Artificial Intelligence causes — An Arts Education Revolution?

News flashes abounded this week after not only the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, but the LinkedIn Workforce Report showed interesting fluctuations in hiring trends. Despite the job creation expectation not reaching its projections, notable shifts in the industry arenas where hiring was strongest are glaringly high contrast.

Parallel to the jobs data announcement, a graffiti spray of articles leapt across screens decrying the need for 120 Million workers globally in the world’s 12 largest economies needing retraining due to the infiltration of #AI into the workforce. That’s right dear readers: the robots are coming for your jobs. And they don’t pay taxes.

Some of the key headlines are below:

IBM Study: The Skills Gap is Not a Myth, But Can Be Addressed with Real Solutions — IBM

120 million workers will need to be retrained due to AI, says IBM study — CNET

More Robots mean 120 Million Workers Need to be Retrained — Bloomberg

However, while the pundit-tree seeks to keep all eyes on STEM and/or STEAM, each and every successive article manages to effectively bury the lede, which is hinted at in LinkedIn’s report, and quite clearly borne out in the IBM explanation. The graphic below is from their text:

Note that — with the advent and especially the expansion of AI, “Technical core capabilities for STEM” have dropped from 1st place in terms of criticality for employers to 6th. “Basic computer and software/application skills” have sunk from a tie with STEM skills for 1st down to 8th. “Industry or occupation specific skills” — surely these remain important? Swing and a miss: they went from 11th down to dead last in 12th place in terms of importance.

What, then, is important in today’s business environment? The following is in lock step with the BLS report, the Workforce Report, and IBM’s analysis:

Foreign Language Skills jumped from dead last upward two slots.

Analytics skills and business acumen went from 8th place up three.

Time management skills and ability to prioritize rose from 7th to 2nd place.

Capacity for innovation and creativity rose from 9th to 7th place.

Ability to work effectively in team environments went from 5th to 3rd place.

And the #1 skill was a willingness to be flexible, agile, and adaptable to change.

In fact, the top five employable skills in the AI era are: flexibility/agility, prioritization (or, part of critical thinking,) teaming (lets say: interpersonal relations,) communication, and critical analysis (again, there’s that thinking part.) Every single one of the things in the top five list is something not taught in STEM curricula. Nor a business degree (hiring in the finance arena saw a .6% decrease from the same period last year.) If we stretch out to the top 10, “ethics and integrity” is also on the list. Interestingly, the bulk of the top ten are included in the requirements for the PMP certification.

In sum, the most desirable skill sets for the individuals hiring in the era of AI, and for the foreseeable future are in a different curricular plan than what has been up to now the sole topic of conversation in the Education arena. Learning and Development will have their hands full with upskilling, reskilling, and redeploying resources as organizational needs experience tectonic shifts. This trend has history, as indicated by the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, and now, a whole lot more data.

Currently, there is a business case for a more liberal arts education, there is a defined need from employers, and this appears to be a trend the further into AI we traverse, pointed up by the inimitable Jack Ma when he spoke at Davos in 2018:

“[we need to teach our children] values, believing, independent thinking, teamwork, care for others,…knowledge will not teach you that…Everything we teach should be different from machines….The things we teach our kids are things from the past 200 years, it’s knowledge based. We cannot teach our kids to compete with machines, they are smarter. We have to teach something unique so that machines can never catch up with us.”

We know what to do, we even know how to do it, and there is a business case for getting it done. Let’s get going!

Leadership is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store