Advances in technology have always come at the price of taking jobs, and we can expect them to continue taking even more. “As they say, if horses could have voted, there never would have been cars,” writes Thomas Friedman in his article “Average Is Over.”
But that doesn’t mean everyone should worry that their job will be replaced by technology anytime soon. As history has shown us, we will adapt to new technology by gaining new skillsets, possibly lose more low-level jobs, but still have the need for a human workforce. The reality is that technology is changing this generation of workers’ role in the workforce, by delegating menial tasks to technology and requiring workers to bring something fresh to the table.
“In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over,” writes Friedman. What does an above average worker look like? They are unique. They bring skills and ideas to a company that computers don’t have the capacity to mimic.
Higher education is also key to being successful in this changing economy. It used to be that people could get entry-level jobs straight out of high school, have 20-year careers, and end with a retirement plan. In the last few decades, we’ve seen the average professional spend 4.4 years at each career, their education level increase to a college degree, and an expectation that they will pay for their own retirement.
In Friedman’s article he shares the BLS’s unemployment stats for Americans over 25:
- those with less than a high school degree, 13.8 percent.
- those with a high school degree and no college, 8.7 percent.
- those with some college or associate, 7.7 percent.
- those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 4.1 percent.
What we know about the future is that workers must pursue higher education and refine the skills that make them unique to be in demand. How do you identify your unique skills? How will you stay up with technology? How will you pass along the importance of higher education to your generation, or the next generation?