While automation fears may be overstated, career demands are changing and will change education and workforce training

The advance of robotics has led to concerns that automation will replace workers, virtually wiping out entire job classifications. More than a year ago, we suggested that changes in the way we work would also require changes in training and education. 

The more routine the work, the more likely it is to be first in line for automation. All of which underscores the importance of higher-level workforce skills, decision-making, analysis and communications. In our state, a leader in innovation and technology, the bar is set a little higher. As we’ve written,

By 2020, 70 percent of Washington jobs will require postsecondary education or training. Preparing our students for these opportunities requires high-quality education at every level.

Helping reach that goal is the impetus behind the Washington Roundtable’s #WAKIDS4WAJOBS campaign.

We’ve also noted that regions and industries will be unevenly impacted by the trend toward automation. 

A new report, The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030, takes an in-depth look what’s ahead for the workplace. Pearson, a learning company, produced the report in partnership with Nesta, an innovation foundation, and in collaboration with the Oxford Martin School. The press release says,

The study takes an entirely new approach to forecasting employment and skill demands in the US and UK. In contrast to many recent headlines, the study finds that many jobs today will still be in demand by 2030 and beyond. However, while jobs may remain, the skills needed for success are changing.

For the first time ever, researchers combined diverse human expertise with active machine learning to produce a more nuanced view of future employment trends. Using this innovative approach, the study forecasts that only one in five workers are in occupations that face a high likelihood of decline.

The research also forecasts one in ten people are highly likely to experience a rise in demand for their job. The remaining roughly 70% of workers are in jobs where there is greater uncertainty about the future: these workers can boost their prospects if they can invest in the right skills.

We encourage you to watch the 2-minute welcome video for an overview of the report and this short video answering the question, “why skills?”

The report concludes,

This research on the future of jobs and skills has implications for education systems, employers, and individuals.

Among them (click for more):

Education systems will need to support better understanding, teaching practice, and assessment of the granular skills that will be in greater demand…

As the pace of change accelerates, learners will demand more ways to convert learning to earning. Although there will likely always be some demand for traditional brick-and-mortar experiences, more learners will want accelerated and flexible pathways, such as credentials or badges…

Although the advance of automation and artificial intelligence may feel like a losing battle to some, individuals will need to focus on developing the uniquely human skills identified in this research, such as originality, fluency of ideas, and active listening…

The pace of economic change all but guarantees that a single degree started in your teens or a career picked in your 20s will not be everlasting.

The online report is highly engaging. If you are interested in the future of work and how education and training will be affected by the changed environment, we recommend it.

Related is this Associated Press story reporting that 70 percent of Americans believe their jobs are not at risk of automation. The story makes brief mention of the Future of Skills research.