The Alabama Commission on Higher Education has approved 13 new academic programs, and one new unit of instruction, within seven Alabama universities. According to a release from ACHE, the new programs at select universities are meant to prepare students for future shifts toward automation in the labor market.
“We must equip and educate our citizens with the skills necessary to meet the supply and demand of the workplace,” said ACHE chairman Charles Buntin. “Our state’s economic success is dependent on collaborative efforts by our higher education system to help prepare students for a rapidly changing 21st Century world of work.”
The committee suggests that new job skills beyond the high school level will be mandatory for workers hoping to keep jobs that pay livable wages after 2025, and due to further automation and reliance on artificial intelligence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pre-pandemic predictions on encroaching automation in major industry’s remain unsteady.
“The pandemic is presenting a dual threat for vulnerable workers,” said Meagan Crowe of the Southern Education Foundation at an ACHE meeting Friday.
Up to 46 percent of food preparation and serving, 41 percent of transportation and material moving and 57 percent of production occupations could be automated by the end of 2025, according to analyses done by the Southern Regional Education Board.
ACHE newly approved programs include:
- Auburn University: Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis, Master of Development Practice in Development Practice, and Master of Science in Supply Chain Management
- Troy University: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Data Analytics
- University of South Alabama: Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Establishment of a New Unit of Instruction: School of Marine and Environmental Sciences
- Shelton State Community College: Associate of Applied Science in Medical Laboratory Technician
- University of North Alabama: Bachelor of Business Administration in Data Analytics and Master of Science in Instructional Technology and Design
- Athens State University: Bachelor of Science in Education in Elementary Education and English for -Speakers of Other Languages, Master of Science in Strategic Human Resource Management, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Request to Amend Post-Implementation Conditions: University of North Alabama, Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems Sustainability; and University of North Alabama, Master of Arts in Public History
According to Crowe, 30 percent of work activities in the state could be automated by the end of 2025.