There is so much discussion about how to ‘fix’ the higher education issue and most proposed solutions are based on individuals’ personal past experiences; hardly the best way to address a problem that will evolve in 5 -10 years in an unprecedented way.
At least now we accept that it is difficult to define the impact of artificial intelligence and technological advancements to the job market. Still though we remain romantic about the importance of higher education at any cost.
Those with a university degree have higher earnings than those who don’t have one, the facts suggest. However, what worked in the past though doesn’t mean that it will work in the future.
There are a few people who have advocate about the value of internships. It will not solve the issue of Artificial Intelligence but it is at least an alternative to the almost only option that currently exists for young people (universities).
The reaction to even this proposal is visceral. How do you dare suggesting that people should not get higher education? It is easily labelled as an attempt to reduce social mobility. The response that an internship might not work for everyone but some people can find it a better way forward gets hardly noticed. People still believe that it is better to have a university degree, a large enough debt and a low paid job rather than…
Internships might be an option for some in the short-term. It is not though the solution of the bigger problem of the future of higher education.
Those who do the mistake to suggest that higher education (at least in its current form) might not be relevant in the (even near) future fast regret it. They are considered the ‘enemies of the people”.
Thinking critically and making your own decisions about your future is easier said than done because you have to live with the consequences of your own decisions; good or bad. It is more comfortable to do what everybody else is doing even if it is wrong (We saw this during the subprime mortgage crisis) because you are not singled out as the one who made a wrong choice.
Higher education is discussed like it is the end of the journey, although it is only the beginning. Despite the plethora of university degrees, employers complain that they cannot find employees with relevant skills.
I personally don’t expect politicians to take a meaningful stand on this because there is a lot at stake (primarily their re-election). They will prefer to have the debate about tuition fees (shall we freeze them for X number of years or even reduce them a bit or a lot?). It is going to be definitely a votes- grabber initiative.
I don’t expect the universities to take the lead either. They have so many vested interests in the current status quo.
The big corporations which already now clearly state that they cannot find skilled employees are not necessarily trusted.
So, who is best suited to prepare the society for the new norm?
Or is it more convenient to adopt the lets-kick-the-can approach?
The bottom line: Artificial intelligence will change the landscape of employment and higher education. It is unclear though how the society needs to get prepared for the new norm.
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. This problem will not get away. At some point, we will have to face it. Your views might help shape the response.
Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She passionately believes in empowering people to make informed decisions about their career and their finances. She is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her limited spare time, she wants to join forces with others to help everybody to be a better version of themselves.