Preparing graduates for 5G-enabled work.

Perhaps no other sector in the U.S. is facing more challenges and changes than higher education. For the 2021–22 student academic year, public universities and private institutions are forecasting 60% and 75% drops in tuition, respectively.1 Student debt from higher education in the U.S. currently totals $1.71 trillion, owed by 44.7 million borrowers,2 which represents an increase of 102% in student debt since 2010.3 This leaves institutions having to work harder to attract and retain students within tight budgets.

Meanwhile, the acceleration of technology adoption due to social distancing during the pandemic has led to a more mobile and distributed workforce. Cloud services, 5G networks, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are now standard business features that are changing the nature of the work environments that new graduates will face.

During the pandemic, colleges and universities scrambled to deploy remote learning infrastructure and curricula. Post-pandemic, the future of higher education will be a mix of in-person and distance learning.

Colleges and universities must do more than deliver remote learning. They must prepare students for how technologies like 5G and IoT will impact careers in the new world of work

But colleges and universities must do more than deliver remote learning. They must prepare students for how technologies like 5G and IoT will impact careers in the new world of work.

The new world of work.

The post-COVID-19 workforce will be vastly more mobile and distributed than before the pandemic. Telecommuting is only one of the trends impacting how work gets done. In the future, insurance agents, financial planners, and building contractors will move between offices, customer locations, and work sites connected to enterprise cloud applications and do business in real time.
Workers in smart factories will use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), AI analytics from video feeds and machine process systems, and numerous other applications and communications tools to complete their work. Retailers will scan products with tablets and immediately connect to supply chains to serve customers in person, online, and on the phone.

The new world of work will contain more devices, more applications, and more communications channels. In fact, there will be 40.9 billion IoT and wired devices in use globally by 2025.4 Big data analytics, machine learning, and AI applications continue to proliferate.

The new world of work will also involve a lot more data. 5G networks will process data many times faster than existing 4G networks.5 IoT sensors in everything from cars to refrigerators will supply new insights.

The classroom-to-jobs disconnect.

A recent Gallup poll found that only 11% of business leaders believe college graduates are prepared for the workforce.6 Two-thirds of Americans in a Pew Research Center survey agree that students aren’t getting the skills they need for the workplace.7
A report by McKinsey found that the number one skill needed by new workers is the ability to operate in a fully digital environment.8 The report suggests that workers need to have “a basic understanding of critical technology, data concepts, and processes, including data visualization, applied machine learning, and advanced analytics.” A similar study in the U.K. discovered that 82% of job openings require some form of digital skills.9

From classroom concepts to real-world work environments.

Whatever their degree programs, every college and university graduate must be familiar with the technology that supports their industry. This includes understanding how data is collected and made relevant to customers, partners, suppliers, prospects, researchers, analysts, competitors, and shareholders.

In addition to teaching students how to use technology platforms, higher education institutions can teach students how to formulate meaningful questions for analytics systems based on the collected data—an extension of the critical thinking exercises already standard in higher education institutions.

But with so much data available, a big challenge is understanding what data is valuable and how to apply it to strategic initiatives.

As America’s 5G leader, T-Mobile is working with colleges and universities to help unlock innovative ways of learning and to improve campus experiences.

As America’s 5G leader10, T-Mobile is working with colleges and universities to help unlock innovative ways of learning and to improve campus experiences. For example, T-Mobile partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Curiosity Lab to create a 5G Connected Future incubator program designed to support entrepreneurs and startups working on 5G innovations.

Whether higher education institutions are teaching students in AR/VR, artificial intelligence, cloud services, or the Internet of Things, a good technology partner and high-speed networks are as vital as the right curricula to students’ futures.

T-Mobile® For Education is all about helping higher education institutions advance instruction, attract and retain students, and improve experiences for students, faculty, and staff. For more information on how we’re delivering what’s next in higher education, visit T-Mobile.com/HigherEd

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