Every year since 2013, business author Dan Schawbel has shared 10 workplace trends he expects to see in the coming year. One of his 2020 predictions should especially interest current and prospective Bethel students who wonder what you can do with a liberal arts major like History:

Schawbel, Back to HumanThe return of the liberal arts major. AI [artificial intelligence] will automate technical skills and drive the demand for soft skills like creativity, communicate and empathy. While there’s been such a focus on recruiting STEM over the past several years, those majors will continue to lose relevance, while liberal arts majors will become more valuable to companies moving forward. Since 2009, it was believed that STEM degree recipients would have job stability, and command high salaries, while liberal arts majors would be unemployable. The fact is that while liberal arts majors have lower starting salaries, their salaries rise much quicker over the course of their lives than STEM majors. A report by McKinsey analyzed the jobs that are most susceptible to automation and discovered that jobs that harnessed a workers soft skills are the least likely to be automated. For instance, jobs that involve managing and development people have only a 9% automation potential. The biggest workplace gaps through out technology evolution will rely on the soft skills that are cultivated by a liberal arts education instead of technical expertise. We will see an uptick in liberal arts hiring in 2020, which is driven by these gaps and the low unemployment rate. Slack Technologies has half of their leadership team majoring in liberal arts and Infosys is hiring 10,000 employees in the next year, focusing specifically on liberal arts majors. Google crunched their people analytics data and found that STEM skills are the least important when it comes to hiring and soft skills are the most (coaching, communicating, empathy, etc.).

At INC.com, Jessica Stillman adds that Schawbel’s “isn’t the only voice arguing that accelerating innovation and its complex impacts on society will lead to a greater demand for the critical thinking and communication skills you learn studying the liberal arts.” She points to comments from tech sector CEOs like Toby Russell, who believes that the “next generation of great tech companies will need to find ways to have software interact successfully and harmoniously with real humans in the real world… In order to do that, you need soft-skilled leaders that can integrate people, process and technology….”

So beat the rush to the bandwagon and declare your History major before the 2020s start!

(Or study History in tandem with Digital Humanities to cultivate both “soft” skills like communication and critical thinking and more technical skills like coding, graphic design, data visualization, and data analysis.)

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