Robots may not take our jobs, but technology is changing what we do, which means employment is growing in the roles that are hardest to automate. Ground breaking research reveals how the human skills required to do these roles are hugely under-supplied.
And while today’s jobs require us to use our heads, rather than our hands, something new is also happening. PISA is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment. PISA measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.
PISA reports don’t just focus on academic skills and which county’s students can read and write. They also give an insight into what students think about the future, what careers they aspire and dream of.
With some 600,000 students surveyed the results are fascinating and have significant impact on how career expectations have changed over time and what we know about the future of jobs.
Here are a few insights that I found thought provoking.
When asked what career 600,000 15-year-old students in 79 countries wanted to pursue, the list was surprisingly limited to 10 or so careers regardless of where they lived or their economic status. It seems kids everywhere have similar career expectations.
What is remarkable is that these careers are traditional ones, something their grandparents would have aspired to. This concentration of students’ career expectations raises questions about the extent to which young people are aware of the availability of current and future jobs, and the real threat to these “traditional” careers.
The careers students dream of are not predominately STEM or technology careers. In many ways, it seems that labour market signals are failing to reach young people with accessible, well-paying jobs with a future do not seem to reach or capture the imagination of teenagers. Many young people anticipate pursuing jobs that are at high risk of being automated.
So how do we encourage students to think about future careers?
Career counsellors, higher educators and industry leaders need to focusing on future growth and recognise that many jobs will undergo significant change and identify these jobs early to students so that a more informed decision can be made.
The surveys show that too many teenagers are ignoring or are unaware of new types of jobs that are emerging, particularly as a result of digitalization and the risk that the jobs young people expect to be pursuing at age 30 will become automated.
Higher educators can help young people develop a better understanding of the relationship between education, economics, employment and jobs of the future and broaden their aspirations to a new generation of careers and occupations.