Stepping up my game: getting skills for the 21st Century - Al Kags
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Stepping up my game: getting skills for the 21st Century

In a bid for self-improvement, I am now adding a new skill to my reserve of basic skills: video editing. As the world continues to globalise and become more competitive, professionals need more and more skills to survive. When my career started out, I was way ahead of folk because I could not only use Microsoft Office and email (which everyone out of high school had to do so that they could be “with it”) but also I had “desktop publishing” skills – I was a “designer”.

I could make a fairly decent living out of it – this was at a time when all that people needed to start a business card design firm was Microsoft word (Adobe came a little after), some embossed paper and an inkjet printer (the 486 Compaq computer (pic left), the software and the printer were serious investments in those days). The 486 CPU hurtled at “breakneck speeds” of 33 MHz, sported the HUGE 120MB Hard disk (or for the wealthier/ more extravagant 210MB hard disk), the 1.44″ floppy disk drive and the new feature of cutting edge computers at the time – brightness control! 

To be able to write HTML code and JavaScript made you a person to reckon with in the industry – you can build websites! In fact being a web designer was something to be said with a bit of ‘swag’ because you were an accomplished person. A 3 page HTML web site with some animated GIFs could earn you at least Kshs. 20,000 and if you bundled hosting and an email address – a full Kshs 10,000 more!

Today, in this age of WordPress having a web site is no longer a differentiator. You are not even cutting edge if you can make your own regular podcast because PodOmatic exists. You can publish your own book on Lulu and do a video blog on YouTube. You can shoot a HD video from a $100 mobile phone. No biggie.

So the plethora of “basic skills” required for an average professional to be reasonably cutting edge is now more than just knowledge of computers – we have to learn to design our own brochures and business cards (and sign posts), our own web sites, edit our own videos to upload on YouTube, write, edit and lay out you own book ready for sale on  kindle, create your own podcast, design you own T-shirt and produce these things yourself using the basic tools now readily available. (Incidentally, you need to have basic understanding of law, business management and some technical appreciation of circuits)

As an aside, I shudder to think what basic skills my son, Harry, will need when he is starting out as a young professional 18 years from now. And I am not sure that there are many schools in the whole wide world that are preparing him for that future.

So 2014 is the year I build on my basic skills for this decade. Using YouTube videos and some instruction from colleagues at Thellesi Media, I am teaching myself basic video editing skills. And the intention is that by the end of the year, I shall start my own vlog – please hold me accountable and keep me in check on this commitment, won’t you?

Anyway, here is my very first edited video (Adobe Premier CS6) of Jay Bhalla, my co-founder at the Open Institute and I having a bit of fun. And below that, a short video on the Open Duka story.

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