The Jobs of Today May not Exist Tomorrow – How do we Prepare Students?

Not long ago, I wrote a blog post entitled: Lifelong Learning is an Essential Skill, not a Buzzword. The more I read about future-readiness, 21st century skills, job market reports, and advances in technology (especially AI), the more I understand this to be true. Recently, PEW Research published a report on the Future of Jobs & Job Training.


Courtesy of Gerd Leonhard

This report reaffirmed the fact that in the near future, millions of jobs will be lost to automation and AI that can do these tasks not only just as well, but often better than their human counterparts. These are not just rudimentary, repeatable tasks, but sophisticated, white-collar jobs that have generally been considered “safe” from automation: dermatologists, journalists, claims adjusters, financial reporters, and more. With the rise of automated driving, millions of workers who rely on driving as their means of employment are looking at becoming obsolete (long-haul truck drivers, taxi drivers, delivery wo/men, and more).

Pushing aside the very real, and daunting, questions of what this means for our job market and even Capitalism, for educators and parents this means: how do we prepare students for the stark realities of an ever shifting job market? While new technologies may be depleting jobs, knowing how to leverage them will become an even more essential skill in the future.

“The education system will need to adapt to prepare individuals for the changing labor market. At the same time, recent IT advances offer new and potentially more widely accessible ways to access education.”

Looking at how and when people learn job skills and other training will also need to be examined. Will a traditional high school, college, and beyond model remain the default given the rapidly changing employment models?

“A central question about the future, then, is whether formal and informal learning structures will evolve to meet the changing needs of people who wish to fulfill the workplace expectations of the future.”

PEW delves deeply into this topic, asking experts about their vision of the future and determined 5 Major Themes:

Five major themes about the future of jobs training in the tech age

Considering the uncertainty of the future, what we do know is that we must prepare young people to be flexible and agile learners, critical thinkers, entrepreneurs and innovators, and to know that they must develop a passion and drive for lifelong learning.

While the article is long, I strongly encourage my readers to check out PEW’s publication and put together your own thoughts.

3 thoughts on “The Jobs of Today May not Exist Tomorrow – How do we Prepare Students?

  1. robertlfs

    Good piece to think about. Although I might come across as a bit iconoclastic, I lean toward thinking that particular in fields that do not necessarily require licensing (e.g., museums, cultural heritage venues, digital technology, etc. etc.) that micro-credentialing and experience (including volunteer and internship) will be a much more relevant hiring factors. The last two folks I hired were not the most “academically” qualified from the short-list – and both worked out very well. For example, if I were looking to hire a generic “assistant director” type for a museum with a staff of 4, would I naturally be inclined toward someone with limited experience beyond say an MA in Museum studies, vs a someone with a History BA, who upon graduation took a job as an office assistant somewhere, volunteered at area museums, took a couple of MOOC courses on management/leadership, and had a bunch of Adobe edex courses to their credit. This comparison is becoming more real and commonplace and speaks to the growing mandate of “I am less concerned about your academic credentials and more of what you are going to do the first day on the job.”

    I know that my position remains in the minority on this in my field, but I believe we do a tremendous disservice to students if we do not encourage them to make their box of skills go well beyond that of formal higher education settings.

    1. Jennifer Carey Post author

      Thank you Robert for your thoughts. I, like you, believe that we will see a shift in hiring practice and philosophy! I also encourage others (along with myself) to expand your skillset as much as possible! Sometimes the best way to move up, is to move laterally first!

  2. Kenneth C. Wells

    This is a great piece to look at. Thinking about it, it has brought to mind that the internet has become much of a greater influence on the job field. As someone who is upcoming and looking for a career, I question wherever or not that technology will be the guide to the future as more A.I. is becoming intelligent. We, as a society, need to create a balance of the amount of technology used for hiring and use traditional means such as face to face interviews.


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