The urgency to change the education system

According to a new study, the world’s older population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Today about 10% of people worldwide are aged 65 or more. But it will jump to 20% in the next ten or fifteen years. With the advance of medicine and technology, more people will live longer, but it does not mean that they are living healthier. The increase in the aging population creates problems for many countries but also opportunities for people who study public health as the demand has increased significantly in the past few years.

Although the aging population is happening all over the world, it is much more severe in developed countries as older workers are retiring but not enough younger workers to replace them. Even with advanced technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence there are not enough workers and the shortage is getting worst each year. Countries such as the U.S. Japan and Europe are experiencing rapid aging population that affects many aspects of their society like long-term health care needs, transportation, housing, and elderly care. For example, Japan has one of the fastest-aging populations with 72 elderly people for every 100 working people. South Korea has 66 elders for every 100 working people. As the population in these developed countries has shrunk, and having fewer working people to support a large number of elderly, the social and economic impact can be a critical issue in the next few years. At the same time, the population growth is happening in a few countries, mostly in the African continent where there is a large population of younger workers ready to work. Some economists believe that the economic power could shift to Africa or countries with a younger population (Age 20s to 40s). However, their thinking is based on manufacturing and labor workers which is no longer valid. With many factories are moving to automation, what the world need is technical workers, especially knowledge workers with digital knowledge NOT unskilled labor workers.

By definition, Knowledge workers are people whose skill is their knowledge such as engineers, scientists, software developers, computer programmers, medical doctors, lawyers, teachers, and professors etc. Currently, there is a critical shortage of knowledge workers all over the world but the most severe shortage is in the information technology industry. For example, in 2017 there was over 4 million unfilled jobs in technology and it continues to rise as supply cannot meet demand. The questions are how many students and their parents know about this shortage? How many educators recognize the need to change their training program to take advantage of this trend?

I believe that in this technology-driven world, all students need to be educated in information technology. Before graduating from high school, all students must know how to use a computer and its tools and be able to access the Internet. Because Information technology is the foundation of all technological innovations, therefore it should be the key focus for any country to become a knowledge society and the key to the future economy. By not offering appropriate information technology education means that the education system is harming both current and future generation of its citizens, both educationally and economically. Without appropriate actions, any country will become a consumer of technology and miss an opportunity to stay competitive and prosper in this connected world.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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