The Coronavirus has dramatically reshaped the economy and the labor force. Since its rapid spread around the globe, we have experienced enormous shifts in how we work, where we work, and the technologies we use to stay connected.
COVID-19 can also lead to more job opportunities. “For example, if hybrid teams (some people in the office, some at home) become the norm, we’ll see a bigger investment in virtual collaboration tools, such as Virtual Reality for online meetings.”, said Gihan Perera, a business futurist and author of The Future of Leadership predicts.
According to Dell Technologies, 85% of the jobs in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. A report by the World Economic Forum also predicts that machines will do more than 50% of all labor globally by 2025. While many of today’s occupations will continue to be a part of the future – some will transform into something entirely new or disappear altogether.
Of course, we can not predict the future with accuracy. We have no idea what the world and the job market will look like in 2050, and we don’t really know what particular skills people will need. However, the only thing we know for sure is that: Change is happening. And much of what kids learn today will likely be irrelevant by 2050.
That’s why now’s the time to help build the skills they need to adapt to the future. So what kind of skills will they need in order to get a job, understand what is happening around them, and navigate the maze of life?
In this article, we describe the five skills young people will need, at work and in life, no matter what they do, to make the most of our technological society’s opportunities. By encouraging your kids to enrich these skills, and modeling them yourself, we believe your kids can adapt and stay ahead in this competitive, changing world out there.
#1. Asking questions
You might wonder why “asking questions” is also considered as a “skill”, and we even put it on top of the list. However, isn’t it so true that many of the greatest innovations of all time were created by people who dared to ask “Why” and “What if”?
“What is robotics used for?” “How can I use technology to send money to someone from the other side of the earth?” The answers to these questions are now radically different to those which were accepted five years ago. And, in the future, they will have changed even more.
“Why” is a powerful little question that has the potential to open the most interesting boxes – when your child starts asking questions, she is seeking to learn. She is looking for the true reasons behind something, which allows her to gain knowledge before attempting to offer new ideas. Rather than be seen as a form of disagreement, it can be an exceptionally powerful and productive method for evolving an idea. Questioning helps us learn, explore the unknown, and adapt to change.
However, many parents don’t seem to value questioning as much as we should. For the most part, in our workplaces as well as our classrooms, it is the answers we reward – while the questions are barely underestimated. In a world of information, knowing the right answer is actually becoming far less important than knowing the right question to ask. Kids should know how to search, research and frame the question they are really asking.
Kids are naturally curious about everything – they ask a lot of questions, and quickly learn who to turn to for answers. As parents, it’s essential to support kids in asking questions, especially questions that are useful for their learning. Prepare with your own answers to their “why” and “how” questions. And if you don’t know the answer, you could do some quick research with your child to figure out the stance on things. Rather than ignoring or dismissing every time your child has something to ask, let’s create an environment in your family, where questioning becomes a strength; where it is welcomed and desired. All those ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ may take some time and effort on your part to answer but will go a long way in developing intelligence.
The tales of Kodak and Nokia, almost forgotten giants of their industries, tell us that being an expert in a single fixed discipline undergoing large-scale disruption is precarious. We need the next generation not to have a rigid mindset or a fixed palette of tools at its disposal but, rather, to keep up with changes and to use everything available. If COVID-19 can teach us anything, it’s that resilience and adaptability are the key to survival through thick and thin in life. Our children will need to be adaptable to keep up with the rapidly changing world because we don’t know what’s coming.
“Whatever job your child ends up doing, he’s going to need to be adaptable to keep up with the changes.”, according to futurist Thomas Frey from the Da Vinci Institute in Colorado.
Help your kids learn to be resilient and adjust to different situations. Something didn’t go as planned? To achieve this, we must expose our children to change – to teach that the range of things they are interested in or can take joy from is not a static or finite pool. One day, you may be playing in goal; the next, on the wing. Both of these things are different, and are a unique challenge, but both can be just as rewarding and enjoyable. Help them use their problem-solving skills, and positive attitude to figure out how to get through it. The player that learns to embrace switching gear is the one who will reap the rewards!
#3. Creativity, innovation & imagination
While robots and computers are going to be doing a lot of work in the future, they will be able to do only so much because they lack human qualities like inventiveness and imagination. It is then up to the architect, engineer, or designer to bring “humanness” to these machines, and this is where creativity comes in.
Although skills such as data analysis and interpretation are likely to grow in demand, it will involve a lot more than number crunching. “No longer are we interested in simply collecting data, we need to be able to use it to make informed decisions,” says Louise Watts, co-director and founder of Transition Hub.
Creativity and innovation – also mean a permissiveness to engage in risk-taking that may not lead anywhere meaningful – but which may yet create an amazing outcome. Too often, we constrain things by immediately ruling out an idea or activity as unviable; in fact, we should not be killing momentum at the start, we should be encouraging permission to rule everything in and refine an idea along the way.
Encouraging self-directed play and doing anything crafty is a great way for kids to explore their curiosity. If your kids need encouragement, choose a day of the week to be a making-day. Turn one wall into a gallery of their creations. You could even keep a whiteboard or pinboard in the kitchen that they get to decorate every day.
Many kids have a fear of failure. But the kind of whirlwinds being swept up in the future global economy demand a recognition that continual improvements and changes of direction are necessary. Of course, none of us likes failing, but learning to identify deficiencies and improve upon them is becoming a vital skill. That is why we at Everest Education love to apply project-based learning models to our classrooms, which can make time for invention, iteration, and enhancement can often be a better learning tool than having the one correct answer to a very specific question.
As Oprah Winfrey once said: “A person can change their future by merely changing their attitude.” A positive attitude is a crazy wonderful thing – it determines how others perceive you, and how you perceive yourself and the world.
In traditional education, success often seems like a binary game of “fail” or “pass”. But in this modern world, parents need to construct teaching as a narrative that encourages risk-taking, and helps your children back up on their feet, to enable them to learn from trying things out in various different ways en route to enhanced understanding. Strive to be a motivating parent and teach your kids how to focus on the positives in any situation. Congratulating your kids on their successes or attempts at something and praising them often will help improve their self-confidence.
While we are seeing early prototypes of “social” and “emotional” robots in various research labs today, the range of social skills and emotions that they can display is very limited. The feeling is just as complicated as sense-making, if not more so, and just as the machines we are building are not sense-making machines, the emotional and social robots we are building are not feeling machines.
Socially intelligent employees are able to quickly assess the emotions of those around them and adapt their words, tone and gestures accordingly. This has always been a key skill for workers who need to collaborate and build relationships of trust, but it is even more important as we are called on to collaborate with larger groups of people in different settings. Our emotionality and social IQ developed over millennia of living in groups will continue to be one of the vital assets that give human workers a comparative advantage over machines.
Social intelligence does not just bring your child success, but also ensures her a happy and fulfilled life. Cultivate social intelligence in your children by letting them interact with others their age, whether through play dates or extracurricular activities. Teach them to recognize how another is feeling, showing kindness, and taking the time to really listen, develop their ability to connect to one another in compassionate and meaningful ways. Mastering how to cope with challenging situations will encourage your child to be socially and emotionally intelligent from an early age will grow to be a confident, thoughtful, and caring leader.
The future belongs to our children
Yuval Noah Harari – bestselling author of Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – once said in his books: “To keep up with the world of 2050, you will need to do more than merely invent new ideas and products, but above all, reinvent yourself again and again.”
To survive and flourish in such a world-changing as fast as it is, it matters far less what your children choose to study than the skills she builds. She will need a lot of mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance. She will have to repeatedly let go of some of what you know best, and learn to feel at home with the unknown. We shouldn’t just fill up our youngsters with today’s knowledge; that, tomorrow, could become stale and dry. But we can ignite a chain of curiosity that will develop skills to make better children and resilient, flexible adults, able to adapt to and build the future.
All of tomorrow is on offer to our children, they just need an open and curious mind to embrace it!