A new survey from Junior Achievement USA (JA) shows that 77 percent of parents are “concerned” about their children’s ability to have a successful job or career as adults in light of global competition and automation. The same percentage (77%) of teens said they share similar concerns about having a successful job or career in the future because of global competition and automation. In the survey, nearly half (45%) of parents said that they were “extremely or very” concerned about their children’s prospects for future employment, while almost as many teens (40%) had the same level of concern.
We interviewed Jack Kosakowski, CEO of Junior Achievement USA, to find out how students and their parents can prepare for a constantly evolving job market.
With automation and global competition increasing, what can high school and college students do to become more competitive?
It’s important that students consider the importance of being adaptable. Many of the jobs that they will be doing in the future haven’t even been conceived of yet. Employers are looking for candidates who are creative problem solvers, able to collaborate with others and communicate effectively. Students should also look at opportunities to acquire new skills after high school. Even if they don’t plan to go to college, community colleges, technical schools and apprenticeship programs are valuable for preparing for in-demand jobs.
Which jobs are most likely to be automated or off-shored?
Jobs that are repetitive or that require little training are most likely to be eliminated by automation or off-shoring. If you go to a store or a restaurant, you will see a growth in self-service kiosks, which is reducing the need for cashiers and wait staff. Many warehouses are starting to become fully automated, reducing the number of employees needed to fill orders. If it’s a job you can get today with just a high school diploma or GED that doesn’t involve physical labor, like construction, there’s a pretty good chance that it will be automated in the future.
What industries or jobs are good picks for those wishing to have a secure career?
There’s tremendous demand for jobs in skilled-trades, like welding, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, etc. These are jobs that won’t be off-shored and can’t be cost-effectively replaced with automation. There is also great demand in the medical field at all levels, ranging from lab technicians to nurses to doctors. As the U.S. population ages, demand will only grow for health care workers. Finally, occupations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) will continue to be in demand as reliance on technology grows.
Are there any essential soft skills that today’s young adults need to develop in order to be competitive in the ever-changing job market?
Absolutely. As I mentioned previously, employers are seeking out employees with so-call “soft skills,” like communications, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. If you have these skills, it is easier to adapt to a changing workplace. If employees have these skills, employers are more inclined to invest in the technical training necessary for their long-term success.
How can schools and parents help ensure career success for today’s students?
A recent study by Microsoft indicates that within 10 years, 77 percent of jobs are going to require some sort of technical training. That doesn’t necessary mean a four-year degree. There are plenty of options for post-secondary education and training, including community colleges, technical and trade schools and apprenticeships. It’s important to encourage young people to consider all of their options and not just set their sights on one or, worse, none.
For more information about Junior Achievement USA, visit ja.org