- Only 22% of American adults say they agree colleges are adequately preparing their graduates "for future jobs involving technology," according to a recent report from Gallup and Northeastern University that looks at how the U.S. and other countries are preparing for artificial intelligence's impact.
- Surveyed Americans ranked on-the-job training as their preferred mode of education if AI renders their skills obsolete. In-person programs offered by traditional colleges or universities came next, followed by accelerated courses and online education.
- Around two-thirds of U.S. respondents cited the cost of education (65%) and lack of time (61%) as barriers to seeking more training. Other top concerns included the "inability to pursue education or retraining while working" (43%), "difficulty competing with others" with in-demand skills (26%) and lack of knowledge around what skills are needed (27%).
Predictions vary over how dramatically AI will change jobs as it gains a greater foothold in the workplace. While some reports suggest the emerging tech will displace up to 30% of workers around the globe, others contend it will create millions more jobs than it will destroy.
However, most surveyed Americans (71%) said they believed in the opposite: AI eliminating more jobs than it will create. Even so, just 17% of U.S. workers reported they were either "somewhat" or "very" worried AI would take over their jobs, falling from 23% who said the same in 2017.
Out of the three countries polled by the survey — Canada, the United Kingdom and the U.S. — Americans were the least likely to consider going to school to gain new skills. One reason behind that, the report suggests, could be that Americans also had the lowest levels of confidence in their country's universities to prepare workers for today's jobs.
The results highlight the work cut out for colleges and universities. "Partnering with governments and businesses to provide affordable, relevant, bite-sized, lifelong education to workers in all three countries could restore confidence, not just for higher education, but for the other institutions as well," the report's authors write.
To meet that challenge, colleges and universities are exploring new ways to make their programs more relevant for adults seeking retraining. The National University System, for instance, announced its new workforce development unit that will link education to industry needs, as well as reduce costs for workers seeking to reskill.
And in April, Arizona State University launched a for-profit entity named InStride, which is designed to build partnerships with corporations to train their employees in specific job skills. Around the same time, Purdue University announced it was partnering with two major corporations to develop custom training for their workers.