How Can I Future Proof My Children?

We know that the future of work is so challenging for us and our future generation that parents today have no choice but to take a more active role in future-proofing their children and helping them to be future-ready and job-ready by acquiring employable and portable skills.

With the break down of social contracts between governments, businesses, workers and unions, we have no choice but to take things into our own hands.

We have to take charge of our future and help our children start right.

I am always reminded that people don’t plan to fail. Instead we worry, procrastinate, and fail to plan for our future. We just don’t take action now but wait for things to happen.

Let’s take the example of an aircraft emergency.

Parents are required to put on their own air-mask first before putting on masks for their children.

It is, therefore, vital for parents to be equipped with the required knowledge and understanding to future-proof themselves first.

Knowledge is king.

Once they have acquired and applied that knowledge for themselves, they are in a better position to future proof their own children, to guide them, and to show them what to do.

It’s so important for parents to future-proof their children now

There are many research conducted and papers written on the topic of how automation and robots will eliminate and create jobs in the future.

The predictions of how many new jobs are created and how many existing jobs will be eliminated in the future because of automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are varied. Some are pessimistic. Some are optimistic.

Regardless of what you think, what’s certain and inevitable is the fact that there will be new jobs created and existing jobs eliminated.

What’s important is that people need to be adaptive and willing to change and acquire new or different skills and experience.

Fear is okay, but complacency kills jobs.

Our children must not be complacent about the future. They should be future-proofing themselves now so that they can remain future-ready and job-ready.

As we rely on machines and automation to replace and augment our work, workers are expected to do more complex task and perform more interactions with people.

We are using machines to take over manual, repetitive or dangerous tasks from us.

This effectively means that our children will be moving up the value chain, doing much more complex task, doing more intellectual things, and doing more creative things.

To do higher value work and more complex tasks, they will have to aim for the highest possible educational level.

In my book, Shocking Secrets Every Worker Needs to Know: How to future-proof your job, increase your income, and protect your wealth in today’s digital age, I have documented 62 scary facts facing workers today.

These facts are equally applicable to our children.

Key things for them are housing affordability issues, the lack of or decreasing wage growth, and the decreasing real incomes when compared to our time.

It is only through proactively planning for our children’s future that they can future-proof themselves.

What is future-proofing?

Future-proofing is about anticipating the future and taking proactive steps to mitigate or overcome challenges now. The aim of our planning and action is to be future-ready and job-ready.

People don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.

Future-proofing requires the commitment to acquire the right knowledge and to know what’s happening in today’s workplaces and what’s predicted for the future of work, work of the future, and future workplaces.

When our children are future-ready, they can remain employable to meet the demands of the future workforce and employers.

They are also job-ready for specific jobs and employers when vacancies do come their way.

Skills of the future

Skills of the future will focus on those skills that machines, robots and artificial intelligence cannot do.

When people acquire these employable skills, they are more than likely to future-proof themselves from any negative effects.

Without a doubt, our children should be focusing on acquiring these employable skills now.

There are three broad categories of employable skills that our children should acquire in order to remain employable in the future.

1. Enterprise skills are required in many jobs. These are generic skills that are transferable or portable across different jobs and are in demand by employers.

a. These skills enable workers to engage with the complex world and effectively navigate the challenges they will experience and inherit in the future.

b. They are categorized into:

  • Thinking skills – includes sense making, computational thinking, cognitive flexibility, critical thinking, complex problem solving, and judgement and decision-making.
  • Interacting skills – includes Emotional intelligence, social intelligence, working with others, people management, virtual collaboration, service orientation, negotiation, persuasion, oral and written communication, organization, new media literacy, and technology literacy.
  • Creation skills – includes novel, adaptive, and situational thinking, creativity, curiosity and imagination, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurship, design thinking, and systems thinking.
  • Learning skills – includes continuous lifelong learning, teaching others, and coaching others.

2. Technical skills are skills that specifically relate to a particular task, role or industry (e.g., science, engineering, humanities and business studies).

3. Foundational skills cover various forms of

a. literacy,

b. numeracy, and

c. language.

First off, perform a gap analysis of what skills your children have and what skills they need in the future.

Then develop plans to bridge these skills (and knowledge) gap.

There are many free online courses that your child could enrol in for free or at very little cost. This is the easiest way to dip their toes into the water.

My daughters have done a number of these online courses and found it useful to supplement their school subjects and personal understanding.

Broken education systems

It is unfortunate that the current education systems are modelled on the industrial age or post-war requirements. These education systems are not effectively producing workers with skills of the future.

Many of them will not be future-ready and job-ready.

Years of study upfront, tens of thousands of dollars in course fees or student loan debts and an outdated Factory Model of Education that has barely changed for decades make less sense when technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are forcing skills redevelopment, in shorter cycles, across more professions and jobs.

Parents have to proactively oversee their children’s education in order to future-proof them.

They have to take a keen interest in the skills their children acquire in school and university.

I have enrolled my children into after-school coding clubs and Lego building classes just to build their interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in the future.

Jobs of the future

As mentioned earlier, automation will either eliminate jobs or create new ones. The net effect will depend on a number of factors.

Our children will most certainly take on jobs that do not exist today.

So, how do our children prepare for jobs that do not exist today?

The only way is to equip them with portable skills that could be used across different jobs within the same cluster.

The good news is that our skills are more portable than we realize.

There are seven job clusters that our children can fall into.

  1. The Carers cluster has a strong future prospect. It comprises of jobs that seek to improve the mental, physical health, or well-being of others.
  2. The Technologists cluster has a strong future prospect. It comprises of jobs that require skilled understanding and manipulation of digital technologies.
  3. The Informers cluster has a strong future prospect. It comprises of jobs that involve professionals providing information, education or business services.
  4. The Designers cluster has a moderate future prospect. It comprises of jobs that involve deploying skills and knowledge of science, mathematics, and design to construct or engineer products or buildings.
  5. The Generators cluster has a moderate future prospect. It comprises of jobs that require a high level of interpersonal interaction in retail, sales, hospitality, and entertainment.
  6. The Artisans cluster has a weak future prospect. It comprises of jobs that require skill in manual tasks related to production, maintenance or technical customer service.
  7. The Coordinators cluster has a weak future prospect. It comprises of jobs that involve repetitive administrative and behind-the-scenes process or service tasks.

As full-time employment gets replaced with part-time, casual or freelancing jobs, our children have to learn to be adaptive and change.

We already know that job security is dead.

It is without a doubt that our children will have to work for more than one employer.

It is predicted that 63% of the American workforce will be freelancing instead of having single employer jobs.

As such, we have to prepare our children for freelancing and entrepreneurship rather than straight employment with one employer, equipped with employable and portable skills.

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