There is a tremendous amount of conversation around future jobs and the changing nature of work. As rapid advances in technology reshape the workforce with the potential to eliminate certain jobs, the need to address education, training and job opportunity becomes more pressing every day.
Current predictions state that we will face a shortage of five million workers with the necessary education and training to meet future job demand. A recent study from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute states that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. Further, 35 percent of the job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree with growing opportunities in healthcare, community service and STEM related fields.
It can be overwhelming to think about closing the widening gap between education and skills among our workforce and the looming, unknown changes that artificial intelligence and automation will bring to today’s traditional jobs. However, as technology fuels this seismic shift, it also holds the promise to drive solutions for an evolving workforce – specifically as it relates to access to education and training.
Online education has steadily grown in enrollment and adoption as a powerful modality for skills mastery and degree completion. With more than 28,000 students, ASU Online has seen a 60% increase in enrollment since fall of 2016 and now offers more than 150 degree programs. Many of today’s online courses are carefully designed and linked to real-world application as students look to secure employment in growing fields with the promise of long-term careers. Given that many people are working full or part-time while also developing new skills and completing degrees, the flexibility and accessibility of online programs is indispensable. Online students are often gaining practical knowledge throughout their program that they can be immediately applied on the job making them even more valuable in their current roles.
As online programs continue to expand, students are more closely able to map coursework to their desired field of work as well as areas with promise for future growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a list of the top 30 fastest-growing occupations through 2024. While not all the jobs listed require an undergraduate or graduate degree, earning a degree helps candidates gain a competitive edge when being considered for employment or a promotion.
Specifically, forensic technicians are expected to grow by 26 percent, job growth across nursing fields are expected to grow by 35 percent and web developers are expected to grow by 26.6 percent among a few. These positions, along with so many others, will face evolution (in addition to growth) that will require an educational foundation that anticipates future needs and instills a culture of curiosity and lifelong learning. These traits will form students and professionals that always seek to know more about their field, investigate changes and developments, and continue to grow with their industry.
The unique needs of online students, paired with the necessity of preparing for the jobs of the future, require an education system that can accommodate a wide variety of students and programs. ASU Online tailors its offerings to these needs by enlisting quality faculty and continuing to refine their courses to better serve its student body. The programs faculty are experts in their respective fields, having spent years evolving the skills they teach. The faculty also continues to adapt their courses and techniques in response to the rapid changes occurring in many of their fields, contributing to Arizona State University being ranked as the #1 university in the U.S. for innovation for three straight years.
Arizona State University’s commitment to bettering the fields its students support extends beyond coursework. It’s the responsibility of educational institutions to continue to evolve and support its student’s long-term goals by providing a strong foundation that goes the distance.