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Part of Western Governors University

October 29, 2018

Career Development

The future of work.

How does education change to fit the new workforce?

Robots, machines, automation—these are all terms used as we look at the future of work. Different, and a little daunting, large corporations and industry leaders have been having these conversations for a while as they discuss what the future looks like.

woman working on a laptop, wearing headphones

More importantly, how do educators adapt to the needs of the changing landscape of the workforce without being left behind? Education and problem solving will quickly become a larger approach for individuals planning to enter the workforce.

In the first episode of the New World of Work podcast from the McKinsey Global Institute, MGI Chairman and Director James Manyika spoke about the changing landscape of work, how jobs that involved data gathering, data processing, or physical work are going to decline, but other job opportunities will increase because they will be harder to automate. “In order for people to keep up, adapt, and work alongside effectively with highly capable machines, they will require a very different set of skills. So, the skill transitions are going to be quite substantial.”

How will learning institutions prepare their students for the future of automation? Higher education institutions everywhere will need to restructure their curriculum and course requirements to transition to a stronger relationship with industries to create a better connection.

The changing nature of work has brought a sharper focus to the need of learners today, both traditional and nontraditional,” said Chancellor Spencer Stewart of WGU Nevada. “WGU Nevada, and other institutions, will need to place higher emphasis on workforce specific labels so we are focusing more on where people are learning. It used to be learning could happen on campus, but now the realization is learning can occur in every sphere. And perhaps the number one, most complementary, is the workplace sphere.”

There will need to be a more direct pathway from education to career, with both spheres overlapping. Educators will be responsible for adequately supplying the proper skills for direct career options—this is only possible through constant collaboration and communication with local industry leaders.

WGU was designed to disrupt the traditional education model, and provide something new to students, especially working students. Due to that early mission, WGU has been responsible for focusing on workplace development and a direct pathway to careers. In doing so, WGU has shaped their curriculum from conversations with industry leaders and working students to plan for that changing landscape.

In an interview with Whitney Johnson from her Podcast, Disrupt Yourself, President of WGU Scott Pulsipher said, “WGU was fundamentally designed around three simple things, and one of those was  how do you improve the quality of that education, so that it increases or tightens the link, if you will, to higher learning and opportunity outcomes? By opportunity we [mean] jobs and income gains and employment opportunities and overall well-being.” With this ultimate goal in mind when creating WGU, the online university has been preparing for the workforce education shift for some time.

Stay tuned for future blog posts about this topic, as WGU Nevada delves into the changes affecting our workforce and how education is the answer for a smooth transition.

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