Why the Future of Higher Education is all About STEM?

The future looks bright with massive opportunities which hold the right skill set and education. With machines and humans working side-by-side today, and the boom of AI, Machine Learning, and NLP(Natural Language Processing), the future of higher education is all about automation and less human labor. STEM-related degrees, which are Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math-related, are more in demand in the future compared to other majors. These are the degrees with the highest employability rates and are more likely to land a job that pays higher than the average salary. These are just some of the degrees that will best suit your future career. So what are some of the best in-demand degrees to get for the future? Let’s find out.

How Does The Future of Work Look?

According to the Future of Jobs survey by the World Economic Forum, the share of task hours spent by humans and machines in 2025 is predicted to be equal. The workforce is shifting rapidly with new trends, technologies, and ways of working. The pandemic has by far accelerated this wave, forcing industries and economies to shift to re-invent the wheel and bring sustainable business models to thrive in the long run.

The result of all these?

A lot of jobs could be permanently replaced in the future while also bringing new opportunities. For instance, the tourism industry suffered a lot during the pandemic, whereas businesses whose services could be offered remotely continued to weather the uncertain situation and even continued to make profits.

Employment trends for jobs at high risk of automation

Some of the jobs that are at risk of getting replaced are:

  1. Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants
  2. File Clerks
  3. Data Entry Jobs & Computer Operators
  4. Switchboard Operators
  5. Word Processors & Typists
  6. Legal Secretaries
  7. Telemarketers
  8. Brickmasons
  9. Postal Service
  10. Bill & Account Collectors

The Best Degrees In Demand for the Future

best-degrees-for-the-future-alignthoughts

1. Encryption and cybersecurity

With the rapidly changing world of technology, it is important to focus on degrees that will best prepare you for a future career. Of course, encryption and cybersecurity are at the forefront of this list.

Encryption and cybersecurity are in high demand careers in the 21st century. They require a very in-depth understanding of technology in order to stay ahead of hackers who use these skills against their competitors.

Some popular degrees for this field include:

  • Digital security
  • Cyber security
  • Information security
  • Computer forensics

These top degrees by major will allow students to pursue a number of different career paths when they graduate from school or college.

In an age where data breaches seem to be a weekly occurrence, there has been a surge in the number of people seeking careers in cybersecurity. The cyber security field is expected to grow by 13% through 2026, creating more jobs for this field.

Even experts state that cybersecurity degrees are some of the top degrees in demand for future careers.

2. Cloud computing

Cloud computing is the use of a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.

Cloud computing degrees have many advantages over traditional computing. Some of them are:

  • Improved accessibility and performance
  • Better security
  • Increased mobility
  • Data storage perks
  • Lower costs

Cloud computing is the best major for people who are interested in working in the IT industry or engineering fields.

3. Internet of things and connected devices

We are currently in a world where many devices are interconnected to form one interconnected network called the Internet of things. These devices can be anything from an individual pod in your home to large-scale networks connecting every device in the world together.

IoT is a future in-demand technology that has use cases across a range of devices from computers and smart televisions to Google Home and Amazon Echo.

The Internet of things and connected devices is a trend that will continue to grow in the future. As we progress into this new generation of technology, it will become more important for people to understand the basics of connectivity and how it works.

Computer engineers with a background in math, science, and computer science courses can have good career development within the IoT sector.

The following college degrees are great starting points for those who want to enter this field:

  • Computer Science: This degree can lead you to careers in mobile development, web development, or network management. Students who gain an understanding of computer programming and software engineering fundamentals will be very useful once they graduate.
  • Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineers learn about power systems, circuits, etc.

4. Artificial intelligence (inc. ML and NLP)

AI is a technology that is redefining the world. It has already impacted our lives in so many ways, but it’s not just innovation for the future. AI is here and now. The only question is how best to prepare for its inevitable impact.

The field of Artificial Intelligence, ML, and NLP have become some of the hottest careers in the industry today—not just because of the critical skills they offer to employers but also because they are rife with opportunities for advancement and personal growth.

The best degree by major for someone looking to obtain employment in the field of AI is Computer Science, followed by Mathematics and Statistics.

5. Text, image, and voice processing

Text processing includes all the tasks that involve understanding texts, which are broken down into two categories:

  • Natural language processing (NLP) – It involves understanding the text’s meaning, sentiment, and context to derive insights that can be used by other systems.
  • Information retrieval – This, on the other hand, involves using machine learning to extract certain information from texts for use in different systems.

Text, image, and voice processing focus on the computer processing of text, images, and voice data. The field has experienced a dramatic increase in importance in recent years as the volume of digital information has increased exponentially.

The top degrees for future careers are listed below according to their major.

  • Business Administration – BA or BS
  • Computer Science – BS or MS
  • Information Science – MS or PhD
  • Mathematics – BS or PhD
  • Statistics – MS or PhD

6. E-commerce and digital trade

The e-commerce industry is not just limited to shopping anymore but also includes other services such as crowdfunding, digital trade, and supply chain management. With so many different careers available in this field, it is hard to narrow down to just one career path.

Here are some of the top degrees that you could choose from if you want to work in e-commerce:

  • Business Administration
  • Finance
  • Management Information Systems
  • Marketing
  • International Business

7. Robots, non-humanoid (e.g. industrial automation, drones)

Robots will soon be taking on many of our everyday tasks in the work environment. They are already coming into use in various industries, such as the automotive and medical sectors.

Robots, especially, non-humanoid robots can improve productivity and can take over tasks that are too difficult and mundane for humans to perform. But we should not forget that they are also expensive, making it hard to justify the purchase for smaller businesses.

Robotics is a good major or course to study to get a job in this career field.

8. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Both of these technologies have been around for a while, but they are still developing and seeing more real-life applications all the time. It is predicted that there will be more than 200 million people with an AR or VR headset.

The most common use for augmented reality right now is in mobile gaming. But it has also been used in construction, healthcare, military training, and retail spaces. Virtual Reality has already found its place in video games, but it has also seen success in other fields like education and therapy, as well as filmmaking.

We are yet to see the real power of AR and VR combined, for example, when Metaverse has come to life.

9. Distributed ledger technology (e.g., blockchain)

Distributed ledger technology is the most profitable career field in the future, with an expected $92 billion shortage of qualified labor.

Blockchain is a specialized type of DLT that stores data in blocks. These blocks are linked together using cryptography to create a “chain” that can’t be altered without altering all subsequent blocks, so it is very secure.

More and more companies are starting to embrace ledger technology as a way to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

The top three degrees that are recommended for future careers are computer science, engineering, and mathematics.

10. 3D and 4D printing and modeling

3D modeling and printing is a developing technology that uses a 3D printer to produce a three-dimensional object from a computer model.

The degrees that will be most relevant to 3D and 4D printing are programs in design, engineering, business, art, and design, etc.

The future careers for this field are mainly engineers or designers who can help to take an idea from paper and create it into the real world.

11. Biotechnology

Biotechnology is one of the most rewarding and fastest-growing fields in academia today. It has found its way into almost every aspect of our lives, from our food to our medical treatments.

The best degrees for this field are:

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology or chemistry

If you are looking for a more specialized degree, then genetic counseling or bioinformatics would be a good option. After the college degree, the workforce in this career field involves scientists, engineers, researchers, and technicians.

12. Robots, humanoid

Robots and humanoids will play an important role in the future of human life.

There are a number of degrees that can prepare one for a future career in robotics and software engineering. These include computer science, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering.

In the future robots will automate many jobs that humans would normally do now. A degree in robotics or software engineering might be the best way to prepare for this future.

13. Power storage and generation

The under-development and cost-effectiveness of renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind power have made the need for more efficient storage and generation systems a priority.

The future of power generation and storage is heavily reliant on what new innovations will come about. It’s possible that we will see the creation of new renewable energy sources such as tidal, geothermal, or hydroelectric.

With this in mind, one of the most interesting degrees to consider in the future is Mechanical Engineering because it often has courses related to renewable energy and sustainable design.

14. Big data analytics

Big data analytics is a hot career; we can expect it to be one of the top jobs in the future as well. Some major universities have made this their focus as well, some examples are Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, and Northeastern University.

The core of analytics is data, and companies need to hire people to analyze that data. Companies hire a Data Analyst, Data Scientist, or Business Analyst to do this and it can be one of the most desirable majors to pursue to secure a job in the future.

15. Quantum computing

Quantum computing is the next big thing. The next generation of computers will be much faster and smarter than anything we’ve seen before.

We are living in an era of digital technology, where everything is becoming more automated, interconnected, and fast-paced. But what if there was something out there that could make it even better? There is!

Quantum computing is one of the most recent developments in the field of information technology, with many experts predicting that it will change how computer systems work forever.

From Google to Intel to IBM, all these companies are competing to be the frontrunners in this field, pushing quantum computers towards commercialization and success.

A Word From AlignThoughts,

The future of jobs is going to be very different from the present. The jobs that will be available in a few years will definitely require new skills and qualifications. So, it is essential to be prepared for the changes coming.

Having said that, STEM fields are more likely to survive in this upcoming decade than any other degree. Employers are taking a more holistic approach to education which is more project-based. From small to big companies, all of them are looking for candidates who can provide innovative solutions and think outside of the box- both of which are increasingly becoming a necessity in today’s fast-paced world.

Nihar B
With a decade of experience as a woman in tech, Nihar has worked with a range of companies from Fortune 500 corporations such as IBM, Accenture, Ericsson to H&M Group. Her diverse work-life enables her to share her knowledge to develop, grow, and succeed both professionally and personally in today's ever-changing world.

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