Lesson Plan: Preparing Students For Jobs of the Future

Learning Objective: Students will gain an understanding of how the changing economy will influence their futures.

IEI’s FutureWork Prosperity Tour included a series of information sessions at educational institutions and community centers across North Carolina, engaging students in thinking about the future and sparking their thinking about how best to align their educational plans with tomorrow’s realities. Students interacted with data and explored how automation and other economic shifts will impact their career choices. They also examined the skills they will need to have in order to be successful.

The sessions were designed as data-informed dialogues. Students used a touch tablet with preloaded software and data.  The data, pulled from NC Commerce and from analysis conducted by NC State Economist Mike Walden, focused on the skills of tomorrow and North Carolina job growth trajectories for the region and the state.   


Who – a small group exercise with students (no more than 30 students).

Location – a classroom setting.

Time Frame
– approximately 1 to 1.5 hours


Web Enabled Tablets OR Laptops

INTRO (10 minutes)

The facilitator will introduce the themes of FutureWork and its importance to the future workforce.

ACTIVITY #1: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? for the Automation Generation (30 minutes)

Students will be given a web enabled tablet computing device and directed to interface with the interactive Future Jobs platform via two online links.

Will Your Job Be Done By a Machine? – NPR

Will a Robot Take Your Job? – BBC

Each student will be asked to type in his/her future occupation.

  • Students will be asked to perform two task using the tablet:
    • Find the occupation with the least likely chance of being automated
    • Find the occupation with the highest chance of being automated
  • Students will be led in a discussion of what makes a job susceptible to automation.
  • Students will be prompted for their responses to why the occupation is or is not
  • Students will examine the skills that are likely to be automated in the future.
    • Job is highly routinized
    • Performed in small spaces
    • Level of creativity and novelty
    • Level of personal touch required
    • Already being automated
  • Students will be led in a discussion of why certain jobs are in high demand in the future. The discussion will focus on the skills that will be in demand by the new economy.
    • Job requires novel and adaptive thinking
    • Job requires creativity
    • Require collaboration with others
    • The ability to translate data and synthesize information

ACTIVITY #2: Is It Better to be a Town Mouse or Country Mouse? (20 minutes)

Students will be asked to examine how location is related to the changing economy.

Each student will be asked where they plan to live in North Carolina.

Students will be directed to the NC Commerce map for their region. They will be instructed to click through to the job profile for that region or county.

NC Commerce Star Jobs

  • Students will be asked to identify the growth jobs for their location.
    • Facilitator will survey the room to get some responses from students.
  • Students will be asked if their future occupation or similar occupation is on the list.
    • Facilitator will survey the room via raising of hands or verbal response.
  • Students will discuss the skills demanded by the growth occupations for each community.
  • Students will be asked how these potential changes will impact their future education plans.

ACTIVITY #3: What Will Your Future Hold? (30 minutes)


Facilitator will lead students in a discussion of what the demands of the future economy will be. Students will be prompted for their honest feedback on their concerns, fears, or hope for the future.

This discussion is best facilitated with integration of a local employer in the discussion (where possible). The focus will be on providing information to students on:

  • What can you do to make yourself competitive in the new economy?
  • What skills will you need to be successful?
  • Where will the new jobs be located?
  • What are the current job growth areas in the economy?



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