Robots, artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies are poised to radically change the future of work.
So how do we as parents and educators prepare our children for the jobs of the future? Here are some ways to prepare your child for jobs in an uncertain, highly disruptive future.
A 2017 McKinsey & Company report estimates that AI and robotics could eliminate about 30 percent of the world’s workforce by 2030. According to The World Economic Forum (WEF) report The Future of Jobs; the key to future success is having a set of ‘innovation skills’ and predicts that
In a nutshell, your kid could end up being a drone manager, a chief productivity officer, an autonomous transportation specialist or an end-of-life coach!
It’s worth remembering that occupations have been coming and going for centuries. We no longer have milkmen, switchboard operators or knocker-uppers (people who used to wake others up in the morning by knocking on their bedroom windows with a big stick).
About 85 percent of the gigs that were around in 1900 were obsolete by 2000, with technology driving many of these jobs out of existence.
However, there are now meaningful, well-paying jobs in areas that didn’t exist a couple of decades ago, from digital marketing manager to mobile app developer to data warehouse architect (a person who oversees the copious amounts of information companies now collect). And new professions will keep being created; according to a Dell Technologies report, a whopping 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t yet been invented.
Some jobs will vanish, while others will remain—but change
Lots of today’s careers will be available for kids to pursue when they’re grown up—they’ll just have slightly morphed, thanks to the incorporation of sophisticated technology.
For instance, we’ll always need doctors. But instead of those physicians spending days, weeks or months trying to figure out what’s wrong with someone, a supercomputer, fed reams of patient data, will spit out a diagnosis in seconds. Doctors won’t have to figure out the best medicines to prescribe, either—AI will cross-check a patient’s medical records with pharmaceutical data to come up with an individual treatment plan.
With a machine taking care of tests and results—and perhaps even intricate surgeries humans can’t do on their own now—doctors will be able to dedicate more time to improving their patients’ overall health and well-being.
It will be a similar story for other professions. For example, instead of a lawyer spending hours reading case law, a computer could quickly list the cases they might want to reference in front of a judge.
In education, AI could grade multiple tests or papers at once, while teachers could give students better learning experiences by, for example, “transporting” them back 100 years through virtual reality headsets to see what life in a different era was really like.
Teachers used to be repositories of knowledge, but now everyone has access to all that information. That means the most important qualities teachers will need will be the ability to encourage and motivate.
An educator’s job will also transform into training others how to use the information that’s available, and they’ll need to create learning environments that teach kids empathy and social skills.
What about hands-on occupations, like a construction worker, electrician and plumber? They aren’t going anywhere, but they’ll be increasingly high-tech, as workers use technology to create better and stronger buildings and respond faster to problems.
The skills your kids will need to succeed
“Softer” skills, such as resilience, curiosity, communication and empathy, will be in high demand in the future.
Creativity and collaboration are also increasingly important.
Kids of the future will also need to be more resourceful and determined than ever.
Work will almost certainly be more freelance- and entrepreneurial-based, with people having two or three jobs instead of just one. That’s partly because companies would rather hire someone for a few months than full time, but it’s also because people want more control over their work life. Frey thinks our kids will prefer to choose more meaningful employment—and to show up to the office only when they want to.
This means, however, that kids will need to know how to run their own businesses and how to assess risk and reward. Networking will become even more important, especially if more people work from home—another workplace trend that’s gaining steam—or begin building more businesses. “These skills are going to be so critical,” says Frey. “But they’re also really hard to teach.”
The current school system isn’t sufficient
More than ever, parents need to be thinking about how their kids are being taught and whether schools are preparing children for the future. Schools systems are too slow and don’t focus on creativity.
The elementary and high schools haven’t changed much since the Industrial Revolution when the future most kids were faced with was working on an assembly line.
A fascinating and eye-opening view is also shared in Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk: Do schools kill creativity? (the most popular TED Talk ever!).
Train your kid for the future
A Bloomberg job skills study asked 1,251 job recruiters at 547 companies about the skills they want in their professionals but can’t find.
The most important ‘sweet spot’ skills are more desired, but less commonly found.
Across industries, these four skills are:
- Communication skills
- Strategic thinking
- Leadership skills
- Creative problem-solving
Here are some ways to prepare your child for jobs in an uncertain, highly disruptive future.
Promote creativity and curiosity > Kids are curious by nature; let them be and push them to find out things for themselves.
Make problem-solving a fun thing > Use tinkering and construction toys; build a cool ride together!
Let them fail and try out different possibilities > It may frustrate them at first but they’ll feel extremely proud when they’ve succeeded by themselves.
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