The World Economic Forum (WEF) report, Future of Jobs Report 2023, reveals that new technologies’ adoption remains a key driver of business transformation. At the same time, companies continue to seize opportunities offered by digitalization in an increasing manner. Technologies that will have an impact in future business include big data, cloud computing and AI. As the second most important driver companies identify themes related to corporate social responsibility and adopting ESG standards (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in their operations. Following behind these drivers that have a direct impact in business are macroeconomic drivers, such as the rise of living costs and slow economic growth.
New ways of operating and developing business have a direct impact on competence needs and the development of professions. We are also likely to witness structural changes in the labor market: professions and tasks will disappear while new ones are born. According to the data WEF collected, the net effect would be negative, and the estimate is that approximately 2% of jobs will permanently disappear. As regards higher education, the future is not as bleak (not surprisingly) as it is seen that there is an increasing need of lecturers in the education industry. Partly, this is due to needs posed by continuous learning.
The theme of this UAS Journal, Digivisio, digital transition, pedagogical development, is timely and portrays a wide picture of how the digital transition advances in universities and in universities of applied sciences (UAS): in teaching and learning, offering and administration, both in individual educational organisations as well as in a wider context. The articles in this theme issue give us an idea of the plethora of opportunities in digitalization, and how the attempts to transfer analog activities to digital are a thing of the past.
While digitalization kills physical distances it possibly introduces other obstacles to interaction. Hence, it is not surprising that many of the authors underline the importance of creating a connection between people. The typical human feature, the need to belong to a group, is no less significant in a digital environment, and pedagogues have done well to pick this up. Quite a few articles mention the sense of belonging, communality, networks and networking, experiences, trust and sense of familiarity, interaction, reciprocity, cooperation, and openness. It is no coincidence that many of the everyday applications have been assigned a common name: “social media”.
To create a sense of communality and belonging one needs to put in an effort and give it time. At the same time, one must pay attention to inclusion: accessibility and usability take careful planning so that all learners have equal access and opportunities to learn.
Higher education institutions not only use digital tools but also develop them. The digital transition challenges us all to rethink. Learner and user orientation provide good bases for thinking, diverse ways of interaction and collaboration help us shed light to challenges from multiple angles, and thus, bring the best ideas for joint development.
Salla Huttunen, PhD, vice-rector (RDI and Digitalization), Haaga-Helia UAS, Salla.Huttunen(at)haaga-helia.fi.
Future of Jobs Report 2023. 2023. World Economic Forum Insight Report, https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2023.pdf, retrieved 24.9.2023.