The coming decade will be defined by the largest workforce transition in the history of mankind. Millions of jobs will be lost to technology, while millions of new jobs will be created. Perhaps more importantly, the vast majority of remaining jobs will be transformed and applicants with robotics literacy and strong tech skills will have a significant advantage when applying for jobs across virtually all industries.
It's not just that "we'll need more roboticists" (although that is definitely true)... ALL our students need to be gaining robotics literacy and stronger STEM skills.
To understand how technology will impact the workforce, view the video below, or scroll down and keep reading...
When considering the impact that robotics and artificial intelligence will have on society, we can draw a strong parallel between the robotics industry and the computer industry in the 1980's.
Back in the 80's, programming was significantly more difficult than today, there weren't many programmers, and the industry existed as a highly specialized silo. Programmers would create applications for specific industries and purposes (such as banking, health care or accounting), and everyone was impressed with the improved productivity, reliability and workflow.
Looking back, we all would have said, "we'll need more programmers in the future". And while that statement would have proven to be true, what would have been missed was the much larger implication - that everyone would need computer literacy.
The same is true of the robotics industry today. When we consider the increased productivity, reliability and benefits of robotics, we would likely all agree that "we'll need more roboticists in the future", but in reality the impact will be much more profound and far reaching.
It took the computer industry 30 years to go from being a silo industry to the point where computer literacy is a required skill for a significant number of jobs. The robotics industry will make that same journey in less than 10 years, because we don't have need to shrink a mainframe from the size of a building down to fitting within your pocket. The hard work has been done, and robotics and artificial intelligence will begin to impact the workforce at an increasingly rapid rate.
There are some staggering projections about the number of jobs that technology will eliminate - approximately 50 million jobs in North America within the next 10 years, and up to 800 million globally. There will also be millions of new jobs created during that same time. However, the reality is that many of these new jobs will be reserved for applicants with strong STEM skills and robotics knowledge.
Aside from the obvious jobs that are impacted robotics and AI, let's look at a few examples of careers that you might not immediately think would be impacted. These are all jobs that wouldn't typically be classified as "high-tech", but will become increasingly technical, over the coming years.
- The Education System -
Much like the rest of the workforce, the skill gap within education revolves around "high-tech". As workforce demand for high-tech skills grows over the next decade, schools will increasingly be looking for teachers who can help educate students to meet those needs.
Schools already employ teachers who are proficient at core subject areas like Math and English, but many schools have limited numbers of teachers who are comfortable teaching technologies like robotics and coding.
It's important to understand that teaching itself is not intrinsically a "high-tech career", but for the next 5-7 years, the largest segment of new-hires will be tech teachers.
- Big Box Stores – Management
Stores such as Lowes and Walmart are spending millions of dollars developing customer service robots, warehouse robots and maintenance robots. These technologies change the workflow and potential of each store. Now, imagine that you're a regional director hiring a new manager for one of your stores; do you hire the applicant that understands robotics, or one that doesn't? If you want to rise to the top of the retail profession, you'll likely need robotics knowledge.
- Food and Hospitality -
Robotic coffee shops have begun popping up in Europe and the USA. These robotic baristas serve up a wide range of specialty coffees that are consistent and customers will be able to customize orders to their specific taste
Within the restaurant industry, robotic servers and chefs are going to become increasingly common. People who work in these establishments will need to have the skills to deal with robotics.
There is a hotel in Japan that is run by only 10 staff, with all other functions being performed by robots.
- Fashion Design -
3D printing and robotics are two of the most important skills that employers are looking for now
Once we consider the significant impact that robotics and AI will have on our workforce and society, it's then important to consider how we prepare our students for this transformation.
We've demonstrated robotics to more than 18,000 students, and spoken with more than 20,000 educators about robotics, so we have a pretty good handle on the full breadth of robotics education, and here's what we see:
The majority of high schools don't offer any robotics programs, and the ones that do offer robotics are typically offering robotics as a club. Enrollment is historically less than 3% of the overall student population, with 90 - 95% of those students being boys. This takes into account all existing robotics platforms that are used in high schools. Within Middle Schools and Junior High Schools, enrollment will typically be higher, but it's still rarely above 15%, again significantly skewed towards boys.
If we accept the fact that all students will need robotics literacy within the next decade, but only 3% of our graduates will have any robotics knowledge, we are effectively saying that 97% of our students will graduate from high school without a key literacy when looking for work.
Simply put, we're on the brink of a skills gap of unprecedented proportions. And within a global economy, if our students lack the necessary skills to claim the new or evolved jobs, then those jobs will be fulfilled by people in other countries/states/cities.
It's going to get highly competitive
In late 2019, the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement that will see more than 1,300 Artificial Intelligence Labs built in Primary and Secondary Schools across the country. Projecting forward 5 years, the UAE will have a substantial advantage over other nations who have not adopted this type of education.
With all of this said, its important to understand that this doesn't need to become a crisis. It simply requires us to address the situation head on, and to change how we are educating our youth.
In an ideal scenario, computer science and tech education would become mandatory, but until that happens, it's important to look at how we can increase engagement within the general student populations.
We've worked with hundreds of schools and organizations, and using our strategies, we can consistently achieve engagement levels of 90% at the middle school level and up to 50% in high schools, with a relatively equal split between girls and boys. To put that in real world terms; we can help schools increase girl enrollment from 3/1000 to 400/1000. The coming decade will see unprecedented change in the workforce and society. If you're looking to bring engaging robotics and coding education to your students, we'd be happy to assist.
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