Robots are taking our jobs! With machines already showing capacity to write, compose, and independently navigate, industries from transportation to journalism are quickly realizing the effects of automation on the workplace. The 2016 Economic Report of the President found 83% of jobs paying less than $20 per hour, or the middle-skill job category, will likely be automated, leaving a large pool of displaced workers. In response to these rapid changes, this report discusses the urgency of a robust training and education agenda. They found those positions emphasizing problem solving, intuition, creativity – or, high-skill jobs – harder to automate; jobs making more than $40 per hour have a 0.04% probability of automation.
So, how do we begin to train our students for the future of work?
The assessment practices of both the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) emphasize the importance of soft skill development through the co-curricular. In a 2013 AAC&U survey of college recruiters, 93% reported a “demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a candidate’s undergraduate major.” NACE touts this co-curricular, suggesting experiential learning as a place for transformative educational experiences and the opportunity to work towards mastery of these high-level skills. We must create intentional spaces for skill development and personal reflection to better prepare students for their future.
As campus leaders in the co-curricular, this is validating for our field.
It encourages the out-of-classroom learning we work so hard to push. Internships, networking and shadowing opportunities, career curricula, and student leadership are all the more relevant. While far from breaking news, this does give us even more reason to advocate for inclusion in institutional strategic plans and budget conversations, especially during the tight fiscal years so many of us are experiencing. These reports prove the necessity of learning beyond the classroom as means for ensuring future job success.
Concurrently, we must look to strengthen the experiences students receive in these settings.
Supervisor training, both on campus and off, is even more important. The market is trending toward self-disciplined, remote work. So, we must look for spaces in which students can gain these skills. We need to train supervisors in proper supervision techniques for their support. We must also work with the employers in our communities to understand their employment gaps and needs. Then, we can ensure we are providing the proper educational training for our student population.
The role of technology in the workplace will only grow. Let’s work to experiment, innovate, abandon the status quo as we consider our place in the future of work.
This month is a grab bag, with no particular theme – writer’s choice! Because nobody puts baby in a corner.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at email@example.com.