How can kids prepare for the jobs of the future?

The phrase “the jobs our children will do in the future don’t even exist today” is nothing new in itself. You would have heard employment commentators saying it over a decade ago (if not even further back), but it is a phrase that is especially pertinent today.

Jobs of the future.

The Digital Revolution is just that – a genuine revolution – resulting in a seismic shift in the way we work, play and live our lives. The technology revolution that we are currently immersed in shows no sign of relenting either. Therefore, it is no surprise that parents, educators and employers ask the same question: How do we best prepare the children of today for the workplace of tomorrow?

In truth, there is no way anyone can accurately predict exactly what the future will look like, but we can take generic (but very sensible) advice that will stand children in good stead for the future.

What predictions are there about the future?

The workplace is constantly evolving. The Gig Economy – and the rise of the casual, freelance or contractor worker – has severely disrupted the employment landscape. Workers are already moving from job to job far more than ever before. These trends are only set to continue.

The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and robots and the future of work was viewed as such a vital issue that it become the topic of the World Economic Forum’s study and research in 2016. The World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs” study suggested that as many of 5 million jobs will be lost by as early as 2020 as a result of automation.

It is estimated that 65% of today’s primary school pupils will end up working in jobs that do not even exist yet.

The pace of change creates even more unpredictability.

The workplace revolution that we are currently in will prove to be the biggest shake-up in the world of employment since the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century.

It is the increasingly accelerated pace of change that is incredibly significant. Take the rise and rise of Facebook as an example. There are others too.  Think of Airbnb – the world’s biggest room-booking platform – that doesn’t own any hotels itself. It is not even 10 years old yet. Uber, meanwhile, despite its recent troubles, has become the world’s biggest taxi service in less than a decade.

The potential of apps is perhaps best exemplified by the story of Pokémon GO. The game took just 2 months to reach 50 million users. It earned over $1billion in revenue in a single year.

The key to the future is learning

The key to the future, and the extent to which today’s children will be prepared to work in jobs that are yet to be created, lies in learning. That should be no surprise, of course – it’s what children do at school after all!

More importantly, however, children need to have ‘learnability’ – a desire for learning, a skill for picking up new things, and a passion for developing and constantly updating their own skill set.

Skills in mathematics and computer science are seen as being at the forefront of the technical skills that will be required for the future. However, it is important to develop soft skills, such as cooperation and empathy, and social skills alongside more these technical attributes. Workers of the future are much more likely to need to share, negotiate and move swiftly and seamlessly between projects and from job to job. Soft skills become vitally important.

We do not exactly what changes the future will bring, so for children it is best for them to learn how to learn so that they can update their knowledge and skills themselves.

A passion for learning can be promoted both at home and in school. It is now more important than ever that parents and teachers instil that passion in children.