AI's rise requires schools to prepare students for drastically different workforce

Dive Brief:

  • With the rise of artificial intelligence, schools must now prepare students for an entirely different future workforce than the one that currently exists.
  • While signs point to a significant number of jobs being automated by AI in the future, some experts have suggested that it would be better suited as a complement to human workers rather than a replacement.
  • Compiling advice from a number of AI experts including Carnegie Mellon's Mark Stehlik, EdSurge reported three tips for implementing AI education: demystifying what stage of development AI is in and what it means, recognizing that AI education isn't just for students interested in computer science, and increasing teacher training and curriculum building around the subject.

Dive Insight:

For the last century or so, K-12 education has primarily aimed to prepare high school graduates for work in manufacturing and similar fields. Recent years have seen schools shift away from that historical model toward the idea of "School 2.0," recognizing changes in the labor market. These moves have been largely due to increasing automation of those jobs and a greater need for skilled workers in growing fields like computer science, hence a greater focus on coding and other STEM skills.

Artificial intelligence's projected growth highlights the need for that shift, as it threatens to change the face of the workforce even more drastically. The major players in self-driving car development, for example, are now eyeing automated big rigs, and fully automated restaurants have existed in the U.S. since at least 2015  — a move that would disrupt a popular first job option for high school teens. The upside is that these machines will still need skilled workers to maintain and service them, creating a greater need for high schools to apply more focus to technical skills on top of other curriculum.

Making that shift will require recognition not just at the school and district levels, but at the state and federal policy levels  particularly when it comes to accountability and what students are expected to know. With the Every Student Succeeds Act giving more power to the state and local level, the freedom to make these shifts will likely be there, but it will likely still require resources for things like classroom upgrades as well as teacher training. 

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Filed Under: K12 Technology
Top image credit: IBM