The choice is yours

In the past, every society has the rich and the poor but today the society is also divided into two more categories: The educated and the uneducated based on the educational differences and employment. In The Fourth Industrial Revolution era, education is critical, and to survive, every people need to have certain knowledge and Skills.

The major change between the Second and Third Industrial Revolution and the Fourth is the transition from product manufacturing to service delivery. Manufacturing depends on the mass factory-assembly production where low-cost labor is the key factor for higher profits. The service delivery depends on the technology to get the products to the customers quicker than competitors to capture the market. With Artificial Intelligence and robots, factories can produce a massive number of products at much lower cost than human labor. The key factor now is faster deliver products to the customers and get higher profits. For example, people do not need to go shopping for products anymore because what they want can be delivered to their home when they need them. With voice recognition technology (Alexa, Google voice) people can tell the device what they want and the smart machine will do all the order and the products can be delivered to their home in a matter of days or even in a few hours (i.e., Amazon will start to delivery by drones next year and guarantee 2 hours delivery for some items. The key success of Amazon is faster delivery than their competitors and make Jeff Bezos the richest people today.)

Because low-cost labors cannot compete with automated machines and robots in the factories. It is predicted by 2025, 75% of manufacturing jobs will be fully controlled by artificial intelligence systems. What happens to human workers? Most of them will be left with fewer jobs or no job at all. What happens to countries that depend on low-cost labor? Their economy may collapse with huge unemployment.

Today with globalization, the business world is connected by a vast amount of information networks. Most jobs require interactions with a computer or other devices such as cell phones etc. Therefore, the knowledge of Information technology (IT) is the basics of everything. Information Technology is no longer about managing computer network or programming applications but it is part of every business. The fact is every business needs to apply technology to survive and compete but there are NOT ENOUGH people who have information technology skills to meet the demand. Even countries such as India and China with over a million graduates each year also have a shortage of IT workers.

The most asked question among high school students is whether they need to study Computer Science, Software Engineering or Information System Management to get a job. The answer is “NO” but whatever field they choose to study, they need to know how to use a computer or similar electronic devices to apply to their work. In another word, most workers of the future must have a good foundation and understanding of technology and they need to read more to follow the trend in the job market so they can adjust quickly. I believe that all education programs should be based on information technology as the basic foundation. There is only “ONE SKILL” that every student will need is the ability to continue to learn and never stop learning.

As students, you should spend the time to read and learn more about global trends to understand what is happening in the job market. We are living in the information world, where events happen and available online in a few minutes. The most disadvantage of the previous generation is they do not have the exposure to these changes in the world and unfamiliar to the globalization trend which seriously limits their ability to act accordingly. But today with the Internet and smartphone, almost everyone can access this information whenever they want. However, it is important for students to select what they need to know so they can follow and develop their knowledge and skills accordingly. Technology is the two-edged sword, it can help you or hurt you depends on how do you use it. You can use it to learn more about what you need for your future career or waste your time on trivial things that have no benefit at all. The choice is yours.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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