The Importance of Skills in a Career in the Islamic Economy

Rizwan Rahman – Deen and Co Solicitors

To develop ones career, there is a process that can be divided into two parts. The first part is academic, which encompasses primary, secondary and tertiary education. The second part is the vocational.

It is in the academic stage one picks up practical skills without realizing. Far too often, academia is decried as being an arena of impracticality. So many subjects are studied, but to little avail when embarking on a career. However, each subject, however useless they may appear at the time, have lasting benefits in terms of developing ones analytical skills. Processing information, reasoning, and argumentation become embedded in a student if the education provided is of a high standard.

However, these generalized skills have limitations, and they do not necessarily provide a vista into how one should earn a living. A person can just simply fall into a career, and progress according to the expectations of the career. But when joining the Islamic Economy, there is almost a presumption that an entrant is seeking more than just money.

Indeed, the Islamic Economy is a marriage of Islamic law, ethics and money making. But even with these additional facilities, it still expects the entrant to be skilled. It is not enough to be an idealist.
Thus the question for the entrant is to find what skills he/she wishes to refine. In this respect, it is important to categorise careers in the Islamic economy according to skill set.

Skill, Description, Career

  • Numerical (Organisational) – This skill set requires reviewing data and ensuring it accords to standards set by regulatory bodies (Auditing and Book-keeping, Tax Consultants).
  • Numerical (Speculative) – This skill set requires reviewing numbers to prognosticate about future outcomes (Asset Manager, Business Analysis, Share traders, Risk Managers)
  • Analytical and Research – This skill set requires processing information that could be data or non-data driven and developing strategies from the information (Asset Manager, Business Analysts, Consultants, Marketers, Business Development, Investment bankers, Academics).
  • Organisational/Procedural – This skill set requires ensuring organisations meet internal and external regulations (Lawyers, Administration, Shari’a review boards, Back Office in Banks, IT staff).
  • Creative – This skill set requires thinking out of the box and creating new outcomes (Designers, Architects, Lawyers, Shari’a scholars, Tax Consultants, Marketers).
  • Sales and Advocacy – This skill set requires the ability to promote a product (Sales Teams, Front Office in Banks).
  • Negotiation – This skill set requires the ability to persuade another party (Lawyers, Business Development).
  • IT Programming – This skill requires the ability to program (Programmers, Asset Managers, Traders).

This is not an exhaustive list of skills and careers. There are also overlaps. Each skill is not exclusive to the career mentioned, but they do provide an insight into what the central skills are. For those pursing a successful career, they should assess what skills resonate with them, and attempt to locate the right career.

So after deciding the skill set they wish to refine, they need to chart the career path. The next step is to locate the companies that will provide the experience. This can be an arduous task, not least because of the rejections that can result. Companies look for experience to determine whether a candidate will be a right fit leading to an acute paradox in which companies want experience but are not willing to grant experience.

Here internships offer a way to provide a candidate with the experience, knowledge, and a notch on the CV. It also provides a company a cost efficient way to bring on a candidate that can get exposure as well undertake administrative tasks. Internships can be used on a CV to show potential employers interest and commitment. They are also useful ways for entrants to have an idea of what the career might entail.

In an internship, an entrant should seek to absorb as much as he/she can through talking to management, reading the literature and observing the workers. Asking the right questions is important in moving forward, and companies should take the time to guide the intern instead of viewing them as a workhorse.

When finding the right career, sometimes a professional qualification is required. This allows you to boost your career, especially if one goes down the financial route. Qualifications like the ACA, CFA, ACT, MBA, are highly regarded by employers and can lead to better and more profitable opportunities.

As the Islamic economy grows, it is important for companies in the field to support new entrants. While the entrant has an obligation to figure out the right degree and the right skillset, companies have a responsibility to guide them accordingly. For the neophyte entrant, knowledge is limited, and they cannot be blamed for this. But with guidance from the experienced this can be overcome.



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