McKinsey predicts that up to 800 million global workers could be replaced by robots by 2030. Among those, according to CNBC, "High-paid, well-educated white-collar workers will be heavily affected by AI." AI is excellent at mastering professional skills such as reasoning, pattern recognition, data analysis, planning, predicting and learning. Jobs held by workers with college are five times more […]
McKinseypredicts that up to 800 million global workers could be replaced by robots by 2030. Among those, according to CNBC, "High-paid, well-educated white-collar workers will be heavily affected by AI." AI is excellent at mastering professional skills such as reasoning, pattern recognition, data analysis, planning, predicting and learning. Jobs held by workers with college are five times more likely to be affected by AI than jobs held by those with high school degrees.
As more professional jobs are automated by AI, today's college and university students have increased uncertainty about the outlook for jobs in 2030. Educators and leaders in higher education are beginning to think about how the future AI technologies will impact students' career prospects and what changes institutions must adopt to prepare students for tomorrow's jobs.
Charles Darwin is credited with saying, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives but the most adaptable." Likewise, colleges and universities must adapt and reform the education system to help students survive and thrive by helping them gain skills that are relevant to the modern workplace. While knowledge-based learning in the classroom is still important, a Gallupreport indicates career-relevant learning is becoming increasingly critical to students' well-being and future career success.
One of the relevant skills crucial for future career success is the ability to work side by side with AI, machine learning and robotics. The future workplaces, regardless of which industry they are in, will eventually settle into intimate working relationships with AI technology. We have already witnessed this trend in many professional fields. For example, accountants have been using AI-powered software to perform accounting tasks such as analyzing expenditures and reconciling bank statements; marketers have been leveraging AI-powered business intelligence to predict consumer behavior and gain marketing insights; musicians have started using AI to create otherwise impossible new songs and analyzing data to predict the next big hit.
To help students succeed in the careers in the era of AI, one vital solution is to expand the digital curriculum to improve their digital literacy and soft skills that cannot be easily replaced by AI. Here are some ideas:
Digitally Coupled Academic Programs
Develop a wide range of digitally coupled academic programs like Fintech (Finance + Tech), Edtech (Education + Tech), Biotech (Biology + Tech), Medtech (Medical + Tech), Healthtech (Health + Tech) or Legaltech (Legal + Tech) in response to the rapid changes in the industry with increased utilization of smart technologies — whether it's AI, machine learning, deep learning or robotics — to optimize business operations and efficiencies.
Often the evolving industry that embraces smart technologies offers high-paying jobs and promising growth for people with knowledge and skills that can combine the two (industry plus technology).
Develop comprehensive computer curricula and technical materials that cover popular computer programming like Python or R as well as common digital tools like Bloomberg Terminal or ArcGIS. This will help students become digitally fluent in mastering computers across different platforms to advance their coursework and research.
In today's digital age, simply knowing how to use MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, emails, internet search or social media no longer qualifies as digital fluency. Students with comprehensive computer skills who know how to use various tech tools will thrive and succeed in their future workplaces.
Data Analytics Training
Inject data analytics training into students' course of study to help students master the use of data generated by AI. We are living in the era of big data, and analytics is everywhere. Students, regardless of their major, must develop data analytics skills and know how to access and analyze information using tools to discover valuable insights, recognize patterns, predict trends and support data-driven decision making.
Digital Credential Programs
Develop digital credential programs and tech add-ons, like a Fintech boot camp or an Edtech boot camp, to support continuous learning and up-skilling for students of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels.
Facing the rapid rate of technology change, the modern workforce has to constantly update their digital skills. Employers may want to train their employees to upskill and reskill. Employees may want to grow and stay competitive with new digital skills. Providing digital credential programs for upskilling and reskilling is a critical way to support students of all kinds to stay current with the technological trend.
Career Service Partnership
Partner with student career service professionals to provide students with opportunities to practice their industry knowledge and digital skills. In addition to traditional career counseling services provided to students, the career service center may partner with either internal or external organizations to sponsor special training and practicing sessions, workshops and internships to give students hands-on opportunities and guidance for their future career aspirations.
EQ And Soft Skills
To avoid being replaced by AI, students must also possess high emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient, or EQ) and soft skills that AI and machines can't imitate and automate. While helping students obtain digital skills is critical, it's equally crucial for colleges and universities to help students enhance their creativity, critical thinking, collaboration abilities, communication, resilience, self-regulation, self-awareness, leadership, motivation, empathy and the ability to transfer learning from one problem to another.
When everything is equal, students with higher EQ and soft skills will have competitive advantages in the job market.
In the age of AI, students who want to avoid being replaced by robots must constantly develop their digital and soft skills to future-proof their careers. The modern workplace is drastically changing with AI. To prepare students for jobs in 2030, colleges and universities need to embrace digital transformation and reform the education system from knowledge-based learning to career-relevant learning by offering more digital elements and soft skill development.
Article written by: Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family.
Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.