Future of Work

The Humanities Equip Students for the Workforce of the Future

In this section we highlight three trends that illustrate (1) why demand for the valued skills cultivated through the humanities will increase in the future, (2) why the humanities provide a reliable foundation for career success in an uncertain future of rapid change, and (3) how humanities majors will continue to thrive and emerge as field leaders as shifts in the nature of leadership increasingly play to their strengths.  

Research forecasting future hiring trends suggest that more students should be choosing to study the humanities. Human capital experts argue that the value of distinctly human skills is likely to increase as more straightforward logical tasks are automated through advances in artificial intelligence and robotics. The models produced by these experts predict increasing demand for employees with skills fostered by the humanities, including empathy, communication, social perceptiveness, judgment, negotiation, and persuasion. 

Experts also agree that the amount of “churn” in the job market will continue to increase steadilyand perhaps exponentiallyas new industry-shaping technologies are introduced. The notion that someone can acquire a single set of marketable skills in four years of college that will serve them throughout their professional careers is more dubious than ever. Experts observe that the skills the humanities foster provide a more reliable foundation for such an uncertain future, equipping students with the capacities they need to learn, grow, and adapt to changing realities throughout their lifetime. 

As the job market changes, the leaders of tomorrow will also be expected to deliver on broader and more complex measures of successtrends that play to humanists’ strengths. Research is revealing that the most effective leaders are those who activate workers’ intrinsic motivation by persuading them of the inherent meaningfulness of the work they do. Future leaders will also need to embrace ambiguity and complexity, navigate complex ethical challenges, and effectively communicate across culturesall skills taught in humanities classrooms. The humanities provide students with the tools they need to rise to the challenges of 21st century leadership.