programme (YTP) by Heriot-Watt University Malaysia as an example of rewiring the brain to learn Self Management. “Students were required to pay RM1 each time they uttered the word ‘problem' and taught to turn it into an opportunity,” he explained.

The participants said that the YTP helped to transform their mindsets, with many of them deciding to enrol at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia. Among them was Komalah A/P Sevamuthu Raja who is pursuing the University's Foundation in Business programme. She said, “The YTP helped me to get a better perspective on life.  I learnt that empathy is important in nurturing more positive relationships and environments.”

Her course mate, Sophia Adelina binti Mohd Faisal, studying for a degree in Psychology, said, “The most important lesson I learnt from the YTP is that we can be our own best friend. Learning about yourself is a continuous process; the more you grow, the more you can learn about your strengths and weaknesses, and the more you can improve!”

Professor Al-Atabi also emphasised the importance of prioritising happiness. “In the UAE, there's even a Minister for Happiness that addresses a national agenda to increase happiness,” he said, before asking, “Should the University of Future, therefore, take on the role of developing happy, resilient and emotionally intelligent graduates?”

According to Professor Al-Atabi this is a necessary step in educating graduates who are to be professionally relevant and future-proof. “Among other things, the University of the Future should make it its agenda to develop a Happiness Index, with Emotional Intelligence and Happiness being taught under the Malaysian General Studies align Emotional Intelligence to the Integrated Cumulative Grade Point Average (ICGPA), ensuring that staff members have similar opportunities to develop their emotional intelligence and happiness.”

At the end of the seminar, Minister Dato' Seri Idris Jusoh thanked the speakers and those in attendance. He also delivered a few closing remarks.

“Humanising the 4th Industrial Revolution is one of the key challenges that will face our education system. Today's seminar acts as a powerful reminder of the importance emotional and physiological wellbeing is for all our students”.

Dato' Seri Idris Jusoh, Malaysian Minister of Higher Education

The Minister expressed his confidence that this seminar as well as subsequent seminars will place Malaysian higher education on a strong footing in facing the 4th Industrial Revolution.