A Redefinition of the Role of Higher Education?

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: A Redefinition of the Role of Higher Education?
Stream: Higher Education
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Josefina Geneva, Geneva Business School, Switzerland
Alex Bell, University of Wales Saint Trinity David, United Kingdom


The 4th industrial revolution has begun to change -and will dramatically continue to change- the economy, the society, and the labour market at large. As Frey and Osborne (2013) have pointed out, automatization and digitalization will "destroy" or at least reconfigure, as many as 70% of jobs. While Arntz et al. (2017) do not agree with Frey and Osborne (2013) on the scope of the creative destruction that AI will bring about, they are of the opinion that many routine, repetitive tasks required for the jobs of the future will be taken over by AI, therefore changing the nature of the skills needed by the labour markets of the 21st century. While, according to the OECD (2019) the employment rate for college graduates is 9% than for adults who only possess upper secondary education, and the former earn on average 57% more than latter, there is much more demand for some professions than for others. According to the same report, less than 15% of students who start college study engineering, manufacturing, and construction majors, and only 5% study computer science despite the enormous demand for these professionals. Furthermore, women are particularly underrepresented in the aforementioned programs: across the OECD, only 25% of students of these majors are women. This paper reports on the increased attention on the redefinition of the Role of Higher Education in the 21st century and its key implications for the labour market. The paper builds upon a constructivist approach, combining a literature review and research on key publications and academic reports.

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