Harvard Innovators Empower Queens Middle Schoolers to Help Robot Proof their Future

As technology continues to define and alter the labor market, Saint Elizabeth Catholic Academy is taking action to prepare students today, for the jobs of tomorrow.

Social media marketing, sustainability management, cloud computing – these are just some of the fields that didn’t exist 10-15 years ago. A recent McKenzie report states that 51% of job activities can already be automated with “currently demonstrated” technology and this is just the beginning. The labor market may feel miles away for students entering high school today, but when an average college graduate in the US starts their career with $37K in debt, the choices these students make in school matter.

St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy principal Miss Jeanne Shannon teamed up with Profilum.org, a data-driven career counseling service based in Harvard Innovation Labs, to host a “Career Exploration Day” on Friday, February 16th. Ninety middle grade students benefited from going through a talent assessment and received personalized recommendations. Students participated in an interactive “job morph” game, during which they presented their vision of the future for careers as accountants, doctors, architects, and much more.

Dillon, an 8th grade student said, “My group and I thought that if we don’t embrace the future, we’ll fall behind and have difficulty succeeding.” The CEO of Profilum and current student at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Anna Shay, had the following to say: “It is important to engage students in thinking about the future. By equipping them with necessary skills and information, we help to make meaningful connections between education and future pathways. Technology can play a big role in providing access to relevant data whilst taking into account individual interests and motivational structures. That is definitely something we are excited to explore and bring into classrooms!”

Students learned how technological advancements drive the demand for new skills and used creative thinking to construct careers of the future. Emily, an 8th grade student said, “My group and I felt that Profilum gave us a chance to realize how important our generation is to the future, and how we must be creative in order to succeed.” Over the past few years college and career readiness has been high on the school’s agenda. The school partnered with NY State Senator Joseph Addabbo in the Fall to host a Career Day featuring leading companies and the nonprofit Middy Fund to work weekly on student’s social ventures and in the process develop key soft career skills.

“Profilum provided an excellent opportunity for our students to explore the emergence of new jobs, using technology of the future to build the vision of a career they will pursue down the road”, said Mr. William Ferguson, current PKA for All Site Director.