How Can Colleges Prepare Students for Jobs That Don't Exist Yet?

College is supposed to be a time when students can prepare for their future careers. But if their career paths might lead them to jobs that don't even exist yet, how are colleges supposed to be able to get them ready?

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By Jessica Lyons

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Students Lacking in Skills?

In a recent editorial that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffrey Selingo, the publication's editorial director, said that students might be 'ill prepared for the creative forces that will define the global economy in the future.' As the world continues to make advancements in areas like technology or science, new jobs will crop up that employers will need to hire for. However, these jobs could prove more difficult to fill since they might require particular skills that potential employees haven't even thought of or developed yet. It can be difficult for schools to focus their programs on developing all the skills one could need in the future if they don't know what all of those skills will be.

How to Fill in the Gaps

As Selingo wrote, 'It's been widely reported that many of the best jobs of tomorrow don't even exist today, so the successful colleges of the future will be those that graduate students who have the imagination to figure things out.' But exactly how can colleges get their students to that point?

One way could be by getting students more excited about the actual process of learning. Instead of just having students learn for the sake of getting the right answer and the passing grade they need, educators need to encourage students to think about the satisfaction they can get from the learning process. They can then relate it to the joy these students could achieve later on in life if they use these same learning skills to help them solve tasks or problems in their future careers. Even if something comes up in a new career field that a student has never come across, they could be confident that the learning process they once used in school can aid them in going through the steps to handle new challenges.

It's also important that schools emphasize the development of critical thinking skills. Whenever possible, professors should incorporate assignments or projects into their classes that force students to come up with their own opinions and ideas. This could encourage students to go beyond the thoughts of other people that they may find in their textbooks. Being able to look at things critically will certainly aid them in yet-to-be-created jobs that they might find themselves in.

Instilling a love of learning in students could also make a big difference when they're faced with figuring out how to handle completely new job assignments. If they already enjoy learning new things, instead of being thrown off by a never-before-seen job, they might instead rise to the challenge and be excited about the opportunity to do something new and figure out how to best accomplish all of the responsibilities.

While the facts are important, for students to be successful in the future they're going to have to go beyond just what's contained in textbooks and learn how to be independent thinkers and problem-solvers. Higher education institutions can play an important role in this by making sure their degree programs also help students develop these important qualities and thus better prepare them for jobs - whether they already exist or not.

Are you looking to develop new skills that might be beneficial in the workplace? Check out these helpful free education resources.

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