Many students engage with university-level and advanced education in the hopes of gaining knowledge and skill that will make them competitive members of the workforce. Indeed, education is an essential component of preparing for the workplace, but as technology continues to advance at a break-neck pace, many students are beginning to wonder: How much technology expertise is necessary to excel in the modern workplace? What’s more, how much do students today need to engage with emerging technologies to maintain relevance as workers throughout their careers?
Some Students Need to Engage With Advanced Tech Before Entering the Workforce
The answer is complicated and depends largely on an individual student’s career ambitions — but, ultimately, yes, students benefit greatly from gaining knowledge and skill with emerging and evolving technologies before they end their academic careers and enter the workforce.
No advice applies equally to all students. Certainly, there are some groups of students who do not have much need for the ability to understand and utilize cutting-edge tech; as workers, these students might solely rely on manual and creative skills for which supportive technology is unnecessary and unavailable. However, because most students cannot be certain about their career trajectories, it is generally best for every student to develop some degree of technological knowledge and skill — and for students who are confident that they are destined for professional spaces where technology experience is critical, engaging with the latest and greatest tech offerings could offer competitive advantages during the recruitment process.
While some ability to anticipate and adapt to emerging technologies is widely beneficial, not every student needs to have hard skills associated with progressive tech. Fortunately, there are a few different ways students can engage with the technologies of tomorrow while in the classroom today. Some universities offer courses on emerging technologies, which students should take as electives to become familiar with possible tech developments in the coming years. Students can also join extracurricular clubs and communities focused on tech or develop close relationships with tech instructors, who can provide insights into changes to the technology field. In truth, any type of exposure to new technologies during one’s education can help a professional leverage tech effectively throughout their career.
Some Professionals Can Still Enhance Their Understanding of Advanced Technologies
Knowledge and skill in the technologies of tomorrow are not reserved only for young students still stuck in school. Professionals long outside of the classroom can avoid becoming obsolete as a result of the innate technological expertise of younger generations of workers by engaging with trainings, short courses, seminars and other opportunities to experience and learn about new tech.
Online short courses are some of the best ways for busy professionals to engage with advanced and emerging technologies. For example, many online artificial intelligence courses are structured for executives to better understand how AI functions in a business setting and how to integrate AI into effective business strategy. Many such courses are led by some of the world’s leading tech experts at top universities, and because the courses take place online, professionals can take advantage of the lower cost and higher convenience to fit continuing education into their busy schedules.
Unlike students on college campuses, who tend to be bombarded with new and exciting ideas every day, professionals might not know when emerging technologies are worth their time and attention. At present, technologies with the highest potential to impact professionals in the workplace include:
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning
- Virtual and augmented reality
- Network and information security
- Exascale, quantum and optical computing
- Radio-frequency identification
To ensure that professionals stay connected to information about the latest cutting-edge tech innovations, those in industry might subscribe to technology-focused blogs or journals that release stories about the latest and greatest developments in the tech field. Then, when an intriguing new technology emerges, professionals can investigate and gain applicable knowledge and skill for their business roles.
School does not exist only as a means of preparing students for the workforce, but still many students hope to utilize their time in the classroom to accrue the competencies that will help them thrive throughout their careers. By dedicating some time and effort in education to emerging technologies, students will have the knowledge and skill to utilize such tech if and when it develops sufficiently to find applications in the workplace.