5 Things Your Kids Need to Know About the Future of Work

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I think it’s safe to say that as mums, we all hope our children will be successful in their future careers. Defining success has never been a clear-cut matter – but now, as the fourth industrial revolution advances, the nature of career success is changing.

If you were to ask people from my parents’ generation to name some career paths that could lead to success in life, they’d be likely to respond with “solicitor” or “accountant”.

But according to experts at the World Economic Forum, the jobs of lawyers, accountants and many others are poised to become redundant in the near future.

With accounting software becoming increasingly more sophisticated, more businesses are able to handle their own accounting. As a result, fewer people need accountants. There will probably come a time in the future when all accounting tasks can be automated.

Likewise, legal work such as contract creation and fraud detection is increasingly becoming automated. In the near future, lawyers and machines will likely work together to perform clients’ legal services – but the numbers of lawyers needed to perform the work may decline. Once “safe” jobs such as legal assistant and paralegal are in jeopardy of being automated out of viability all together.

So what will define success for our children in the future? What sorts of work will our children do to earn their livings?

The truth is, nobody knows, exactly — because we can’t even conceive in our imaginations what the future’s most coveted jobs might look like. Twenty years ago, we didn’t have job opportunities like cloud architect, mobile app developer or social media manager. We can guess at the sorts of job titles that might become available in the future. But there will no doubt be some major surprises in store for us as new technologies pave the way for new career opportunities – and render other careers obsolete.

According to the experts, here are some of the keys to remaining employable as the Fourth Industrial Revolution accelerates:

1. Ongoing Learning Isn’t Optional

In the past, it was typical for everyone to pass through distinct phases as life’s journey unfolded. First came education. Children went to school, and then some went on to study at uni. Then, as people began their careers, the education phase was mostly behind them.

In the future, things will be different. As technology advances, many of the things you learnt at uni will gradually become obsolete. You will be obligated to keep up with the technologies that affect your employer’s business and your employer’s clients’ businesses.

How will you do that? Well, it’s up to you to figure that out. Some of you will be lucky enough to have your employer’s help with training and upskilling – but you can’t necessarily count on that as always being a possibility. You will probably have to be proactive about it on your own. Luckily, there are more learning resources available now than ever before, including Youtube, MOOCs, professional certifications, online degree programs and books.

What about your kids? It’s ideal if you can help them become lifelong learners from an early age. To inspire them to love learning, you can begin by encouraging your toddler’s natural curiosity. Answering her questions is helpful, but you can also praise her for asking great questions in the first place. As the praise accumulates, she will soon learn to feel rewarded for her curiosity. Curiosity is an important prerequisite for important research, discoveries and inventions  – so it’s a habit you definitely want to encourage.

2. Team Problem-Solving Skills Will Become Critical

Researchers have determined that teams solve perplexing problems better than individuals do. Yet, unless your child enrols in an MBA programme, s/he’s unlikely to receive formal training in the art of team problem solving.

Luckily, there are some relatively easy ways your child can acquire these skills. Participating in team sports is one possibility. Volunteering is another. Either of these activities is likely to motivate your child to get comfortable with functioning as part of a problem-solving team.

3. Human Resources Skills Will Continue to Be Important

No matter what technological changes are in store for us, businesses, governments and the economy will still exist to serve human beings.

Furthermore, many companies will need professional help with transitioning their staff through the massive changes that are underway. Inevitably, some jobs will be lost to automation. Significant numbers of workers will need to be transitioned from obsolete roles into viable ones. These changes translate to huge opportunities for capable human resources professionals who have the necessary training and experience to successfully direct the workforce transitions.

4. Emotional Intelligence Will Be Crucial

As long as you work for a company whose customers are human beings, human warmth and empathy are likely to play a role in building relationships with those customers. This is true across all industries, from healthcare to manufacturing to finance. So, it is possible that jobs requiring high levels of emotional intelligence may well be safe from automation for the immediate future.

5. Creativity Is Likely to Become More Important

Experts at the World Economic Forum report that many corporate leaders do not fully understand the scope of the opportunities that are available to them as a result of the fourth industrial revolution. Undoubtedly, new opportunities are there for seizing – and it will take creativity to imagine and implement them.

Maybe it’s time for us to stop worrying about the potential for job losses, and embrace the opportunities we have yet to create for ourselves. The market has historically rewarded the producers of creative and worthwhile innovations, and we have every reason to believe it will continue to do so. Let’s encourage our children to develop their creativity and to maximise these opportunities. It will be fascinating to see the outcome of their efforts.

These are 5 of the most important things our kids need to understand about the future of work. Even if your children are still small, it isn’t too early to start teaching them the fundamentals of these lessons. It’s exciting to realise how much of a positive influence you can have in assisting your kids with the task of navigating a complex and unpredictable future.

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