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The key to long term success is becoming “robot-proof,” says Amit Singh.

Singh, the president at Edmond Community College, says students need two things to compete in today’s economy and into the future.

“They need technical skills and they need higher-level mental skills,” Singh says in this episode. “We normally call those mental skills ‘soft skills’ such as problem-solving.

“Those skills are making you robot-proof. A robot cannot take those jobs.”

Singh says that technical skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas are important, but it takes more.

“Sometimes we hear the need for technical skills,” Singh says. “Yes, for the short term, but to survive long term you need more. That comes from a liberal arts education and then n top of that you have the technical skills.”

Singh, who grew up in India before coming to the U.S. for college, likens the approach to that of immigrants to a new land

“They know everything will be new and different,” Singh says. “They have to adapt. That’s the adaptive mindset we need.”

In a time when knowledge is as close as a YouTube video, Singh, who holds a Ph.D. in Economics and three master’s degrees, says Edmonds Community College and higher education, in general, are facing a similar challenge to adapt.

“Take the example of Blockbuster (video stores),” he says. “These are middlemen in the content transfer. They didn’t produce the content, the transferred it to (customers). What technology did was bypass the middleman and go direct to the customer.”

Singh says colleges are in a similar business of knowledge transfer and to adapt, they must take a page from what they are teaching their students.

“We cannot be outsourced if we do things right,” Singh says. “They ways we teach in the classroom and the wraparound services we provide for students are key. We have to be mindful to keep adding value.”

Episode length: 56:29

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