Recent unemployment numbers are at all-time lows.Many stores and restaurants post “Help Wanted” signs and the U.S. Department of Labor reports there are over 7 million currently open jobs. It seems this is a beautiful business climate for anyone to find a job. However, things can change. Those of us in Career and Technical Education understand broad reporting of positive employment numbers can be misleading. Filling job openings require a match between the employee skill set and job expectations. Many of the unfilled jobs remain open for lack of qualified candidates. Further, the skills required for today's job are increasing.
As educators, we have a responsibility to prepare students for their future and not our past. We need to continually ask questions where the future job opportunities will be and what are the sills requirements of those jobs. Which transferable skills will give students the best options to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing workforce? Finally, reflecting on our programs and teaching by asking, “Are we emphasizing the right skills in our CTE programs?”
Recent research by the World Economic Forum provides interesting insight into global trends and prediction for where the jobs will be and skill sets required. The Future of Jobs Report 2018 examines technological changes and how business and education should adapt to provide meaningful work, good paying jobs and strong economies the world. Source of the data Is from surveys of thousands of employers representing over 50 million employees. For educators, the information on rapid growth in various occupations along with growing and declining skillset give us information to factor into CTE.
Some forecasts project that advances in automation will result in the wholesale replacement of the human workforce. The integration of automation will not be consistent across occupations. The report predicts which career fields will have the most significant shift in human work to machine work. The job function with the most substantial shift to machine work (automation) are:
- Information and data processing
- Looking for and receiving job-related information
- Performing complex and technical activities
- Identifying and evaluating job-relevant information
- Performing physical and manual work activities
Routine job functions can be more easily automated. Those jobs which require creativity and complex thinking are better accomplished by humans, as long as they have the requisite thinking and problem-solving skills.
The report identifies the top ten skills in demand by 2022.
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning and learning strategies
- Creativity, originality, and initiative
- Technology design and programming
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Complex problem-solving
- Leadership and social influence
- Emotional intelligence
- Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation
- Systems analysis and evaluation
Again, the report emphasized thinking creativity and continued learning. As students acquire technical skills through CTE, it is essential to prepare them for the rapidly changing world with advanced thinking and problem-solving skills. The report also provides a breakdown of data by industry sectors and regions or nations of the world.