Preparing students for careers of the future
The US workforce has transformed from an agricultural to a manufacturing to a services-based economy. The forces that brought about those changes disrupted lives and upended expectations about the future. While change is not a new phenomenon, how we prepare students now for twenty-first century jobs gives institutions a chance to make a positive impact.
Postsecondary education is the key to the future for high-school graduates and mid-career professionals alike. Whether learners enroll in full-time degree programs or continuing education courses, academic institutions can be leaders in the career development process by equipping their students with strong, transferrable job skills that are in demand by employers.
– Dr. Jonathan Reichental, CEO of Human Future10
What career skills will job seekers of the future need to master?
The workplace of the future will not only require job-specific skills like coding, but will require strong competence in other areas, including:
- Adaptability. Because the world of work is changing, job seekers have to change with it. They’ll have to learn new skills, fill different roles, and switch jobs throughout their careers. The ability to pivot may give certain workers an edge as they are better able to take advantage of opportunities.
- Life-long learning. Students need to see their education as a life-long journey and embrace learning as a necessary pursuit. Because of the changing nature of work, the skills workers begin their careers with won’t serve them until retirement. And according to researchers, today’s students can expect to have more years in the workplace than previous generations.
- 21st century skills. Problem solving. Critical thinking. Emotional self-regulation. These are all soft skills that help workers survive and thrive in the workplace.
By giving learners a foundation in these transferable skills — skills that are portable from industry to industry — workers will be better prepared to take advantage of opportunities in emerging careers.
Higher education that guides career development
While some types of jobs will disappear, others will take off. Postsecondary education can help students chart a career path that leads to fulfilling work over the course of their lifetimes. It can also equip students to compete in the job market by providing upskilling, certification, degrees, and training to keep students’ skills relevant and updated.
The responsibility of preparing students for the future is urgent as changes to the career landscape accelerate. Access to many of the best careers will be through postsecondary education, bringing learners at every stage — from recent high-school graduates to experienced professionals — to institutions for assistance.