The future to come

Today is the last day of classes at Carnegie Mellon University. Some of my students are graduating, others are preparing for their internship or returning home for their summer vacation. Around the world, millions of students are graduating from university and going to work but unfortunately, some are not working in what they have studied and many are not finding a job. After many years of study with high expectation, it is a shocking experience for them that their future is now uncertain and their time in school may be wasted.

Currently, there is a mismatch between what the market demand and what many schools are teaching. The debate about improving the education system is continuing for many years without any real actions, students are continuing to graduate with degrees that have no value in this changing time. In some countries, many college graduates are not employable because they do not have the proper skills because their education system is not keeping up with the changing time. At the same time, there are millions of jobs go unfilled in every country without qualified applicants. Without proper action now, many people in these countries will be unemployable for life.

I have received many emails from parents asking for advice and I have answered them by written many articles about current employment trends as well as the high demand job opportunities. I also find that career planning is not available in some schools and students often do not plan anything until it is too late. Even today, many schools do not provide students with career advice that allows them to select the proper fields of study where they can contribute to their society. Many school advisors are academic people who have limited knowledge about the industrial needs or global trends to help students in their careers. A few years ago, a career advisor told me: “I Just tell them to study Medicine, Dental, and Pharmacy because these are the best careers. The others are up to them whatever they choose.”

Today, at the dawn of the fourth Industrial Revolution, students need more details onvarious careers that are urgently needed in the next ten or twenty years so they can prepare early . Both students and their family must have enough information about which careers are in high demand, what degrees and qualifications or skills they must develop to meet these careers so they know which courses to take to give them the best employment opportunities. Besides the school advisors, students and their family must also actively find more career information over the Internet and education websites themselves so they can make an informed decision for their future too.

My advice to students is they cannot passively waiting for their parents’ help or rely on others but must actively plan their future based on their interests and focus on developing skills that will benefit them in their career. It is important for them to think seriously about a long-term career instead of just having a job or a degree as some students are only focusing on the “Degree” instead of the “Knowledge and skills.” They focus on just passing the exams and move on to the next levels without learning anything then get frustrated when they cannot find a job. I often told my students that getting a job is easy but keeping it, continue to grow on it and enjoy what they do is important. Therefore they must consider their interests, their passion when planning their career and choose what field to study properly. It also requires a balance between their personal view and the future market opportunities.

Today, a college education is available to almost everybody but the quality is a major issue that receives little attention. There is a wide range of degree programs offer but their graduates could not even perform at the minimum level expected by their employers. Unless we can solve this problem, our graduates will not be able to compete in this technology-driven world. As the fourth Industrial revolution is unleashing a whole new level of technologies and changing the whole world, it will disrupt every business, every economy, every country, and destroy many current jobs by automation and “smart software.” However, this revolution also creates many new jobs that will drive economic growth but people with less education and fewer skills are at an extreme disadvantage as this revolution progresses in the next few years. Now more than ever, every country need to have an educated workforce required to compete and defend their interests against others. The future of a country is depending on how they educate their next generations, how they provide their citizens with the proper knowledge and skills, and how their educators accept their mission to educate and guide their students to contribute to the future economy.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University