Prepare now for Fourth Industrial Revolution

Student speakers at Marshall High School’s 2017 graduation ceremony on Friday spoke of their upcoming journey in life. Marshall High School Principal Brian Jones said 167 students were receiving their diplomas.

“After this point, our future is in our hands,” student Speaker Brooke Chesley said.

“When we walk out of those doors, we will no longer be the class of 2017. We will be members of society, and we will be expected to lead. Let’s hit the ground running, and never slow down,” student speaker Matthew Rich said.

Well, put your running shoes on. Technology is flying and keeping up with it is vital to compete in a volatile employment environment.

Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor of Minnesota on Monday wrote in an op-ed piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune of the dawn of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

He said many unfolding changes will dramatically improve our quality of life in “many exciting ways.” But he also said other aspects of those changes will be highly disruptive.

“It will become even harder for many to keep up,” he said. “For this reason, it’s urgent for our education, business, science and government leaders to understand the coming changes and develop plans to use those changes as a force for good for the people, places and causes they serve.”

He cited Forrester research claiming that new technologies will eliminate 6 percent of the jobs in the U.S. By 2021.

Pawlenty also cited a Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research that concluded that 88 percent of all manufacturing jobs lost in recent years were displaced by technology, not trade. He also cited the World Economic Forum’s “Hefty Price Tag” report that projected 65 percent of children entering school today will join the workforce by taking jobs that don’t yet exist.

Pawlenty’s conclusion:Those who invent, improve, commercialize, maintain and leverage new technology will disproportionately prosper. So we must make significant new investments in modern training and retraining programs.

“We must go all-in to support — and promote — vocational training relating to jobs that cannot be easily automated. Skilled positions such as plumbers, electricians, painters, police officers, hospitality managers, painters, artists that may be more immune to technology advances.”

Marshall 2017 graduate speaker Lyth Shahin was right when he challenged his fellow classmates to stay open-minded and to use all of their talents to make an impact.

“As a class of leaders, we can use our thoughts and ideas to change the world,” he said.

Parents, school officials and politicians also must be up to this challenge. The future of our children depend on it.

Expanding educational opportunities will make communities, the state and our nation economically stronger .