A new pork processing plant going online in northwest Iowa is relying heavily on robotics and automation is becoming more common in all sorts of Iowa businesses. The president of Junior Achievement of Central Iowa,Ryan Osborn, notes how some fast food restaurants now direct patrons to place their orders using touchpads instead of talking to a real person.
“Domino’s is going to be having cars that drive themselves to deliver your pizza,” Osborn says. “I think you’re just going to continue to see a ripple effect as the technology becomes available and consumers are going to have to get comfortable adapting to that.”
A new survey by Junior Achievement finds 77% of parents are concerned about their children’s ability to have a successful job or career as adults due to global competition and automation. The same percentage of teens surveyed had similar concerns. Many entry-level jobs we know today won’t be around in the next decade, Osborn says, and many of the jobs of tomorrow haven’t even been conceived of yet.
Osborn says, “When we think of education in preparing our next generation, the good-paying jobs that will be available for them, we’ll really have to think, what skills are they going to need and how can they be a value to the workforce and make sure we’re educating our young people in a way that sets them up for success.” It’s vital to encourage young people to explore post-secondary education, whether it’s at a university, community college, or a technical or trade school.
Osborn says having some level of technical training is critical as a high school diploma or GED just won’t be enough for many jobs.
“Automation can continue to increase, but that’s just going to put more emphasis on the soft skills that only human beings can bring to the table, such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication with each other,” Osborn says. “Those are skills we certainly try to promote and foster here at Junior Achievement.”
The nonprofit Junior Achievement of Central Iowa reached nearly 30,000 students last year through a network of more than 2,000 volunteers in 29 central Iowa counties.
Osborn says they focus on the core concepts of promoting financial literacy, instilling work readiness skills and inspiring entrepreneurship.