Over the past decade, the rate of technological changes driven by the rapid development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and artificial intelligence has been overwhelming. These technological changes have transformed economies and changed the various jobs and the skills that employers are looking from freshly graduated students who are looking to be absorbed into the job market. The introduction of robots, artificial intelligence and automation have significantly changed various roles performed in the workplace. To this extent, fresh graduates joining the workforce might find it difficult to be integrated into the various positions in the workplace especially if these students have not been well prepared during the education process. The education system must adjust the way it is preparing students for future careers because of the disruption that is expected in the workplace as a result of the extensive use and application of technology. The right skills and digital competencies must be imparted into students in anticipation of the effects of technological advancements on their future careers.
Experts in different fields disagree on their predictions about what changes will be brought to the labor market by technological innovation, but they all agree there is need for changes in the education sector to better prepare students for the future. In the United States, in particular, economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz from Harvard observe that there is a rising inequality that has resulted from the failure of the education system keep pace with the technological innovation and advancements (Brown & Keep). There is also a rising demand for higher-level skills in the job market while lower-level skill jobs are taken over by technology. The rate at which the automation and artificial intelligence are advancing has led to the reduction of the need of various human labor which has made it difficult for people to find a job even when they are equipped with advanced education (Brown & Keep). Therefore, there appears to be a mismatch between the education system and the skills required in a digitally developed world. This gap must be closed if the education system in the United States is to remain relevant to the requirements of the 21st-century world.
The consensus among experts and policymakers is that to prepare students for the future, the education system will have to adapt and prepare students for the changing labor market. This is because jobs are expected to become more technical as a result of technological advancements. A recent study by labor economists found that “one more robot per thousand workers reduces the employment to population ratio by about 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by 0.25-0.5 percent.” (Frainie & Anderson). Frainie and Anderson also argue that although many people think that technology will only affect low paying and manual jobs there is overwhelming evidence that artificial intelligence can do the same or even better work than what is done by people like financial reporters, lawyers, journalists and even border patrol agents (Frainie & Anderson). It is therefore vital that both students and the education system make an extra effort to prepare for the future eventuality that technology will be part and parcel of their careers.
As a country, the United States cannot be left behind in preparing for the future with technology. The only way we can remain a global power as well as competitive is by ensuring that the next generation is equipped with the necessary education and training that will help them mitigate the challenges they are likely to face in a digitized world. The role of education and training is critical when it comes to producing a generation that will enable the United States to retain leadership in the crucial fields that are emerging with the help of technology. If the education system does not adapt to the coming future, they are likely to produce students who will lag behind when it comes to critical technological sectors such as artificial intelligence (Allen). The US cannot afford such an eventuality where they come second in the technology race because this would mean a situation of digital and cyber inferiority. This is an unimaginable situation in a country that boasts of its success depending on well-trained experts in different fields such as engineering and science.
However, there is a feeling that the country might be lagging behind because the education system was designed to produce excellent STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) experts that would help maintain the country’s strategic superiority and this was a significant factor in assisting the nation to prevail in things such as Cold War (Allen). Times have however changed, and the next phase that has been dubbed the fourth industrial revolution will require that the education system envisages the necessary changes that will guide the next generation of students in dealing with the relevant technology. This also applies to educators who have to adopt new teaching skills that are required to prepare students with the educational needs of the 21st century. In other words, this has to be combined efforts from all stakeholders, and they have to come up with a comprehensive strategy that will move the education system to a technological age including availing of the necessary resources to achieve this feat.
Not all theorists and experts believe that technology will have a significant impact the job market. Some of economic experts argue that just like in the past, technology will present new positions and professions that will end up creating and replacing the jobs that the same technology will have phased out through automation (Brown & Keep). They also state that although there will be a period of transition, there will be new opportunities and employment created by technology. Such experts believe that there is an exaggeration on technological unemployment which is a situation where graduates are unable to find jobs because they lack the necessary training in technology for the jobs available in the market. This is despite overwhelming evidence suggesting that many jobs are the risk of computerization.
In conclusion, there is no denying the fact that technology advancement has created both opportunities and challenges for the education system and the students graduating from this system. The various training and education received by the students might not necessarily match with the tasks they will be asked to perform in the workplace. It is up to the education system to adapt and match the advancement in technology to prepare the students well for the future. It is an opportunity for those responsible to come up with policies that will transform the education sector to provide the relevant skills to the students that will help them be easily integrated into a technology-driven world.