Universities must equip learners with an agile, adaptable and resilient mindset and inculcate a lifelong learning culture if they are to produce talents that can cope with the emerging technologies in the post-pandemic era.
WOU Chancellor Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, in addressing the graduates at the 12th e-convocation ceremony on 27 November 2021, stressed that the future workplace favours employees who are agile, resilient and lifelong learners.
“I believe WOU exemplifies the qualities of what a university of the future is all about, with its social mission to produce holistic talents for industry and to build tomorrow’s leaders. The University ensures that its graduates have functional hard skills and soft skills, an entrepreneurial mindset, be able to work in multicultural teams, are civic-minded, and exemplify noble values. These are what make WOU graduates future-proof.”
He said a lack of employee skill sets was a significant barrier to digitalisation among businesses. He added that the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 found cloud computing, big data and e-commerce as the top technologies most likely to be adopted by companies, and that new skill sets are needed to apply these technologies.
Tunku Imran urged universities to “innovate and invest, and collaborate with industry to create a future-proof curriculum and produce graduates who mirror the skills of the professional world”. He said the curriculum must embed 21st century skills, such as technology literacy, information and communication, creativity and innovation, problem-solving and critical thinking.
WOU Chief Executive and Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Lily Chan, in her speech, stressed the University’s strong standing in open distance learning (ODL). “With WOU, we ensure we have good pedagogies, good curriculum designs, good programme structures, and a good delivery system.”
She said the studying of WOU students was minimally uninterrupted during the pandemic since they are distance learners who are “well acquainted with self-learning methods, able to carry on relatively unscathed compared to students of traditional universities.”
Prof Chan also highlighted the University’s new tagline, ‘Think Tomorrow’, that reflects its focus in providing students with a versatile education that keeps pace with the ongoing global technological advancements. She remarked, “WOU updates course contents, adopts new learning platforms and integrates knowledge from different disciplines to develop an education curriculum that prepares students for the future of work”.
Tunku Imran conferred diplomas and degrees virtually to a total of 953 graduates, the highest number to date. Out of this, 776 were from the undergraduate programmes and 177 from the postgraduate programmes. The age range was 21 to 67 years old, and they comprised 61% females and 39% males.
The majority of the graduates were from the ODL mode, except for 98 undergraduates from the full-time, on-campus learning programmes. The occupations represented included lecturers, teachers, engineers, managers, HR staff, technicians, sales and marketing personnel, accounting executives, secretaries, clerks and IT professionals.
The programmes producing the highest number of graduates this year were the Accounting degree (BBAC), followed by the Commonwealth Executive MBA (CeMBA), the Management degree (BBMG), and the Diploma in Early Childhood Education (DECE).
With the 2021 batch of graduates, the University’s alumni base has now increased to 6,132.