For more than a century, automotive engineers have focused much of their attention on making vehicles as comfortable, safe and convenient as possible for drivers.
They’ve perfected the positioning of the steering wheel and gas pedal. Experimented with the best way to arrange knobs and controls. Determined the optimum placement of mirrors and other accessories.
What happens to all of this knowledge as cars become driverless? More important, how will an automotive engineer’s job change — and what new skills and knowledge will become essential to performing it?
This excerpt comes from an article in the upcoming issue of Community College Journal, which should be reaching your mailbox soon.
Futurist Thomas Frey uses this example to show how technology is fundamentally altering everything we thought we knew. This includes the nature of many long-standing occupations — and even the college experience.
“The world is changing rapidly,” says Frey, who is founder and executive director of the Colorado-based DaVinci Institute. “Ten years from now, education is going to look radically different. It might not feel like it, but we’re in the midst of a huge transition.”
Fueled by exponential advances in technology, the world will change more in the next few decades than in all of human history, Frey says.
The research firm McKinsey & Co. predicts that automation will have far-reaching consequences on the global workforce, with about half of current work activities becoming automated by 2030. Dell Technologies predicts that as many as 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 don’t yet exist.
Amid such rapid transformation, the need for lifelong learning will be critical.
“The skills that people learn will have a much shorter half-life as we move forward, and workers are going to have to be retrained more often,” Frey foresees. “Somebody who enters the workforce in 2030 had better plan to reboot their skills around eight to 10 times throughout their career.”
But if workers must learn new skills that often, they’ll want to do so in the least amount of time possible. Community college leaders will have to think beyond traditional structures such as semester-length courses and two-year degree programs, designing micro-learning experiences that better match learners’ needs.
If they don’t, their institutions might not survive. By the year 2030, “over half of traditional colleges will have collapsed,” Frey predicts.
Chock full of experience
Fortunately, community colleges are well-positioned to succeed in an uncertain future: They already have extensive experience in innovating and quickly designing new programs to meet emerging workforce demands.
Frey and other experts believe that if community colleges are to thrive over the next decade and beyond, their leaders must create highly personalized experiences that meet the community’s needs. They should be willing to reinvent traditional educational structures to better serve their communities. And, they should look for opportunities to stand out by teaching essential skills that are currently overlooked.