Education in the Age of Agility

We are in the Age of Agility, an exciting, unsettling time in our nation’s history.

Going forward, workers and businesses alike will have to adapt continuously to rapidly changing circumstances, caused by the accelerating adoption of automation and artificial intelligence.

This has huge implications for Colorado, which has struggled over the years to produce enough skilled workers to fill available jobs, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Now, on the heels of the Centennial State for a second Amazon headquarters and its 50,000 well-paying jobs, this challenge has become the focus of renewed attention. Amazon has said that it hopes to choose a city with high-quality and equitable STEM education opportunities.

Even without Amazon, by 2020 55 percent of Colorado jobs will require technology skills. But the state produces only about 500 computer science post-secondary graduates annually. Businesses are being forced, at significant expense, to seek qualified employees elsewhere.

This new age can offer great benefits to individuals and businesses, or it can displace hundreds of thousands, even millions of workers over the next couple of decades. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimates 38 percent of U.S. jobs will be automated by 2030. To put that in context, sixth graders today will be entering their prime working lives then.

And despite popular misconceptions, it’s not just jobs on factory floors or in fast food restaurants that are at risk. Truck drivers, radiologists, even lawyers could find their jobs disappearing. White- and blue-collar careers alike are vulnerable, though lower-paying jobs are likely to vanish first and in greater numbers.

This piece originally appeared in the Denver Business Journal. Click here to read the entire op-ed.

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