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Over the last six months, the pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live and work – forcing organizations to turn to digital tools to mitigate challenges posed by the suddenly remote working world. In fact, a new McKinsey study found that 85% of C-suite executives reported a significant acceleration of digitization and automation during the pandemic.
As a result of this explosion, the demand for digital skills, specifically in automation and artificial intelligence (AI), is also skyrocketing. According to the World Economic Forum, “at least 133 million new jobs generated as a result of the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms may emerge globally by 2022.”
To bridge this gap, it’s becoming increasingly more important that higher education institutions infuse automation and AI skills development into their current curriculum. Otherwise, future workforces won’t be adequately prepared to operate alongside the digital tools that are becoming more prevalent in the workplace. Plus, students entering any business discipline who are unfamiliar with automation and AI will be at a serious disadvantage.
Here’s how universities and technology vendors can work together to ensure everyone is ready for the future of work.
How Higher Education Currently Tackles the Future of Work
Some higher education institutions have already recognized their role in solving for the current skills gaps and are beginning to incorporate advanced technologies into their programs. For example, California State Fullerton’s accounting department is investing in the next generation of professionals by offering undergraduate and graduate courses focused on the applications of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in accounting. Participating students receive invaluable hands-on experience writing scripts for automation and creating bots to perform their own daily tasks. Similarly, the College of William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business has committed to providing automation software to every undergraduate business student. As a result, the college is enabling 800 business students to become experts on developing and deploying automation solutions early on in their academic careers – skills that will be vital to them when they enter the workforce.
Additionally, Revature – the largest employer of entry-level technology talent in the U.S. – has created a nationwide university partnership network to develop the most in-demand technology skills. The organization provides training and certification courses to students, arming them with the soft and hard skills needed to successfully launch a career in tech. Recognizing the importance of automation and AI skills, the company recently committed to recruit, train, certify, and place new graduates from its network of more than 700 university and college partners to fulfill enterprise customer needs for certified RPA developers and professionals. Not only do these types of programs help support skills development and ensure students have success in post-grad job placements, they also create a competitive advantage for universities and colleges, positioning them as innovative institutions that truly invest in their students’ futures.
How Technology Vendors Can Drive Skills Development
To make this a reality for every educational institution across the globe, technology vendors must make their platforms more accessible to the masses. The democratization of automation and AI technology is essential to ensuring the technology is used for the benefit of society, and that every individual has access to the skills needed to be employable and able to thrive in the future of work.
Technology vendors can contribute to this goal by collaborating with higher education and training organizations to offer resources – both in terms of expert training and certification programs, as well as actual access to the technology – that will ensure any student can master critical digital tools. In addition, technology vendors should be providing their own training programs to anyone interested, further expanding the opportunity for individuals to upskill themselves to become even more employable, as well as join a growing community of certified professionals who have the qualified skillsets to deliver high-impact value across industries.
The pandemic has triggered a dramatic rethink in the way organizations work, and in turn, emphasized the important role of automation and AI in enhancing efficiency and productivity. By working together to educate today’s students about these tools, universities and technology vendors can help close the current skills gap and better prepare everyone for the future of work.