Yes, you can prepare students for jobs that don't exist yet

As automation reshapes the economy, higher ed grapples with developing students who can compete in the labor market, writes Jason Furman for Education Week.

In fact, one third of tech experts believe that education won't evolve quickly enough to prepare graduates for the future economy. Furman, a professor at Harvard University, believes otherwise.

He offers three things educators should keep in mind to ensure that students will thrive—even in the face of uncertainty:

1: Jobs will exist, but perhaps not the ones you expect

Automation may make some occupations obsolete, but it could also raise incomes and create more jobs, Furman argues.

But what those jobs will look like is still unclear, he notes. Analysts may offer industry predictions, but technology will likely bring unexpected changes. It's better to focus on what we do know, he argues.

2: Higher education still plays a key role

And what is it that we do know? Education is important. Research shows that college graduates are more likely to experience economic success than those who only have a high school diploma, writes Furman.

Jobs that have a predictable routine and repetitive tasks are at the highest risk of being filled by robots, according to a report by Indeed. Higher education will likely remain critical for students to bypass the jobs that can be automated, Furman argues.

Tackling the 'soft skills' gap

3: Build skills that are AI complements, not substitutes

Today's best artificial intelligence continues still hasn't mastered creativity and empathy, writes Furman. To compete in the future economy, students will need a mix of both soft skills and technical know-how, he notes.

For example, students should focus on learning how to interpret statistics rather than routine computational skills, he writes.

Furman offers a final caveat—his own guidelines are generalizations, and the future will always hold surprises. But ensuring students have a holistic education will prepare them to thrive—even in uncertainty (Furman, Education Week, 9/29).

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