Preparing Students for a Tech-Driven, Dynamic Job Market

It seems like everyday there is a new invention to make our lives easier. From a robot in your home that you can address by name to self-driving cars, we have seen a rapid increase in technological advances. While these advances have made our lives simpler and simpler, they have swiftly changed the job market. Now more than ever, imperfect human beings are replaced for smarter, swifter, and more accurate robots, artificial intelligence, and automation. In fact, a recent Forbes article reported that from 2004-2009 alone, over 7 million people lost their jobs to automation. These numbers will only increase as automation speeds up processes, lowers costs, and increases earnings for companies. CNBC also recently reported projections that automation will likely eliminate over 25% of jobs in the United States. As one can imagine, the mechanization across industries and the elimination of jobs will drastically reshape not only the job market but also the majors and courses available at any given university. After all, a post-secondary degree is supposed to help students prepare for the working world, right?

The problem is, colleges can’t always keep up. An article in Wired, “Impatient with Colleges, Employers Design Their Own Courses,” discusses companies that have found a way to take matters in their own hands as they recognized that many colleges are sending freshly primed graduates out in the world with outdated information. This phenomenon has become so commonplace that many top companies including Google, Microsoft, IBM and Apple have dropped their requirements for a bachelor’s degree altogether according to CNBC’s publication, Make It. Instead, they value vocational programs or tech boot camps that can download recent, industry-specific information quickly and efficiently into their students. 

However these expectations are still fresh, meaning many high school students are still matriculating into universities that probably will not have the most relevant majors or coursework. The shortage of cyber-security professionals acts as a prime example of some college’s inability to keep up with industry standards and groom students for a successful career in contemporary fields. An article in Forbes states, “Computer science programs struggle to offer adequate cyber-security courses for the next generation of technologists. Of the top 50 computer science programs in the U.S., only 42% offer three or more information security-specific courses for undergraduates.” As a result, the United States has seen a significant skills gap in cyber-security. According to The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ article, “The Cybersecurity Workforce Gap” 82% of employers reported a shortage in cyber-security professionals in their organization. By 2022, the cyber-security workforce is expected to reach a whopping 1.8 million unfilled positions.

Despite the gap in providing the framework for successful cyber-security professionals to enter the workforce, the critical need for them persists. Some jobs cannot be automated. They require a living, breathing expert. These students—potential cyber-security professionals—exist. In fact, they are all around us. They play video games, take apart computers, build gaming consoles, code. Technology is their interest, so much so that they learn their craft on their own. In fact, according to the 2019 Hacker Report, 80% of hackers learn their craft without instruction. Hacking, when done ethically, can be a great form of cyber-security. However, these talented individuals must know their hobby can be more than just a hobby. They must know that they can capitalize on their interests and make an honest career out of it. And as we’ve mentioned many times, people are interested in their field of work are far more likely to do well and be successful. High schools and colleges owe it to their students to let them know what their options are. With a job market that continues to stretch, shrink, and drip across industries, we must ensure students know all of the opportunities available to them so they can thrive in an industry they love.

The spontaneous creation and mysterious absence of jobs will undoubtedly carry on as technology continues to change our daily landscape. As such, we must continue to stop and ask ourselves if we are doing all that we can both inside and outside of college to prepare students for such a dynamic job market. 

Preparing Students for a Tech-Driven, Dynamic Job Market

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