For a long time we’ve celebrated particular skills and subjects that we’ve always believed would result in our kids succeeding. These subjects often included Maths and Science and we put an emphasis on the skills that would push our kids into career paths that were “hot”, as Michael Price, an entrepreneur and author of What Next? The Millennial’s Guide To Surviving and Thriving in the Real World, puts it.
But Price explains:
“Prior to Generation X you could get and maintain a well-paying job and stay there for 20-40 years. Those days are long gone. As we move from one generation to the next, parents pass along life advice to their children hoping to inspire them to achieve what they did and more. That was the model for parenting and it worked up until now. The problem is the world moves much faster nowadays… Thirty years ago a parent would love for nothing more than for their child to grow up and pursue a career as a lawyer or a doctor. Thirty years ago those careers were hot. They were well paying and prestigious. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore.”
So what then are the skills our kids should be learning for the jobs that will dominate in the information technology revolution and the subsequent fast-paced world?
1. Critical thinking and problem-solving
Schools need to teach children to ask questions and think for themselves. Not only do they have to ask questions, they have to learn to ask the right questions, to interrogate data and get to the bottom of things. Imagine computers doing most of the programming: we’ll still need to tell the computer what problem to solve, what questions we need answered. As in any generation, there will be new problems we can’t foresee now. Help your child to think of solutions to their own problems instead of being blinded by them.
2. Collaboration and leading by influence
Teach children to cooperate rather than use top-down authority. Multidisciplinary, multiskilled teams are already more common. Teach your child to be a good team player, to know their own strengths and to see how they can apply those skills and talents to compliment others’ strengths.
3. Agility and adaptability
Children need to be constantly re-learning to keep up with a fast-moving environment. Technology births new programmes and gadgets every day, and in their work life, our kids would need to be able to jump on it, try it out, and even improve on it quickly. There will be new industries and new opportunities, and the better our kids can adapt, the more ahead of the game they’ll be.
4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism
Children have to be inspired to become ‘doers’ and innovators. Gone are the days where we sit back and wait for a big company to give us jobs. And for the kids, things will be even less linear. We’ll have to teach them how to think business, even (especially) if they’re an artist.
5. Good oral and written communication
Communicating clearly is key in the knowledge economy. In an environment where more people may be working remotely and only connect via devices, old-fashioned skills like reading body language may be of less relevance. Teach your kids to convey their ideas and emotions clearly and concisely – at least for formal business situations. And while mother tongue education will remain crucial, it’s vital that our kids will be able to speak and write English correctly and fluently.
6. Accessing and analysing information
Children need to distinguish between the fake and the factual. Fake news is not news any more, it’s become part of the fibre of media consumption. Whether it’s malicious disinformation, fake information for the sake of raking in advertising revenue, or rumours that go viral: teach your child to discern between what’s real and what’s not.
7. Curiosity and imagination
Children should be inquisitive and creativity should be encouraged. Let them play! Give them space, let them be bored. Pique their interest with fun DIY projects and experiments, and let them read, read, read.
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