Key idea: Permanent understaffing and other questions about the future of higher ed.
Original author and publication date: Joshua Kim (Inside Higher Ed) – July 26, 2022
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: There will be higher education if nobody is there to teach.
From the article:
As I was finishing Marian Salzman’s The New Megatrends, two articles resonated in relation to the book.
The first article was a July 21 Inside Higher Ed piece, “Higher Ed’s Hiring Woes.” The second is the July 22 Chronicle article “More Than Half of Campus Staff Members Are Thinking About Quitting, Survey Finds.”
The reason that The New Megatrends and these two articles on existing and potential higher education labor shortages are linked has everything to do with the future of the university.
We are at the point where we all have to ask ourselves: Is the staffing crisis we are experiencing in higher ed a permanent aspect of our future?
Are we in the midst of some academic labor market anomaly for staff (and some faculty), driven by temporary factors associated with the pandemic’s Great Resignation and nationally low level of unemployment?
Or, conversely, has there been a foundational and structural reset in the academic labor market for many staff (and some faculty), one that will create a new normal of campus understaffing?
Anyone looking for answers to these questions in The New Megatrends will not find them. The book barely mentions higher education, and when it does so, only in a superficial manner.
More surprisingly, for a book about the future, there is little analysis of the demographic (low fertility and population aging) and political (immigration policy) trends that will drive labor shortages across every industry in the decades to come.
However, the absence of analysis on the future of higher education does not mean that those interested in that future should avoid reading The New Megatrends.
The book is helpful in providing a framework in which to think about the future. Specifically, The New Megatrends takes as its future endpoint the year 2038. This date is close enough to make informed projections and draw out some plausible scenarios but far enough away that the delta between here and then is fascinating to contemplate.