Reading Martin Ford’s The Rise of the Robots shook me up a little just like any good book should. The idea that technology, for the first time in history, is taking more jobs than it replaces. Typically, a new automation will shuffle workers into other positions, but those other positions are also being replaced by robotics. Klaus Schwab, in The Fourth Industrial Revolution reinforces this prediction, “So far, the evidence is this: The fourth industrial revolution seems to be creating fewer jobs in new industries than previous revolutions.” It’s a sobering outlook.
Where does higher education fit it to this? It will continue to prepare citizens for the workforce by teaching them the critical skills they need to be an effective contributor to today and tomorrow’s economy. However, it needs to refine its approach and be more in tune with what is required in the workforce.
Higher education has never focused on preparing citizens for entry level, low paying jobs, but employers are criticizing higher education for not producing quality graduates (Fox, 2019 & York University, 2019). Students are still receiving information that they can retrieve from Google and not being given the opportunity to synthesize information and create new solutions to existing social, economic and political problems. There is no easy solution, but awareness of what awaits graduates after convocation is a great beginning.
Two eye-opening books that shift the teaching and learning paradigm from a dispensary of facts to a place of learning and preparation for entrepreneurship and employers are Klaus Schwab’s The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. If you’re looking for a prescriptive book on how to change teaching approaches I recommend Kathleen Taylor’s Facilitating Learning with the Adult Brain in Mind: A Conceptual and Practical Guide. These three resources should be a mandatory read for (higher education) instructors, reading these will better align the skills of graduates with the demands of our economy.