It’s a new year, and we’re making some bold predictions about technical education in 2024. What are the key technologies educators should keep an eye on? What cultural, economic and demographic shifts will have the highest impact? How will AI be used by learners and instructors alike?
It’s all discussed on The TechEd Podcast’s annual predictions episode, which you can stream right here:
Recently, over 100 individuals from automotive OEMs, tier 1 and 2 suppliers, government agencies, workforce associations, economic development organizations and educational institutions converged in Detroit to discuss the growing need for an EV workforce and how the U.S. can best prepare a pipeline of workers ready for the EV revolution.
Plan to see more EV technology in technical programs in 2024. We’re talking about automotive technician programs, but also manufacturing, engineering, chemistry, maintenance and a plethora of other program areas. The EV workforce will need people to design new battery technology, engineer better vehicles, manufacture batteries and vehicles, install and maintain charging stations across the country, and of course maintain electric vehicles on the road.
More on this topic: Education Should Get Ahead of EV Market Before Mass Adoption (📰 blog)
The need for technical talent isn’t slowing down anytime soon – it’s time organizations start working together to solve our nation’s workforce issues.
In 2024, prepare to see more organizations collaborating on innovative solutions to address talent shortages. That means educational institutions, workforce boards, government, technical training providers, and industrial companies coming together. That even means organizations who would otherwise see each other as competitors coming together for the greater good.
We’re all about securing the American dream for the next generation of STEM and workforce talent, and that doesn’t happen without partnerships. Co-opetition is healthy and will drive more innovation in 2024.
If you haven’t heard of the enrollment cliff yet, it’s time to familiarize yourself. Demographics show a drop in birth rates around 2008, which means there are now fewer students available to enter higher education after high school. That, combined with a growing hesitancy to go tens of thousands of dollars into debt for a degree, means higher education institutions (especially universities) need to get creative with how they attract students.
Those who don’t adapt will find themselves with enrollment numbers too low to support their budget; already, we’re seeking universities close their doors for good because they just don’t have enough students.
A great example of adaptive disruption is the Automation Leadership degree through UW-Stout, where students can use third-party credentials earned at any SACA (Smart Automation Certification Alliance) member organization to earn credits toward a bachelors degree. Up to 88 credits can be earned through these credentials (at a high school, at a technical or community college anywhere in the country), without paying a cent of university tuition. Plus, the rest of the degree courses can be taken fully online, so a student never has to leave their community and can immediately add value in an industry that desperately needs automation leaders.
More on this topic: Groundbreaking Automation Leadership Degree is a Fast Track to Industry 4.0 (🎧 podcast)
Here’s a bold prediction: by the end of 2024, 33% of school districts, 50% of technical colleges and 50% of university engineering programs will have concrete plans to implement AI learning and curriculum in their programs.
The workforce our students will enter will be totally transformed by AI in the next 5 years – so we need to teach students about the concepts that underpin this technology. How do we define AI? How do neural networks work? What is supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning? What are large language models, natural language processors, and generative pre-trained transformers?
More and more educators are realizing that they don’t have a choice but to teach artificial intelligence applications if their students are going to be ready for a world that is changing in ways we’ve never seen before. So schools will spend 2024 developing curriculum plans and new programs ready to be launched in 2025. As it relates to technical education, these plans will focus on teaching students about the applications of artificial intelligence, the edge-to-cloud continuum, and data analytics.
More on this topic: The 4 Elements of Artificial Intelligence, and How to Teach Them (🎧 podcast)
Here’s another bold predication: by the end of 2024, more than 50% of educators (that includes teachers, deans, staff and leadership) will actively use AI in their day-to-day jobs.
And why not? A recent MIT study found that individuals who used ChatGPT to assist them with a mundane 30-minute task were able to complete the task 40% faster, with a higher quality outcome and a higher level of job satisfaction. And that’s just one free AI tool.
There are thousands of artificial intelligence tools available to assist educators, and they’re only going to get better as time goes on. From curriculum planning, to student course scheduling, to emails and calendar organization, to writing content and creating presentations, educators should be using AI to make their day-to-day jobs easier.
By the way – listen to the episode if you want to witness ChatGPT put together a semester-long curriculum plan in 6 seconds!
More on this topic: AI-Driven Learning – Empowering Students, Teachers and Workers Alike (🎧 podcast)
Artificial intelligence is progressing quicker than our ability to regulate it. Rather than trying to prohibit the use of AI tools in the classroom, forward-thinking institutions will find ways to encourage and even mandate students to leverage AI tools to complete their coursework.
If you think you can police the use of AI in the classroom, take 5 minutes on TikTok to search all the creative ways students are using these tools in undetectable ways. Instead, let’s rethink how we approach learning and use AI to augment the student experience. How do we assess competencies in a world where AI is seen as a useful and productive asset?
In 2024, educators will have to put more focus on applied learning, less on memorization. More hands-on assessments, more collaborative and project-based work, less rote memorization and regurgitation of information.
More on this topic: An AI Playbook for the Classroom and Beyond (🎧 podcast)
5 years ago, smart manufacturing started making its way into career and technical education programs, and today there are Industry 4.0 labs all over the country, from high schools to colleges. (And if your industrial technology program is still limited to woods and metals, it’s time to step into the future).
In 2024, agri-tech programs will see the same transformation occur in the technology they teach. The agriculture industry today is “not your grandfather’s farm” – it’s smart connected farming. And that means aerial drones to monitor crops and track livestock, farm equipment loaded with smart sensors to regulate soil conditions, software connected to satellites to track weather and atmospheric factors, autonomous tractors to seed, water and harvest crops, and so much more.
Agri-tech programs will start teaching these technologies and their applications within the classroom. As one example, MINDS-i has developed a self-driving tractor that students build, program and operate outdoors on their own mini-farm on campus.
More on this topic: Self-Driving Tractor – The Future of Agri-Tech Education (🎥 video)
In January 2023, we predicted a growth of industrial training programs – and we saw that prediction take shape throughout the year. However, too many employee training programs start as a good idea with a startup budget, but lack the long-term backbone to get off the ground. Most well-meaning training initiatives end at the pilot stage because no one was actively monitoring, measuring and scaling the program.
In 2024, we’ll see that change. We must see that change. Employers who talk about offering training to their employees will be forced to make good on their promises. Companies who are worn thin form a shortage of skilled talent will recognize the need to develop the team they have. And most of all, employees will value the investment their company makes in helping them learn new skills and advance in their career.
Many companies have already figured out how to execute on their training goals, whether through partnerships with their local technical college or by building an in-house training program. For those who haven’t…2024 is the year to make it happen.
More on this topic: Industrial Training – A Free Video Series for Manufacturing Leaders Who Want to Build an Employee Training Program (🎥 video series)
Did you know there are over 900 credentials in the world of education that students can earn? How many of those do industrial employers care about (or even know about)? For years, credentials have been used as a way for schools to earn grant dollars or for companies to sell more software or equipment. They weren’t valued by employers, who were much more focused on a student’s degree and work history.
That paradigm is shifting with the growing popularity of third-party, industry-recognized credentials.
What makes these credentials stand apart from the other 900?
Third-party certifications are brand-agnostic and validate that an individual has the skills employers actually care about. For the last 4 years, we’ve seen some of the country’s largest industrial employers get involved in third-party certifications, and in 2024, they’re going to start actively recruiting the people who have those credentials on their resumé.