Educating for Tomorrow's Technology

June 3, 2019
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Author: Tyran Saffold Jr

Technology company, Dell, estimates that 85 percent of jobs that will be available in 2030, are yet to be created. Also by 2030, researchers for McKinsey and Company estimate that the demand for workers involved in specific “predictably physical” roles will decline. To prepare for workforce of tomorrow, the abundance of automation and rapid changes in technology, America’s educators should be prepared to think outside of the sand box.

Tomorrow's Technology

McKinsey estimates that the demand for jobs consisting of predictable physical work, or office support, will see the largest declines of 31 percent and 20 percent respectively. Demand for jobs involving customer interaction are anticipated to decrease by one percent.

Change in Labor Demand by 2030

With an understanding of where the demand for various skills is headed, educators can adapt their curriculum to meet the upcoming needs. The implementation of new skill requirements could spark fundamental shifts in policy, and strategic workforce planning — leading to concentrated changes to the country’s education programs.

The research indicates that the strongest strategy has two primary pillars.

Pillar One: Develop Programs That Anticipate Skill Demand

A survey from the Pew Research Center revealed that about one third of 1,400 business leaders expressed “no confidence” that America’s education system and job training programs will evolve quickly enough to meet the next decade’s labor demands. For university professors and program directors, the challenge lies in developing programs that set students up for the anticipated skill demand.

Susan Lund, a labor market partner at McKinsey said that automation will open more jobs — workers who create robots, workers that run computers, occupations we can’t yet imagine — and ultimately boost U.S. productivity and general well-being, as long as the workforce can adequately adjust to the changes it will bring.

“The gap is there,” says Kyle Lagunas, principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, a talent management consulting firm in Austin, Texas. “Most colleges aren’t building out the skills students need to become value-added employees.”

High schools, universities and trade schools will carry the task of transitioning students for the pending changes in the workforce. Teachers, professors, and administrators will have to focus on building curriculums that will help students prepare for what Klaus Schwab from World Economic Forum coined as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Pillar Two: Develop Skills That Can’t Be Automated (yet)

“Writers, artists and those who rely on empathy or creativity at work should be those with the most job security as automation continues to spread,” said Jason Hong, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Robots are good at one thing; doing exactly what they are told to do, minus the common sense that humans are equipped with. Now, more than ever, the focus will shift onto employees with applicable soft skills.

Courses that place emphasis on the development of skills like problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and emotional intelligence will prove their value as students ascend into the future of automation. The change should not be met with fear and apprehension, but rather ambition and excitement as educators will have the opportunity to nurture important and critical skills in our country’s youth.

Educating for Tomorrow’s Technology

Research firm Edelman Intelligence anticipates that some jobs of the future won’t require degrees; instead, they will only require specific skills. To prepare students for the future, university career centers and academics can develop coursework for students that encourages and cultivates a blend of technical and soft skills.

Above all, the work of the future will change, whether we’re prepared or not. Educators are not insulated from the unpredictability of technological progression or disruption. If we want to better equip those who hold the keys to our future, there needs to be a restructuring of things at the base of it all: fundamental education.