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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Learn ‘agility’ to compete with robots

While schools struggle to teach basic 20th-century skills,  21st-century students will need to compete with robots for work in The Age of Agility, warns a new report by America Succeeds.

“The paper echoes growing fears of a ‘fourth Industrial Revolution’ that could shunt aside blue- and white-collar workers alike in favor of ever-more-capable machines,” writes Kevin Mahnken on The 74.

Nearly half of all American jobs could be threatened by computerization within the next 20 years, concludes a 2013 Oxford study.

“Wholesale implosion of professions like long-haul trucking, paperwork processing, and even auto insurance sales (increasingly obsolete as self-driving vehicles cause fewer road accidents) may lead to millions of displaced workers as soon as 2025,” writes Mahnken.

Workers with only a high school diploma are “likely to be virtually unemployable,” the Age of Agility warns. However, medium- and high-skilled workers will survive, if they’re adaptable.

Interpersonal skills, such as empathy and teamwork, may serve worker better than technical training, the authors predict. Above all, the employable will need to keep re-educating themselves for new challenges we can’t yet imagine.

Education Week‘s Future of Work series looks at what schools could do to prepare students for an uncertain future.

A classical liberal arts education will prepare students for whatever comes, writes Dan Scoggin, founder of the Great Hearts charter network. “In every age of uncertainty, we should double down on the enduring ends of a classical education—the ability to deliberate carefully, see multiple sides of an issue, and exercise sound and decisive judgment. We sometimes call this critical thinking, but the ancients called it wisdom.”

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