Emerging technology is constantly disrupting business and society. With technology changing more rapidly every day, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up. The World Economic Forum predicts emerging tech will destroy 75 million jobs by 2022 and create 133 million jobs over the same period, for net increase of 58 million jobs. These drastic changes have had a profound impact on the business world, and a highly-skilled labor force is now needed to fill this employment gap. Employees in a variety of fields are now expected to possess an expansive technological knowledge, as well as stay on top of the latest changes and trends. As technological literacy becomes more important to employers, institutions of higher education must prepare students to enter the rapidly changing technological job market.

Opus College of Business recognized these needs and wanted to help find a way to better prepare St. Thomas students for these technological changes in the workplace. They responded by creating an event series focused on emerging technology in business. EmTech St. Thomas is part of the Business for the Future initiative at the Opus, with a mission to prepare current and future leaders to excel in leveraging rapidly emerging and ever more sophisticated technologies; to address current business challenges; identify new business opportunities; and build new business models.

“The rapid pace and growing sophistication of emerging technologies is fundamentally changing business and society. During the fall, we identified the essential knowledge and skills people need to succeed in the workplace today and in the future,” said Lisa Abendroth, associate professor and one of EmTech’s organizers. “While technology and data literacy are obvious components, we also heard from industry about the importance of human skills such as the ability to navigate a problem space and implement new solutions with curiosity, creativity and consideration of unintended consequences.”

The initiative covers everything from virtual reality therapy for patients with Alzheimer’s, to discussions on the ethics of AI smart home technology. In doing so, Opus hopes to expose St. Thomas students to a broad view of relevant technological advances and skills suited for a new labor force.

“Emerging technology is helping people in ways we’ve never imagined,” said Enzo Vinholi, a St. Thomas student whose company uses VR to treat Alzheimer’s patients. “It changes the way we approach problems and come up with solutions.”

EmTech St. Thomas kicked off in early April and features 11 total events. The series dives into the intersection of emerging technology, business and society. A variety of events have been designed for undergraduate students, graduate students and the general public, with highlights including an AI showcase, an emerging technology conference, a look into U.S. Bank’s innovation center, and a stakeholder dialogue featuring New York Times Columnist Farhad Manjoo.

Vinholi was also featured in his own event April 11, which gave attendees the opportunity to experience his company’s VR technology. These events have already been a success, and EmTech St. Thomas aims to continue this initiative and allow students and the St. Thomas community to experience emerging technology firsthand. For more information about EmTech and upcoming events, visit www.emtechstthomas.com.

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