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I recently had the opportunity of giving a presentation on Networking to the students and staff of the Centre for Future-ready Graduates (CFG) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Asia’s leading university and in the top twenty in the world.

The CFG has over 50 staff and is less than two years old and ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’ i.e. prepare students who are currently entering an era of rapid change which will continue to disrupt the future of work for years to come. Under the leadership of the dynamic Crystal Lim the Centre has collected insights from over 300 multinational and local employers to come up with world’s first ‘CFG Future-ready Index’ which comprises 9 essential soft skills – resilience, curiosity, adaptability,insight,empathy, emotional sensing, entrepreneurial thinking, pursuing convictions and vision. Over 5,000 NUS freshman have now been through the programme entitled ‘Roots and Wings’ and the reaction and results have been very positive. CFG is a global, first of its kind, centre and think tank on holistic education, equipping students for successful future careers and enabling them to lead happy and meaningful lives. The Centre believes that in a future of robotics and automation most of the jobs that will be left for humans will be ones requiring the quintessentially human skill of empathy which studies show is declining due to increasing use of screen time and information overload. Roots and Wings is based on personal and interpersonal effectiveness skills and is based on the science of human potential. It’s a response to a world which is more volatile, uncertain,complex and ambiguous (VUCA) than ever before. To cope with this students need to upgrade their ‘inner technology’ and develop key personal and interpersonal effectiveness skills. The personal ‘Roots’ skills enable students to discover their strengths and unique potential, while the interpersonal ‘Wings’ skills help students connect with others and live a life of purpose and meaning. Developed by University College Dublin alumnus, Dr. Gregor Lange, a clinical psychologist who is Head of Learning and Development in CFG, this unique approach is based on latest findings in neuroscience, psychology and leadership research and aims to maximise the participants’ potential in their academic journey, career and personal life.

A key element in the Roots and Wings journey is Networking which is why I was so delighted to have the opportunity of presenting on the topic. Everybody says Networking is really important but no school or college teaches it and no company has as a strategy for it which all sounds a bit contradictory. To me, and my colleagues in DM Training, this initiative in the National University of Singapore is somewhat of a breakthrough and underscores what companies are telling us – the graduates coming out of colleges today are smarter, brighter, more deductive and more analytical than ever before but weak in purpose, meaning, empathy, relationships and networking. Our hope is that schools and colleges (and we are working with a number in Ireland and Australia) will take a leaf out of the CFG playbook and tackle the issue. There is increasing realisation that ‘soft skills are hard’ but will become key differentiating factors in career and life success.

You can find the full report here.

Kingsley Aikins

DM Networking Presentation And The National University Of Singapore
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