April 25, 2018 –

The United States educational system gets a failing grade for not updating curricula and training for teachers to prepare America’s youth in artificial-intelligence skills.

America’s educators rank just ninth among all nations in terms of preparing students for the real world of automation, according to a study released by a research group associated with The Economist magazine.


Needed skills

The report points out the demand for soft skills in critical thinking and science and technology skills will skyrocket. But America’s youth is not being prepared for automation.

With the rapid changes in technology, Americans will need to be flexible and constantly improving their skills. That will require a strong background in artificial-intelligence techniques, computational thinking and robotics.

Naturally, this doesn’t bode well for the future of the U.S. workforce nor for the careers of young people.

Better soft skills will be needed for solving problems that robots cannot. Additionally. it’s already generally accepted that America’s young people aren’t adequately learning science and technology skills.

The U.S. isn’t alone. Only a relatively few countries are updating their curricula and training for teachers.

“Very few countries are taking the bull by the horns when it comes to adapting education systems for the age of automation,” Saadia Zahidi, head of education, gender and employment for the World Economic Forum, says in the report.

“Those that are have long had a clear focus on human capital development. These are countries in northern Europe and the Nordic region, as well as Singapore,” she adds.

“No one has gotten to grips with the required strategic planning for educational change in this context, and there is a dire need for it,” says Rose Luckin, professor of learning-centred design at the University College London.

Misguided priorities

“America is overinvesting in traditional higher education – it spends a much higher share of GDP than do other countries but gets too little return on these resources,” says Peter Morici, Ph.D. “Employers report that 4 in 10 graduates lack the critical thinking skills necessary for entry-level professional work, and too often four years of college adds little to students’ analytical abilities,” he adds.

Dr. Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland Smith School of Business, former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, and five-time winner of the MarketWatch best forecaster award. (See his economic forecasts here.)

He says higher education’s priorities are ill-advised.

“Universities are pouring millions in attractive amenities and big time sports. Students spend about one-third less time in class and studying than in the 1960s but have plenty of leisure to demonstrate against alleged micro aggression, sexism and racism of conservative professors and engage in social activism enabled by university presidents bent on molding intolerant liberals.”
-Dr. Morici

“Universities are pouring millions in attractive amenities and big time sports. Students spend about one-third less time in class and studying than in the 1960s but have plenty of leisure to demonstrate against alleged micro aggression, sexism and racism of conservative professors and engage in social activism enabled by university presidents bent on molding intolerant liberals,” he asserts.

Economist’s solutions

Dr. Morici advocates redirecting federal and state funding from higher education to encourage more innovative programs in apprenticeships.

“The Department of Labor certifies apprenticeship programs. Usually completed in well less than four years, those generally offer about $15 an hour while students take courses and get hands-on experience,” says the economist. “On completion, 87 percent of students are in positions that pay an average of $60,000 a year – for college graduates the average is about $50,000 and subtracting the above-mentioned skills-based majors, the college average is a lot less.”

He supports a jobs initiative by President Trump.

“About two-thirds of apprenticeships are in construction and manufacturing, but President Trump sees great opportunity in the service sector and has doubled the DOL budget for cultivating apprenticeships. Private actors like Wells Fargo, professional services firm Aon PLC and the National Restaurant Association are building out programs,” he says.

“In the tech sector, Course Report connects students to some 95 coding schools – those annually matriculate about 23,000 graduates through programs that last about 14 weeks, cost about $11,000 and place graduates in jobs with starting salaries averaging nearly $71,000,” Dr. Morici says.

“Through the online portal Coursera, Google offers an 8-to-12 month IT Support Professional Certificate program that connects graduates with employers like Bank of America, Walmart and GE Digital,” he adds.

“More formalized schools are emerging like Holberton School in San Francisco, which trains software and operations engineers in two years and the fees are 17 percent of students’ internship and first three years post-graduation earnings,” he points out.

Leading countries

Back to the automation readiness report – its “automation readiness” index in education policies indicates the leading countries include Canada, Estonia and the United Kingdom.

The leading nations have made artificial intelligence a priority and teachers have been well-trained for the demands of automation.

Some nations have begun experimentation on methods to fund lifelong learning.

For instance, Singapore grants its citizens $500 in lifelong learning accounts. The money is earmarked for training by training firms sponsored by the government.

Finally, we’ve heard a lot of discourse in America about artificial intelligence, automation and robotics. But comparatively very little has been accomplished.

The onus is on U.S. leaders in public policy, educators and businesses to implement education and training programs Americans can use.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant articles:

Future of the Workplace: Robots Making Business ‘Smarter’ — If there was ever a need for people to become expert in technology and learn senior-management skills, the time is now. Non-exempt, lower-level jobs are disappearing. New software “robots” in numerous industries are increasingly taking over and making business “smarter,” according to senior-level managers who responded to a survey.

Artificial Intelligence: How to Maximize Your ROI — You will maximize your return on investment in AI with these strategies.

Seattle Tech Recruiter Provides Career Advice, Makes Prediction — As tech companies watch the debate in Congress on visas, one fact remains: They still need skilled workers. Here are insights from a tech recruiter.

Solution to Cure Worker Skills Gaps, Underemployment — An innovative solution has been unveiled to solve a big economic conundrum. The solution is designed to create 25 million new jobs and help grow the economy by 4 percent.

“Artificial intelligence is growing up fast, as are robots whose facial expressions can elicit empathy and make your mirror neurons quiver.”

-Diane Ackerman


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.