As technological innovation continues to accelerate at breakneck speed, we are already seeing rapid changes in the job market. Technological disruption has eliminated a number of industries and has created brand new ones overnight with ever increasing rapidity. Think of search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and blogging – all of which did not exist or were in their infancy 10 years ago. Now they are multi-billion dollar industries that employ millions of workers worldwide.
According to futurist and EdTech expert Cathy Davidson there is a good chance that your child will end up in a job that you’ve never heard of. In fact, according to her estimates, over 65% of children entering elementary school will end up in jobs that don’t even exist yet.
So how do we as parents and educators prepare our children for the jobs of the future?
1. Encourage your child to become a fearless learner
The greatest lesson we can teach our children is that learning is a lifetime pursuit. Encouraging them to follow their passions, to build curiosity, to experience creativity, and to find enjoyment in exploration is a great way to start. Helping them develop the inner strength to become fearless learners that are unafraid to develop new skills comes next. While it is impossible to predict what the future holds, it is become increasingly apparent that workers of tomorrow will not be able to depend on a single skill for a lifetime career and that is embracing change is necessary. Teaching your child to simultaneously try new things while feeling confident during the exploratory
process is a state of mind that can lend itself to success in tomorrow’s workplace.
2. Teach leadership skills
Fostering leadership skills such as decision-making, goal-setting, confident communication, negotiation, and project planning can be done in variety of ways. As always, many of the lessons start in the home by being a good role model. There are also a multitude of activities, games, sports, and hobbies that can help kids develop these important skills. Whether it’s a scouting troop, student council, or hobbyist club, many activities are very well suited to leadership training in fun and engaging environments. Getting kids to understand that actions are more important than words and to develop an optimistic approach to problem solving increases the likelihood of success.
3. Build their skills in teamwork and collaboration
In the future, work will become multidisciplinary and will involve new forms of teamwork, including many innovations in digital collaboration. Whether it be playing on a sports team, participating in a volunteer organization, or taking part in a collaborative Minecraft club, teamwork-based activities allow kids to work with each other in project-based settings and help them develop these important skills.
4. Strengthen the core skills of reading, writing, and math
Excellent written communication and reading comprehension skills will continue to be critical skills in tomorrow’s world. As digital collaboration moves forward with innovative project management tools like Asana and Slack, written communication is more important than ever. Mathematics proficiency will naturally grow in importance with continuing advances in computer science, big data, and robotics.
5. Teach your child to code
One constant in today’s ever changing environment is that computer engineers clanking away on keyboards are behind a great deal of the changes that are affecting us all. Technology is touching nearly ever profession on earth, from medicine to manufacturing, and from services to construction. Learning the language of code can provide key benefits in understanding machine thinking, system design, process articulation, and data analysis. Even if your child ends up in a profession that does not actively involve writing code, understanding a programming language, the logic inherent in computational thinking, and the ways in which technology might be able to impact the working environment will add value for their companies. In addition, learning to code has a number of useful benefits including the strengthening of problem solving abilities, analytical abilities, and more.
What might future jobs look like?
While it is impossible to predict all of the examples of future jobs that we might see, it is quite fun to imagine some of them. (Below is an abridged list. Thank you Thrillist and Monster for sparking some ideas).
- Chief Productivity Officer: Using big data, these professionals will help companies become more productive while focusing their energy on the most impactful areas.
- Robot Consultants: These professionals will help families select robot models and software to bring maximum benefit to our home and work lives.
- Self-driving car mechanic: These mechanics of the future will need to develop skillsets including an understanding of AI, predictive analytics, and robotics.
- Re-wilders: These professionals will be responsible for reversing human caused environmental damage while helping to restore the environment to its natural state in deforested areas, waterways, marshes, and more.
- Garbage Designer: These engineers will turn waste into useful projects. This profession will require a strong background in science, engineering, and industrial design.
- Drone Traffic Optimizers: As drones become more prevalent, we will need ways to optimize traffic patterns and delivery times.
- Data Physicians: These MDs will treat patients by focusing on biographic profile and personal data findings than than their latest symptoms.
While it is impossible to predict technological innovations, it is possible to prepare our children for change and to develop skills that will allow them to succeed in an ever changing marketplace. It is also possible to begin evaluating and steering them away from at-risk professions that will likely disappear with advances in robotics and other disruptive technology. Most important is that we engage children’s interests and passions, and teach them that change is not frightening, but that it can be fun and exciting.