High School Math Students Worry About Future Jobs Due to Generative AI, Survey Finds

A survey conducted by the Society For Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) during this year's annual M3 Challenge (MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge) in March 2024 showed that nearly half the high school students participating in the contest who responded to the survey worry that generative AI will impact their future job prospects. More than half say their schools are not doing enough to prepare them, according to a release.

The survey polled 825 11th- and 12th-grade students from the U.S., and sixth form students from England and Wales, out of 3,000 taking part in the M3 Challenge.

Significant student response findings include:

  • Over 48% believe soft skills such as reasoning and creativity will be more in demand than hard skills;
  • It will be hard for students "to reach their full potential in a generative AI world," said 47%, if they have to rely on technology more than their own skills;
  • Generative AI will impact nearly every career, and the tool must be mastered in order to succeed in school and at work;
  • Almost half expressed concern about loss of jobs due to automation;
  • Only 19% think AI will bring greater productivity;
  • Schools are not doing enough to prepare students for an AI future, 68% said; and
  • Most (68%) felt that those with reasoning and math skills would be more likely to succeed in future careers involving AI skills.

Asked how they can best be helped to prepare for such a future, students said their schools should:

  • Offer guidance about AI ethics of content creation, misuse, and plagiarism (62%);
  • Provide training on using AI tools for academics (58%);
  • Teach about AI's limitations in academics (41%); and
  • Help students plan their future by identifying careers likely to be disrupted by AI (38%).

"The survey demonstrates that many students feel that they need to take steps now to prepare for an evolving workplace," said Karen Bliss, SIAM's senior manager of education and outreach.

"Interestingly, one in five students would like to see schools offer extracurricular activities to boost their AI skills and experience, while almost as many think it would be helpful if teachers make using generative AI tools mandatory in assignments," she added.

For other findings, read the full news release.

Read more about the challenge on SIAM's M3 Challenge page.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.