What does it take to future-proof our children?

  • FutureProofing2
In a rapidly changing world, traditional careers are under threat. So, how can we future-proof our kids when they face such an uncertain time ahead?
by Gillian Klawansky | May 03, 2018

“Sixty-five percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that do not yet exist,” says Michelle Lissoos, managing director of Think Ahead Education Solutions. Her company works with schools across South Africa, assisting them with implementing 21st century education technology solutions to prepare learners for today’s world.

“Rapid advances in technology are transforming the world of work, and by 2020 an estimated 83 million jobs around the globe will go unfilled due to lack of skills,” she says.

“Young people everywhere therefore need to develop skills to evaluate and apply knowledge in ways that meet the demands of our fast-paced, changing world.”

Even if they develop the necessary skills, our children live in a world with no guarantees, cautions Nikki Bush, co-author of Future-Proof Your Child (Penguin), written with Dr Graeme Codrington. “Even the best education in the world today cannot guarantee you access to a degree,” she says.

“Even a degree does not guarantee you a job. Even a job no longer provides security because change is happening. It is happening so dramatically that companies will follow suit if they’re not remaining relevant and meeting the needs of the new economy.

“Our children are likely to have portfolios of jobs. They’ll also have guaranteed periods of unemployment within those portfolios of jobs. So, we need to upskill them so that they can create an optional working life. They may choose to not work for a period where they’ll be upskilling, reskilling or learning. Or, they’ll be taking proper sabbaticals because there’s research to prove that more time off is better for your work performance.”

Rather than stressing about the lack of job security our kids may face, we can encourage them to embrace the opportunities this offers. “They might have various interests – and because of the Internet, which is creating an on-demand economy – they could sell their skills in different fields,” says Bush.

“There is no job security anymore. You need to build your own career security, and that career security will probably consist of a number of different income streams. At least 60% of our kids will have to be entrepreneurs and create their own jobs as an on-demand economy feeds into an entrepreneurial economy.

“Geographic borders won’t limit our children’s ability to find work, and they won’t limit companies when it comes to employing the right people to do the job.”

To meet the demands of this ever-changing, competitive working world, we need to bring up children who have five X-factors for success, says Bush. These are:

1.       Creativity and innovation

Companies will pay for innovative thinking. This might happen in a full- or part-time position, or even as part of crowdsourcing, where people are invited to give solutions online. We need to teach kids to really think by playing creative games, and brainstorming. Critical thinking skills will be important. We need kids with observation skills – they need to see where the gaps are in the market and grab opportunities.


2.       Loving learning

Our kids will likely work for 80 years because they’re going to live until 120, so they’re going to have to keep learning and relearning throughout their lives to remain relevant.


3.       Resilience

Kids need resilience because who you are will be far more important than what you do, or what you sell, as these factors will keep changing rapidly. If your child starts off with a job description that becomes obsolete within a year, how adaptable are they?


4.       Self-knowledge

Kids will need to know themselves well, so they can plug in in a way that is relevant to them and to the world.


5.       Being a team player

Whether online or offline, being able to build relationships and maintain them is going to still be vital in the future world of work.


When our children go for interviews, they’ll need to showcase these five X-factors over and above their matric and degree, continues Bush. “Top presentation skills and an ability to sell yourself and your ideas is paramount. Ultimately, we need a child who has a good balance between high tech and high touch.

Another key area in which kids need to be proficient is coding. Says Lissoos: “In today’s world, understanding the basics of code is as essential as maths and writing. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be known for disrupting nearly every industry and skill associated with coding (creative problem-solving, perseverance, collaboration) and will enable students and future employees to face this uncertain future.”


The changing face of careers

According to Bush, industries like retail, call centres, manufacturing, mining and construction are all declining because of automation. Intermediaries like financial advisers and travel agents may also no longer be necessary as we can do these things ourselves, although we may still need advice.

“Professions in danger for the first time are doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers,” adds Bush. “Parts of these jobs will be digitised, but they’ll keep the high-touch elements like relationships and counselling.

“For example, in the area of medicine, a scanner, smart toilets or smart pills will be able tell you everything that’s going on in your body. We’ll have smart medicine – medicines personalised and made to order specifically for you, according to your genetic make-up, which will be available through DNA analysis.”

But you’ll still need the human element, and the doctor will analyse medical results or design and operate the necessary machines. What’s more, healthcare and social services are growing industries, especially within an ageing population as people live increasingly longer.

Medicine is ultimately just shifting focus. The huge areas of growth are genetics, biotechnology, and research and development.

“Teachers also need to reinvent themselves,” Bush says. They need to be more facilitators than directors – facilitating educational experiences that have meaning.”

Other industries your kids may explore include sport and entertainment – or nanotechnology or micro-engineering.

The information technology industry, especially regarding internet security and privacy, is increasingly important – and the logistics industry is burgeoning as we go online.

And, in response to global warming, working in renewable energy will also be a big growth area.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Marcelle Ravid 03 May
    Great article! ORT South Africa holds Robotics, Coding for Beginners and Java Script for Intermediates at its Academy in Houghton. New courses to start in 3rd term from ages 9/10.
    Register your child: [email protected]/011 7287154


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