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When The Robots Come For Our Jobs, Will They Spare The Liberal Arts Grads? (Forbes)

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

first published in Forbes

A troubling narrative is spreading fast in our tech-obsessed national discourse. As the labor market tightens and tuition continues to skyrocket, many are starting to view college as an “increasingly anachronistic and risky path.”

Liberal arts programs, in particular, have been a favorite punching bag, with politicians from both sides of the aisle advocating for cutting public funding for liberal arts programs in favor of narrower, career-oriented programs focused on technology and technical training. Forget the liberal arts. Technical skills, not degrees, will be the key to remaining relevant in a robot future. Or so the argument goes.

But this debate presents a false choice between the liberal arts and applied learning. It’s not an either/or proposition but both/and: The most valuable workers now and in the future will be those who can combine technical knowledge with human skills. A new analysis of more than 100 million job postings, résumés and social profiles by the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and the labor market data firm Emsi reveals that employers crave more than just coding or engineering capabilities. Instead, they’re looking for candidates who can pair technical skills with uniquely human skills that will remain resistant to automation in the future.

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