Most of the jobs our kids will be engaging when they start their professional lives do not exist yet. That is a shared understanding of the future, raised in every school meeting or social gathering with other parents. And so, every parent across the planet is constantly haunted by the million-dollar question - How to successfully prep our kids for a future we do not know yet? Interesting enough, I found out that as we think about their future, we are also thinking about our own.
Think about education. There are so many big decisions we need to make with lifelong consequences for our loved ones and ourselves. It is important to get them right, and a good start is understanding what hints we have from the future of work and how we can translate them into the best action list to guide our kids' education journey.
Knowing the background
The pace of change in the coming years will be ruthless, and that makes a not easy task for today's' chief futurist officers. Technology is progressing so fast and disrupting business and value chains so deep that is becoming harder to understand how people will relate to the concept of work in that future. According to the World Economic Forum, we are going through such broad and profound disruptive times, that we are living a new genuine revolution, the 4th Industrial Revolution. The progress on technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Robotics, and others will massively displace workers and eliminate entire classes of jobs and at the same time, create an unimaginable wealth to the successful companies applying those technologies. Undoubtedly new jobs will be created around those technologies as well as new ways to compensate people for their work. The potentially bigger problem we started to tap into is a time window where more people will lose their jobs than news jobs will be created - specifically in the next decade. That will require attention from governments and solutions from the major players. Gladly, those new technologies will generate so much wealth that governments and big institutions are debating about new solutions such as the creation of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) - a way to create an economic counter-cycle and help families around the globe to survive. One of the big differences with the other Industrial revolutions and that scares even the most conservative analysts is the time of deployment of this new technology wave. We are counting time in years, while we counted decades in the previous ones. It means there will be not a lot of time to prepare an entire generation going rapidly to professional obsolescence, and concurrently work fast to adapt the education system to train the new generations for new professions, new fields and new ways of learning. Roll up your sleeves. There is a lot to learn.
Sit on the pilot chair of your kid's education
Just selecting a good prep school and let them "educate" your children will not do it. As social and tech changes accelerate, so it has our kids' education.
The education industry will have to adapt to new demands and create a dynamic integrated environment where skills become building blocks. Blocks that can be aggregated in different ways to produce different results. And so, as the future changes, learned skills are not obsolete but rather transferred and re-purposed into new outcomes. The constant change on desired outcomes requires a lot of good energy from parents and kids to adapt and transform, and the first task of parenting is to make your kids hungry for learning. Learning must be exciting, made of real experiences and activities kids want to engage. The best present we can give our children is a growth mindset where the drive to learn is the foundation for everything they will do in life. Therefore, it is the parents' most important role to sit on the pilot chair of their kids' education and drive it towards the future, until the moment kids are ready to retake the seat from their parents. Do not delegate that to any school or tutor.
What will future jobs require
As new technologies spread out, it is already clear that any task that can be automated by robots will be. For the simple reason that companies will save a fortune using computers instead of people and in most cases with better quality and more consistent results. Same old, same old, since the beginning of farms mechanization. The Same principle applied to new fields and jobs. The World Economic Forum (WEF) for example, deems 5 million office jobs are at risk of being eliminated before 2020 ends, in just three years. And that is just the start. 9 to 5 jobs where you have a defined routine, a static outcome and making the same decisions over and over will be part of the past in less than a decade. Even areas with human interface have the potential to be replaced by computers. The remaining jobs will be the ones that require complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, strategic and systemic thinking. Those skills will not be replaced by AI in this first wave and will need humans to teach robots "how to think" initially. We need to help our kids to be thinkers and curious, to identify patterns and reapply them in new fields, to see relations on different topics and feed them to their creative appetite in a productive way, making them real innovators and problem solvers. Another important duty for parents is giving them access to multiple and diverse sources of information. Different points of view will help them to make broader connections and stimulate their critical thinking. In this globalized world, we need to help them expand their horizons, understand different cultures, explore new ideas and different solutions to the same problems. Those skills have application to any profession, in any field. Another essential skill to deal with a highly dynamic and constantly changing future is resilience. When we are trying to solve a problem, or innovate in a new field, it might be frustrating not to find the solutions we need in our first try. We all need to be resilient and have the grit to try it again over and over, even when results are not satisfactory. Music, Sports, and e-sports, for example, can help a lot to develop resilience, creativity and many other critical skills. Parents need to work with their kids to find activities they like, want to engage and commit.
Love to learn
Natural and applied sciences are developing so fast, powered by edgy technology, that a study noticed that in some high-tech fields, what students have learned in the first year of the course is already obsolete by the time they finish the fourth year of the course. And that trend is accelerating. So, the notion that one can attend a four-year undergrad course, learn a profession and then apply in the next three decades is completely dead. Graduation is no longer the objective but merely the kickoff. Remember that growth mindset and passion for continuous learning are essential.
Knowledge and new hard skills will have to be grouped in shorter cycles of learning and at a higher frequency. So, it will be part of everyone's routine dedicate long hours to self-education, as a condition to keep relevancy on what we do for a living. And that makes so important to find our kids schools that center on individualized education. Schools were truly helping them to enjoy learning while respecting their characteristics and personality. That is key to nurture high self-esteem and pride of accomplishment, two cornerstones of happier, socially apt, secure and decisive adults.
Be passionate about what you do
That takes us to the next hint about the future of work. Help our kids to find their passions and transform them into deep expertise. Once we have eliminated routine tasks with automation, basic social interactions with social robots and low-level decision making with AI, we will be free to produce more intellectual work, be creative and take the time to better care for each other. The unparalleled amount of wealth created will open the possibilities to compensate better social workers, volunteers, teachers and academicians as we have never before. Professions on social and intellectual fields will flourish and be potentially better compensated than today. Concomitantly, the amount of time dedicated to leisure will keep growing, and that means the market to consume any art form as music, gaming, and design will also grow exponentially. Professions that are not well remunerated today and sometimes seen as hard to make a living will flip the table and be more lucrative. With less economic concern about professions, passion will be the primary driver of success in the future. The amount of energy dedicated to learning and grow in a profession will define how successful one can be, and passion is the key ingredient of dedication. That is not different from today of course. The difference is that we can apply that concept to any field with less fear of watching our kids not being able to afford a comfortable life for themselves. The bigger one's passion is, the greater success potential will be.
Be technology savvy
Rest no doubt that technology will be part of every profession in the future. Computer, Cloud, AI, Automation tools, VR, robots will be all integrated into the typical working day. Digital literacy and technology familiarity are also indispensable in this view. Give your kids access to computers within the safe limits, and let them create and play with it, might add digital resourcefulness to their list of skills. And natural digital ingenuity will be key to gain agility and speed when developing new work. That makes me think about what technology averse parents are causing to their kids in the future. I see more potential harm than benefits. Limiting time might be good, obliterating will not.
You know the Skype calls your kids love to entertain? That is already a significant first step to their future work. Two trends are shattering the typical workplace as we know it. Cross-field collaboration and collective thinking. The complexity of new projects is raising, and more cooperation and teamwork have been required to get work done. New networks of professionals are formed to solve problems, from a simple product launch to finding solutions to global warming. And new tools like Slack are born to help teams be organized and communicate. More and more those teams are virtual and pluricultural, and virtual meetings, chats, and other collaborative tools are being used to get work done. And all that put new challenges to leaders and team members on how to be effective. Master communication skills (especially listening), embrace diversity and heartfelt collaboration.
Think as an entrepreneur
If from one side the tech trends are set to eliminate many jobs we know today, on the other hand, new jobs types will surge around those technologies and as consequence of their implementation. Another social trend contributing to the transformation started with millennials not willing to be as committed to their work contract as their predecessors, the X-gen. With better education, more capital available to venture and broader possibilities to create, millennials started to look at the old career in a company as prison cells -long hours, toxic environment and slow pace of professional growth. The value equation began to look better as entrepreneurs than full-time employees. Many businesses started to learn how to create more flexible working environments, adding mobility and flexibility to attract new talent. Combining all trends together it is logical to think that hybrid teams will grow as a solution to accommodate limited talent from one side and some new entrepreneurs on the other one. Hybrid teams will be assembled with cross-field talent, internal and external resources, deep experts and professional networks to combine skills and competencies needed to a project or task. That will create new opportunities to entrepreneurs with high expertise in their fields, to engage in different projects without being tied by a working contract. With that in mind, we need to help our kids to develop the skills needs to feel comfortable with thinking creatively, project management risk taking.
Education starts at home. An apple does not fall far from the tree. Being role models to ethical behavior is of utmost importance. Making ethical and moral topics nonnegotiable every time will build on their character. If the world ethics seems to be collapsing, I am sure there has been a lack of role models. We need to leverage every opportunity as parents to teach them how to be responsible, act correctly, aim the greater good and not to be selfish. We need to love and take care of them, so they learn how to love and care for others. Do not delegate that. Failing at this task will mean failing to raise decent human beings.
Help yourself! All those skills will become the mainstream in less than a decade. As you prepare your kids for this future, you have an opportunity to re-think your trajectory and prepare yourself for this transformation.
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