How AI and Associated Technologies Change the Role of Higher Ed

We are at the center of profound changes in the nature of employment around the world. More recently, fueled by a pandemic, the nature of work, including our tools and practices, is undergoing dramatic change. The big resignation, in part, reflects an understanding that many jobs do not have a viable future and that they do not make the best use of employees ’abilities.

Jobs are on the verge of changing or replacing artificial intelligence and artificial intelligence programs. Gone are the years when colleges trained students for 30 years in one career, when several changes took place in the work itself. The turnover is insane. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in January 2020, the average length of employment of employees at their current employer was just 4.1 years. Probably, this figure decreased even more during the Great Resignation.

We are all familiar with the robotic revolution of previous decades in which working positions on the assembly line were lost to robotic assembly lines. This shake-up affected the skilled but less educated population. Human skills are no longer needed because “smart” robots could do the job faster, more consistently, and at less cost to the business. Brookings now warns us that the most vulnerable jobs of the future are in the higher paid and more educated areas: “Our analysis shows that workers with a higher or professional degree are almost four times more prone to AI than workers with only high school. Holders of bachelor’s degrees will be most exposed to AI at the level of education, more than five times more often than workers with higher education alone.

I understand that higher education needs to be done much more than just a vocational school that prepares a student for work. However, in today’s economy it is quite clear that students are looking for work, career growth and career potential far above all other forms of enrichment and prospects. However, as Jeff Selling notes, “The world of work has changed, while colleges along with employers are living in a different era. It is no longer possible for colleges to provide students with the professional skills they will need to serve more than a few years in virtually any post-graduate work. Most 20-year-old college graduates go from job to job to get an education and gain additional skills. And the paradox is that the jump in jobs is the main reason why employers are reluctant to invest in workers in the first place. ” This reluctance to invest in new employees is further fueled by the development of less costly, more flexible and easily renewable AI.

Market AI is largely responding to the shortage of skilled workers. That is, if employers can’t find enough people to meet their needs, they turn to AI. Boston Consulting Group sees in the near future in this area the involvement of government, companies and higher education:

To reduce skills mismatches, governments should upgrade the education system. They need to create more flexible institutions that can anticipate the future needs of companies and refocus on meta-skills. Companies need to invest in corporate academies, training partnerships, and continuous training and retraining of their existing staff. They also need to transform their staffing functions and processes to meet the changing approach needed to hire and retain talent with new in-demand skills. Companies that make these investments and make significant changes in their processes will gain a significant competitive advantage over those who follow their current approach. Countries that use education to create attractive locations for companies will gain a competitive advantage over their static neighbors.

Continuing and professional education thrives both in universities and in the corporate environment. The growth of certificate programs is unprecedented. This is not in a carefully organized manner. There is no supposedly organized concerted effort to identify new and future needs, set specific industry standards, and subsidize quality programs to meet changing needs in the economy. Instead, there is a more approach to the Wild West, where individual universities and corporations create their own entrepreneurship programs. In too few cases, states or corporate groups try to draw up a roadmap to meet training needs in areas.

Meanwhile, artificial intelligence promises to turn 500 million jobs into white-collar workers in the next five years! The shutdown of higher education and the industry will have a strong impact on graduates of the workforce who have not been renewed and have not improved their skills for the developing economy. This will further reduce the credibility and perceived value of the degrees as they become increasingly obsolete and irrelevant.

We need leadership within and between institutions to cope with this challenge. A mixture of powers serves students poorly. Clarity and concreteness of outcomes, as well as a clear link to a viable career, are needed to build effective learning pathways that meet the needs of today and tomorrow. The industry has already begun to create its own educational structures to meet its needs. Notably, Google’s career certificate program has garnered millions at an economic cost.

Who is managing in your institution to respond to this massive shift in the training needs of our economy? Can you play a role in ensuring coherence and significant harmonization of inter-institutional / industry standards for certificate programs to best meet the new economy?

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