Teach them well and let them lead the way…
Many of the challenges that our children may face as adults will differ from the challenges that we face. This is, in part, due to the fact some of today’s jobs will not exist in 10 years’ time. And whilst it is difficult to know what tomorrow’s job roles will look like, there are certain things we can be sure of: they will require both cognitive and social skills in equal measure. That is to say, in order to succeed in a fast-paced, ever-changing world, your child will need to master hard and soft skills in equal measure. Still unsure how best to guide your worker-to-be? We’ve listed seven skills that we think your children will need in 10 years’ time, that are likely to be key to future success.
Hard Vs Soft Skills
Hard skills are measurable and can be learned from a book, such as writing, maths, science or computers. Soft skills are the traits that make you a well-rounded person, such as manners, listening and getting on with other people. With all the focus and attention given to technology and systems these days, it is easy to think that your child will need to be a budding coder or digital engineer in order to have any chance of getting ahead in the future job market. It is highly likely that the majority of jobs will be in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) -related fields. Even for jobs that are not particularly rooted in these subjects, it is necessary that your child grows up with proficiency in these areas in order to understand the world around them.
However, there has been a focus shift recently to another set of skills that are often overlooked in our technology-driven world. No matter what field your child goes into, employers will always want employees with good soft skills who can communicate, collaborate and think outside the box. Even STEM subject graduates will have difficulty in finding good jobs if they don’t have some of these softer skills mastered.
Soft Skills That Your Children Will Need
Good communication skills are certainly going to be vital. We must raise children who can say how they are feeling, what they mean and what they need. Successful communication involves being well understood, hearing what people say and meeting others’ needs, and therefore the ability to listen is also essential. From a professional standpoint, children will need to request favours, discuss dilemmas, give instructions, work in teams and interact with colleagues and clients.
Today, we are constantly connected with those around us via a screen (right now, even more so than ever!). Going forward, this could lead to children growing up with a lack of confidence in face to face interactions. Being able to engage with someone in-person or even through a digital interface might not seem like something we need to teach our children but it is becoming an increasingly important skill.
We’ve all heard the expression “put yourself in their shoes”, but just how good are we at doing that? We are increasingly learning to become well-attuned to our own feelings and emotions, but getting into someone else’s head can be more difficult. Empathy involves emotionally understanding and being aware of what another person is experiencing. It is vital for building and maintaining healthy relationships, and for working more effectively. Interviews, negotiations, creating, handling conflicts, teamwork, teaching…the list of instances where you need empathy at work goes on!
Artificial intelligence and virtual reality might be able to turn our kettle on whilst we are out (or answer difficult questions in a few seconds) but it is very unlikely they will ever be able to relate to a human as other humans can. So, while technology is taking over many day-to-day tasks, there are some things that it cannot help with. One of these is being able to sincerely and authentically relate to another. This is apparent even while building a website, for example. Whilst we might think that this is solely a technical task, even designers must think about how other humans might think, feel or react to what they see.
The nature of work has changed rather considerably over the last 10 to 20 years. Traditionally, it has often been about an individual’s actions and accomplishments. As our world evolves, jobs of the future will not depend only on knowing facts and numbers but also a high level of collaboration. We need to constantly work with others in order to discuss, design, create, and produce. There is rarely a book written by one author, a podcast produced by one host, a company run by one decision-maker, or a social media account managed by one person.
The world is all about collaborating and the demand for these skills will only increase as more jobs become automated and high-value work gets farmed out to teams. Of course, parents should pay attention to how their children work and perform academically, but also monitor how they play with others and resolve conflicts with friends or siblings. Teaching children how to work with and involve others, as well as make them feel supported, valued and empowered, is of great importance.
4. Learning to fail
There is a misconception that failure is solely negative. Perfectionist culture can be damaging, and I believe that we must teach our children to understand we are never the finished product. More than just seeing failure as “okay”, we must show our children that it is, in fact, essential. There is no endpoint to learning and development and we will never know it all. We will learn all our life and making mistakes along the way is an essential tool in growing and using our talents.
If we raise children with a mentality that they should always try to learn about things they do not understand, then they will develop resilience. Learning to push through fears and failures and emerge on the other side is an invaluable lesson. We must raise a generation that fears something and does it anyway. If children can understand and embrace mistakes, knowing that mistakes change and develop you, they will grow up with determination and an ever-curious mindset.
Hard Skills That Your Child Will Need
1. Another language
Whether it’s communicating with someone in your community, or something thousands of miles away, fluency in other languages is becoming a vital skill. In our increasingly interconnected society, children need to have the opportunity to engage with the world in a more professional and meaningful way. Another language gives you a competitive edge, and it also facilitates seeing the world, gaining perspective, deepening your connections with other people and their cultures. As well as this, there are many cognitive benefits to learning multiple languages such as increased memory and better listening skills.
2. The logic of code
Coding is an example of another language! In coding, every letter of our alphabet has a unique formula that represents it. These formulas give us the technology we know and use; the codes tell the iPhone, for example, how to perform certain tasks. The best way your child can understand the technology around them is by learning this language of coding and being able to speak “technology”. For many of today’s leading businesses, coding is an essential skill. There are apps now that can teach your children to code before they read! Kids these days must learn how computers solve problems, understand sequences and operations and work with functions. Coding does not just teach formulas, it can also develop creativity, maths and writing in children.
3. Adapting and Solving
There really is no telling what tomorrow’s jobs will be, or what technology we will need to master, and therefore the best way to prepare for the future is to develop the ability to adapt and problem solve. As children grow up and move on, they will also need the ability to adapt to people, situations and surroundings. Similarly, they must hone the skill of observing what is going on in their environment, identify reasons and the work to find areas that could be changed or improved. In many respects, these twin abilities are more of soft skills but problem-solving can be developed with maths or science.