How Will AI Affect the World of Work for High Schoolers?

31 Mar, 2024 | Blog Articles, Content for Educators

With the recent influx of artificial intelligence (AI) in almost every sector of professional and academic life, it’s important for educators to recognise AI’s growing impact on the future world of work. 

To best prepare high school students for an evolving job landscape, educators should consider the influence of AI and new technologies on future career prospects. 

This article aims to provide relevant insights, actionable strategies and practical guidance to help educators better support students amidst the AI revolution.

Understanding the Impact of AI on Future Careers

In preparing students for the world of work, we need to make a conscious effort to understand the impact of AI on shifting job markets.

Shaping career trajectories in the AI era

AI is revolutionising the professional sector by automating repetitive tasks, improving human decision-making, and creating new employment opportunities for those with the relevant digital knowledge. 

Furthermore, it’s widely believed that recruiters can leverage AI to identify ideal candidates, carefully parsing through similar applications. 

A plethora of careers have recently evolved with the integration of AI technologies. According to a recent report on the job market, emerging AI technology is likely to have a sizable impact upon the following industries (to name a few):

  • Management consultants and business analysts
  • Accountants
  • Salespersons (in various industries)
  • Actuaries, economists and statisticians
  • Business professionals
  • Legal professionals and solicitors

AI has also introduced entirely novel career paths, including Prompt Engineers, AI Trainers, AI Auditors, Ethics Experts and Machine Managers (who oversee AI-operated hardware and systems). 

Educators working with high school students should work to stay abreast of these changes in order to confidently guide young students in their career choices.

AI integration in education tools

In addition to impacting the job market, AI is also enhancing educational tools through adaptive learning platforms and intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs). In particular, recent reports have begun to consider the role of ITSs in transforming medical education and maths education, both in and out of the classroom. 

There are numerous benefits to these kinds of personalised learning experiences, from increased engagement to improved learning results. AI can also cater to diverse student needs, revolutionising special education outcomes and ensuring access to personalised support.

With this in mind, educators can leverage AI to enhance classroom learning, as well as equip high school students with crucial skills for their future careers.

Preparing High Schoolers for an AI-Driven Workforce

As well as incorporating AI into the classroom, it’s just as important for educators to prepare students for the impact of AI on the future workforce.

Integrating tech literacy into the curriculum

We can increase students’ familiarity with AI by integrating tech literacy into the existing school curriculum. According to a report by Newcastle University, AI literacy includes the following skills:

  • Recognising AI when interacting with digital platforms
  • Developing a basic knowledge of AI and the human role in its development
  • Critically analysing disparate types of AI
  • Identifying the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of AI in the workforce
  • Developing a critical awareness of how computers learn from data
  • Describing the key ethical issues surrounding AI and its use in education, including for academic integrity
  • Critically evaluating the potential benefits and limitations of AI’s role in student work products

Coding skills are also essential in preparing students for the rise of AI in the professional landscape. Educators should aim to familiarise students with popular coding software, including Python, R, Java and C++. Students interested in pursuing AI-related careers can get a head start on solidifying these skills through Oxford Scholastica’s Coding course, which considers many of the above developments and analyses in its own syllabus.

Educators can support digital literacy by integrating AI-related coursework into subjects like Mathematics, Science and the Humanities. This might look like using Python to analyse a given data set in the Social Sciences, analysing complex equations via AI programming, or incorporating the use of responsible AI within the Humanities.

Student can be seen working through two rows of laptops

AI concepts for all disciplines

AI concepts can be integrated across various academic subjects. Take, for example, the importance of data analysis skills for STEM students in conducting sophisticated data visualisations and statistical analysis.

Additionally, educators can develop lesson plans that demonstrate the real-world applications of AI in different disciplines. UC Santa Cruz has developed a set of teaching resources for incorporating AI into lesson plans. This includes:

  • Encouraging students to use software like ChatGPT in productive ways, including:
    • To edit spelling, grammar and writing mechanics
    • To seek explanations for complex theories and ideas
    • To brainstorm ideas for broader essays or projects
  • Drafting an AI use policy for a class (which can then appear on a syllabus)
  • Discussing AI’s limitations and uses in STEM fields and the Humanities
  • Designing assignments that encourage students to leverage their creativity against the backdrop of systematised learning
  • Use writing prompts that are incompatible and compatible with AI text generators, in order to compare the results

Ultimately, educators should highlight the interdisciplinary nature of AI, incorporating relevant AI-related concepts into various classroom projects and discussions, all while exploring  the benefits and limitations of these emerging technologies.

Guiding Students Towards AI-Related Careers

With the integration of AI into the classroom, opportunities also arise in which to guide students towards potential AI-related careers.

Emerging AI-related careers

Artificial intelligence has both transformed existing job markets and introduced new career opportunities across myriad fields. With this in mind, we’ve collated a brief overview of emerging AI-related careers across different sectors.

1. Healthcare

With the rise of AI, the healthcare industry has seen significant growth in areas such as medical imaging, drug discovery, personalised medicine and healthcare analytics, with new technologies guiding the field towards innovative digitised means of care.

Furthermore, AI has promulgated a rising demand for data scientists and healthcare data analysts, as well as a need for AI researchers in healthcare – an example of a new career path, in and of itself, that has emerged from the growth of AI.

2. Finance

Across the financial sector, AI has been embraced as a tool for fraud detection, algorithmic trading, risk management and customer service, with the potential for certain intelligent machinery to take the place of financial advisors in the near future. 

As in the healthcare industry, the rise of AI has also altered the financial job market. Prominent careers in the financial sector now include experts trained in quantitative analysis, algorithmic trading and data science – an evident integration of AI-related concepts with existing STEM skill sets.

3. Technology and IT Services

It likely comes as no surprise that the technology and IT service industries have been greatly influenced by the emergence of artificial intelligence. AI remains deeply integrated into the technology sector, with applications in software development, cybersecurity and IT operations. Take, for example, the Google Cloud AI Platform, which has revolutionised the ways in which machine learning models can be created and used by IT personnel.

Given these technological developments, there has also emerged a high demand for AI engineers, machine learning specialists and data scientists.

4. E-commerce and Retail

In an era heavily populated by online shopping, AI has also proven especially relevant to the e-commerce sector. In particular, AI is leveraged for personalised recommendations, demand forecasting and supply chain optimisation.

AI-related careers in the e-commerce and retail industries include jobs in e-commerce strategy, data science and AI development for online shopping platforms.

5. Automotive

Artificial intelligence has also resulted in significant growth in autonomous vehicles, predictive maintenance and smart manufacturing within the automotive industry.

This growth in smart manufacturing has created new careers in autonomous vehicle engineering and AI research, as well as prominent positions in robotics engineering.

6. Content and Visual Arts

Alongside the role of AI across the STEM disciplines, it’s useful to consider the impact of AI upon the content and visual arts fields. Content creation (both written and visual) is one of the numerous fields that initially appeared under threat by the advent of AI.

In response, however, written content teams have begun to pivot, including AI in the following ways:

  • Increasing efficiency (e.g. for research ventures, generating ideas and brainstorming, and improving on existing work)
  • Saving time by automating certain writing tasks (e.g. using of machine learning algorithms to generate engaging content)
  • Updating brand graphics and relevant social media feeds
  • Resizing visuals and drafting written outlines

It’s important to note that AI is unlikely to fully replace the role of human thought in any content creation, from marketing to journalism to the publishing industry.

An Oxford Scholastica student smiling

Building a multidisciplinary skill set

Ultimately, it’s important for students to build a multidisciplinary skill set when entering an AI-driven job market. There are numerous skills essential for AI-related careers in any number of industries, including critical thinking, problem solving and written communication.

We can incorporate these skills into the classroom  through exercises that utilise and analyse existing AI software.

Most importantly, educators should aim to emphasise the importance of fostering a growth mindset and adaptability, ensuring that students are able to enter an ever-changing workforce with confidence.

Addressing Concerns and Challenges

As with any technological development, the role of AI in the world of work is not without its challenges. There are a host of valid concerns about job displacement in a variety of professional sectors, further emphasising the importance of developing adaptability and practising lifelong learning.

With that said, AI is also creating new opportunities and career paths. For more information on this, our seminar with Valerie Sutton covers the future of work in a generative, AI-driven world.

Teaching AI ethical use

The rise of AI has also been accompanied by several ethical considerations. These ethical challenges include (but are not limited to): bias, transparency and accountability. As such, students should be given opportunities to discuss responsible AI use in various career fields.

Educators should prioritise cultivating a sense of responsibility and ethical awareness among students when using AI technologies.

Facilitating AI Literacy: Tips for Educators

To help you stay informed with the latest developments in AI, we’ve collated some relevant resources:

Finally, there is great value in networking with AI professionals, industry experts and other educators – especially those working in similar disciplines. Our LinkedIn Head of Futures group is an excellent opportunity to start building these relationships.

In playing an active role in preparing students for an AI-driven future, educators can inspire future generations of leaders and career innovators. By cultivating a culture of continuous learning, we can help students to understand AI’s capacity to change the future of work for the better!

adam

By Adam Kluge

Adam (he/him) recently completed his MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Oxford. His research exists at the intersection of law, politics, and history – and he welcomes opportunities to further explore these areas through personal and pedagogical practices. He completed his undergraduate degrees at Columbia University and will begin a PhD in Criminology at Oxford this autumn.

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