OPINION: Change is imminent, and Colleges must be prepared to adapt

If the industrial revolution taught us anything, it’s that disruptive change is inevitable.
If the industrial revolution taught us anything, it’s that disruptive change is inevitable.

A Message from Judith Morris, President & CEO, Lambton College

If the industrial revolution taught us anything, it’s that disruptive change is inevitable.

With the world around us evolving faster than it ever has before, we all need to be prepared to adapt to the changes that are coming our way. Lambton College is no exception to this.

As we navigate what is being referred to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” a rapid pace of merging technologies, digital tools, and breakthroughs, we’ve also had to transform the learning landscape of colleges.

As new technologies emerge, their effects are far-reaching, altering the way we live, how we communicate, and the industries in which we work. As a College working to train the leaders of tomorrow, it’s imperative we greet these impending changes with confidence, high skills training, and flexibility.

If we resist change and fail to adapt, we risk either underestimating the rate of change coming at us, or the magnitude of it. In either scenario, we risk leaving ourselves – and in our case, our graduates – unprepared for the future.

Last year, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), released a report that analyzed the automation potential of the global economy, the factors that will determine the pace and extent of workplace adoption, and the economic impact associated with its potential.

According to MGI’s analysis of more than 2,000 work activities across 800 occupations, about 60 per cent of them have at least 30 per cent potential to be automated by adapting technology that we’re already using.

However, it is important to recognize the opportunities that lie ahead. As with previous revolutions, this one brings with it an abundance of possibilities, which will result in improvements in global income levels and quality of life.

However, there are hurdles.

While automation has the potential to create issues in the job market, where talent and innovation will represent the critical factors in production – more so than money – the Canadian economy is still expected to add 2.4 million jobs over the next four years, all of which will require this new mix of skills, according to a cross-country report released by the Royal Bank of Canada in early 2018.

What does this mean for society? There are a lot of factors at play. Demand for talent, knowledge, and the ability to be creative or entrepreneurial will increase, and higher levels of education will drive these skill sets.

Postsecondary education – college education in particular – will play a key role in preparing people to meet the demands of a world that requires higher level skills.

The College system’s continued success is correlated with the ability to evolve. In the face of this changing world, we will continue to do just that, evolve, offering an education that not only develops the vocational skills required for a specific task or process, but rather, one that also develops the soft skills required to increase communication, digital, numerical, and human relations skills.

It’s these skills that will allow successful employees to meet the challenge of constant change, the very skills that will drive them to be innovative and entrepreneurial.

This digital age requires colleges to have the ability to forecast the skills that will be in demand in a highly automated world.

Those who will thrive in this new revolution, will be those who continue to seek further education – in the form of diplomas, degrees, credentials, in a classroom, online, or even in applied settings, and eventually via hologram or virtual experience. Continued learning will always be necessary, driven by the demands of our changing times.

As we learn to adapt, and even embrace this impending revolution, and look at the gains we’ve made, such as driverless cars, robots that can clean our homes, win Jeopardy, analyze medical information, or find parking spaces, I hope we don’t lose sight of the human component in all of this. In his book titled “Robot Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” author Joseph Aoun refers to these components as “humanics.”

Technology will continue to be the force driving this new world, but it’s humanics, the human connectivity Aoun refers to, that will sustain it.

Our ability to collaborate with others is greater today than it’s ever been. When people care, when people are truly human, magic happens. And if we believe in that magic, as we embrace the new world ahead, we will maintain the best parts of human nature: creativity, mutual respect, empathy, and acceptance.

For media inquiries or more information:

Jami Kloet
Corporate Communications Coordinator
Lambton College
Telephone: 519-542-7751 ext. 3337
Mobile: 519-328-2081
Email: jami.kloet@lambtoncollege.ca

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