Why humanities students will drive the future of the tech industry

Technology is moving fast, constantly becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, and we need the workforce to compliment it.

Young professionals are overwhelmingly gravitating to the tech industry because of this expanding tech job market, looking for exciting and financially rewarding work.

An increasing number of students are looking to prioritize technical-focused degrees to gain the skills needed for these roles. Admissions on computer science courses rising by almost 50% in the last decade, and admissions on the newer AI courses have seen a whopping 400% rise..

In turn, humanities degrees are being left in the dust, with a drop of 40,000 students enrolling in arts and humanities degrees in the past decade. The growing belief is that these degrees do not equip students with the skills to work in technology. But as the world of technology continues to advance, its needs continue to evolve beyond the technical, while the job market will change according to these demands.

Quantum computing could soon change everything we know about technology. Its unprecedented speeds and processing power promise to transform our computing capabilities and further develop next-gen AI. As our world of technology changes, we will need to take advantage of the skills humanities degrees provide to maintain ourselves.

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The big ethical question

How to regulate emerging technologies such as quantum computing will be a huge challenge as they evolve, and a concerted effort is required to avoid their misuse and exploitation.

We are already seeing problems emerge with AI, where the impact of biased datasets is under increasing scrutiny. Quantum computing will only amplify this, making it even more difficult to manually analyze and correct its consequences.

A host of moral dilemmas are already emerging, and we need those with the skills in ethics and decision-making that humanities degrees intrinsically teach to help regulate these technologies. In the case of quantum computing, we will have to deal with socially responsible usage, fair access and ending monopolization by companies.

We will also need people to be able to make decisions and meet strict standards. These are unlikely to come from the pure technology or scientific community, whose focus tends to be solely on progress. Humanities degrees will equip the future workforce with the skills to work with these looming ethical dilemmas.

Keep up with new technology

The inherent fast-paced nature of the technology industry means that the demands of the job market are constantly changing. For example, there are now an abundance of developers, and even more wanted. There are over 465,700 software professionals and developers in the UK, more than doubling the 224,000 there were a decade ago in 2011.

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However, as technology advances, the emergence of practical usage of quantum computing will begin to make the jobs of programmers obsolete as the knowledge required evolves. Instead of equipping workers with specific technical skills that may only have a half-life of 2.5 years, we need to plan for the long term.

Human evolution cannot keep up with how fast technology is advancing. By bringing non-technical workers with different perspectives into technical workforces, such as those with humanities backgrounds, teams can become more balanced and able to navigate these evolving needs more easily, using knowledge that won’t become outdated.

Growing future needs

AI is now a common part of our lives, not just something fantastical in movies and science fiction. Quantum computing will follow suit, with predictions showing that by next year, 25% of the Fortune Global 500 will use some form of quantum computing to gain a competitive advantage..

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As automation eliminates many technology occupations, we need to grow what we need in our future tech workforce now – namely the soft skills that human degrees bring. Critical thinking and problem solving skills will be essential to be able to grapple with unprecedented problems and rapid developments.

Communication skills involving public speaking, teamwork, professional writing and leadership skills will be indispensable for working with the many companies and groups that will begin working with quantum computing. The technology sector cannot turn its back on this part of the talent pool – in fact, it should nurture and integrate these skills as a priority to ensure technological progress is not hindered.

About the Author

Liz Parnell is COO of Rackspace Technology. Be ready for what’s next with multi-cloud solutions from Rackspace Technology™. We are the experts in multi-cloud solutions. We know what you’re up against because we’ve helped global companies across industries with it — and you can bet we’re ready to help. Our team delivers results by listening to your challenges and building custom cloud services and solutions that help your business run better now and in the future.


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