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What will the future look like after COVID?

2020s
Graphic by Amanda Bollig.

As students enter a new way of modern-day life after COVID, the question is how will everything look? What will the job market look like in the next five to ten years? How does technology affect education? To answer these questions, a few of Kirkwood Community College’s professors shared their thoughts and predictions on what their areas of study might look like in the future.  

Abbie Weipert – Business Administration – Management, Business & Information Technology 

Education & Technology: “I think technology creates opportunity for innovation and variety and allows us to better interact with each other as well as the material. Of course, as we all know, tech can also be a major distraction or lead to misinterpretations of tone in our digital communication, so it’s important to establish good habits and high standards for professionalism.” 

Job Market: “In the post-COVID business world, remote work will be much more prevalent, which will make employee communication, technology skills, time management, accountability and adaptability much more valuable. Interpersonal skills and the ability to form relationships, gain buy-in, and influence productivity [both] remotely and in person will be critical. With the option to work remotely, even if only part of the work week, even small companies may look to hire from larger talent pools in wider geographical areas, increasing competition but also available opportunities for applicants willing to work remotely.”  

Fred Ochs – Professor of Chemistry and Earth Science 

Education & Technology: “Since March 2020 we’ve had a massive shift in education. Now that we’ve had almost a year to adjust, it’s clear that this shift isn’t temporary. I think most of us now realize how useful these new tools are. I think we’ve all learned how to use the online tools to learn and to teach better.” 

Sustainability: “One clear case is how Zoom sessions (our WebLive classes) can connect teachers to students even when our unpredictable Iowa weather gets in the way. Another is how we can teach more sustainably by having students submit pdfs instead of turning in printed assignments.”  

Jim Glasgow – Professor and Head of Software Development Program 

Software Development: “There will be more of it,” Glasgow said, adding that the industry will continue to grow and there will be more ways to interact with devices and electronic equipment. Glasgow stated that people want applications so there will be a need for programmers to create those applications. More programmers will be needed to maintain new applications. 

Effect of COVID-19 on industry: With companies shifting to remote work because of COVID, Glasgow noted an increase in people using software for remote work, video conferencing and document sharing. This creates opportunities for developers. 

As for working at the office Glasgow said, “I don’t see it going back all the way to how it was” because some employers have liked sharing costs by having employees use their own equipment and electricity. Glasgow mentioned, though, that COVID has created opportunities for people with home obligations, like child rearing, to enter the workforce. However, programming takes concentration and it can be difficult to do at home. “Quite a few people don’t want the distractions,” he said. 

Advances in Technology: Glasgow said he believes that what will have an impact is the increasing availability of cloud computing and its possibilities with AI and machine learning. Large companies such as Apple or Amazon Web Services, Glasgow explained, are turning complex programming into libraries that developers can access through subscriptions. Glasgow concluded, “A developer doesn’t need to know what is happening with the code” that makes up libraries in order to put them to use in their own programs. 
 

Image courtesy of Amanda Bollig

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