Business and Academic experts from around the world, have said that by 2030, 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist have not even been invented yet.  As such, the minds of our children should be unlocked to possibilities and not limited to the jobs and occupations of the present day.

 According to Dr.Rumeet Billian, President and CEO of Viewpoint Leadership, when we were younger we could not say, “when I am older I want to become a social media expert or a YouTube personality” because that did not exist. And that trend is likely to continue. Meanwhile, by 2030, 85% of jobs that will exist have not been invented so how do we prepare our kids for these anonymous jobs?

When you ask a child who they want to be when they grow up, we help them tilt their minds and focus to who they are and what they can do, which is very critical to this changing and innovative world.  According to organizational psychologist and Wharton management professor Adam Grant, we really shouldn’t be asking kids what they want to be when they grow up at all. Grant suggests the mere question is problematic in at least three ways. First, he notes ‘’it forces kids to define themselves in terms of work’’. The second problem with asking kids what they want to be when they grow up , according to grant, is that it reifies the idea that we all should have one true passion in life, as there are plenty of people who aren’t particularly drawn to one career, but wind up leading perfectly happy (and varied)lives anyway. And lastly, as Grant notes, ‘’careers rarely live up to your childhood dreams.’’ There is no point in urging kids to focus their energy on how amazing and fulfilling it would be to become a veterinarian or a pediatrician, only to have them encounter crushing disappointment when it turns out they feel faint around the sight of blood.  

Kids should be able to say they want to save lives when they grow up and not that they want to be doctors. When they can think that way, they can be able to express their reasons and see the real underlying emotions that are attached to such ambiguous decision. 

When you ask a child why she wants to become a police officer when she grows up and she says “because she wants to save lives” listening to that statement and focusing on “save lives” we open the door of possibilities. Because in saving lives, you can do that by being a doctor, a nurse, a social worker, a counselor and in many other ways. But when we focus on the ‘what’ we limit our children and the extent to which they can project their future.

In a world where systems are changing and landmarks are going extinct, preparing our children for the jobs of the future is a sure way to secure a good life at adulthood for them. With this in mind experts and scholars have written on various ways and methods that can help guide parents on how to do this right without frustrating their children. Below are five right tips to help prepare your child for future jobs proffered by Dr. Jaunine Fouché, Milton Hershey School STEAM and Agricultural and Environmental Education Director.

  • Do not praise intelligence, praise work ethic.

Research has proven that praising children for their intelligence will often make them less likely to challenge themselves. As a parent, we should focus on praising their work ethic–attacking a challenging problem and sticking with it shows their persistence, and next time they encounter an issue, they will approach it with more confidence.

Careers are more innovation-focused and that means we need to prepare our children for the rapid pace at which our world changes. We should be asking them how fast can you take advantage of the changes that will keep you relevant?

  • Recognize, celebrate, and reinforce the “four C’s.”

We should make it a priority to call attention to these foundational skills: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. These four C’s are often referred to as soft skills. In a globally collective culture where innovation is the norm, these are essential skills. These process skills are just as important, if not more important, than the end product.

Recognizing and celebrating the 4 C’s means parents need to take time to have conversations about the steps their child took toward a decision. For example, if you watch teams work together, effective teams work the 4 C’s successfully, and that leads to a good end product. The end product often falls apart or falls short of the mark with teams who cannot effectively work together.

  • Provide and allow latitude for choice and voice from young ages.

As a culture, it is hugely important that we gravitate toward things that interest us. We are wired to ask questions and poke our world to see how it responds. The old saying, “Because I said so,” does not go as far anymore with our youth. So if all we are asking of our children is compliance, we are not building the mindset that allows for independent reasoning.

For example, take your child to a grocery store and allow them to pick three different cereals to put in the cart. Explain that you are going to have your child put two of the boxes of cereal back, keeping only one. Then ask them to explain why they are not picking the other two. Your child is practicing choice and voice skills when they are being asked to reflect and evaluate their purchase through reasoning.

  • Model and practice metacognitive reflection when exercising choice and voice.

Metacognition–thinking about your thinking–will help your child to practice their voice and choice. Work with your child to reflect after finding a solution by asking, “Did I collaborate well? What stopped my creativity?” It may not occur to you to ask your child how they may have used their supplies or resources differently, but it is an important question for them to think about. Children do not do this automatically so, as parents, we too should model thinking and reasoning out loud in front of our children so they can start to cultivate those skills and build a mindset that allows them to improve their process for the next time.

  • Support and celebrate failure that leads to progress.

Failing forward gets us somewhere. It is not easy, but if your child fails and learned something from it, then the failure actually was a success. It is learning from the experiences that really allows your child to take two steps forward. Celebrating failures that move your child forward will help them tackle the next problem or job that comes along. You are also giving them the green light to push into areas that we would not have in the past for fear of them looking unintelligent. However, preparing our children for jobs that do not yet exist means this is a skill that will be deeply valued as the world of work continues to change.

Our 21st century learners are our newest innovators. To innovate we have to be intentional by providing opportunities and making these essential skills part of our children’s daily routines. When our children become comfortable with productive failure and motivated to tackle self-identified challenges, they become top-notch problem-solvers and open-minded thinkers. With these abilities and skillsets along with an innovative mindset, our children will be able to tackle any job that comes their way in the future.

By Dr. Jaunine Fouché

Milton Hershey School STEAM and Agricultural and Environmental Education Director

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