Higher Ed Has Experienced A Dramatic Revenue Hit

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In the U.S alone, the higher education sector has experienced a dramatic revenue hit since the onset of the pandemic, especially as international student enrollments at four-year U.S. colleges and universities fell by 13.6 percent since 2020. 

The last decade has seen a net loss of more than two and a half million higher education students in the U.S, and the decline is predicted to continue for another ten years. Reasons for the declines include rising costs, declining confidence in the system, and the large variety of certifications and other alternative programs that are available for career training. 

Many higher education facilities are undergoing a series of transformations through ​​educational offerings beyond degrees, as well as education in multiple modalities (on-campus, online, hybrid). Due to the fluctuating economy, many universities are also working to lower or freeze tuition costs for qualifying students.

The value and relevance of higher education are all relative. There are many variables to consider, such as ambitions, the state of the industries tied to different majors, and location (in addition to cultural values tied to the location). As such, instead of becoming heavily invested in dialogue surrounding higher education, it would be wiser to focus on industries of the future.

Industries are transforming due to innovations in tech

It goes without saying that there are numerous industries that have already been disrupted as a result of tech. For instance, the travel industry experienced major changes with the rise of travel websites. 

Tax accountants, much like human travel agents, also experienced shake-ups since the rise of tax software. Print media took a back seat, with the rise of online media. Applications tied to the sharing economy, in general, have disrupted industries ranging from transportation to hotels and retail. 

Young adults should be trained on how to research the best industries of the future that align with their interests and skillsets. That way, they can better determine what needs to be done now, to succeed in the near future within that vertical. 

Industries that demonstrate the most growth

Different sources offer different predictions in terms of which industries show the most promise for the future. According to NASA, these industries include artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, quantum information science, 5G/advanced wireless technology, and biotechnology. 

Each of these certainly offers lucrative career paths. In addition to those fields, reports from Deloitte indicate that some of the top industries of the future include drones, virtual reality, wearables, mobile payments, cryptocurrencies, genomics, IoT, and robotics. The array of emerging industries do not imply that young adults are limited to one field of specialization. 

Since most of these industries are built on technological foundations, there are many areas where fundamentals carry over. For instance, software developers, by default, need to be experts in cybersecurity. Artificial intelligence is typically known to go hand-in-hand with machine learning technologies. 

Combining areas of specialization that require deep understanding will make young adults stand out in the workforce. This is seen in the case of Melody Yang, who went from being an F1 visa holder to a software engineer at Apple soon after graduating college during the height of the pandemic. 

Yang stood out to Apple for her unique expertise in both mobile engineering and machine learning. She used her skill set to develop six apps, two of which utilize machine learning in unconventional ways. Yang also has many more projects set in place to inspire young adults to follow a similar trajectory, without forgetting to give back to the next generation of leaders in tech,

We as a collective are still at the cusp of change in the post-pandemic world, and now is the time for young adults to strategically think of the future by looking into where their industries of interest are heading. They must then look into ways to stand out by obtaining the training, experience, and tacit knowledge needed to excel along that path.