“Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It’s Off to Work We Go!???”

I was in a Red Robin about a year ago, and a young waitress was showing me how to work the new mini-computer at each table for ordering and entertainment. I asked her if she was concerned that this could eventually lead to her being replaced by technology? She smiled and assured me that the machine could never take the place of the waitress, and the personal role she played with customers.

I ended the conversation there, but my experience in speaking in front of parent groups is that how their children will fit into the future workforce is of great anxiety to them.

For those of you that intend to provide your child with a trust fund to ensure he/she does not have to worry about future work, I would advise stopping reading here ( although I will point out to such parents that I am available for adoption-I clean up after myself, I do not whine, and I go to bed before dark!)

For the rest of us who will be encouraging our children to seek gainful employment, the future of work should be a primary concern going forward for the workplace is changing rapidly.  

What is your child likely to find?

First, as parents, you must make sure that your children know from an early age that the Bank of Mom and Dad will likely be unavailable to them.  As a generation, you will live longer than any previous one, and the money you save will be needed to pay for your retirement home costs, not to finance your children’s lives.  In fact, being in a position to avoid becoming a burden to your children down the road should be your goal. Moreover, you should be aiming to ensure that their “inheritance” going forward is the best education you can provide them to ensure their own financial independence at adulthood.

Competition for available employment is becoming fiercer.  Your child is no longer competing against the child down the road, but with students from multiple developing countries that are often willing to work harder and to do more than our American children.

The world of work cares much less about employees’ feelings and needs, and a whole lot more about work ethic and accountability.  Too many of our children are leaving school and college not having been asked to reach a level of performance that is required for success.

The Rise of the Robots or AI- artificial technology-has already begun to make its impact, and the suggestion is that it will not only be the restaurant waitress’ job that will disappear, but many professional roles in areas such as accounting, the law, and more. In any role where a machine can perform the function, it will replace the human employee.

What should our schools be teaching?

schoolThe 3Rs must remain the core of teaching, but the expectations of our students’ performance need to be greater.  In many parts of the country, the percentage of students that fail to graduate is often 25-30%- as a society we pay for this failure of the system because many of these individuals end up in the court or welfare systems, and we simply cannot afford the human waste of such a large number of people thrown on the trash heap at 18 years of age.

However, the 3rs are no longer enough. We need to teach our children flexibility as mentioned above. We need to help them understand that change is constant and to become its friend.  Our children must become lifelong learners so that as future skills become obsolete, they understand how to replace them. They must learn those 4thR skills, especially around empathy and leadership. Is your child’s school teaching this?

Interestingly, they must learn skills around leisure time. This is a new idea for previous generations have been obsessed with work as the means to prosperity. This generation is the 24/7 generation, always on the go.  However, future structural changes in the workplace are likely to eventually mean more “free” time for employees as the nature of the time spent in work changes. Their creation of a second life of leisure will become both an important personal skill, and a potentially lucrative future career.

Parents should look around them. I cannot tell you what the future holds exactly for our children; however, it is clear that the changes taking place in the structure of the global economy will result in a very different world of work. Preparing your child for both the great challenges and the tremendous possibilities of future work is vital, and I will discuss this more in the next blog.

At Confident Parenting, we can help you to assess the present state of your child’s education and whether or not he/she is on track for success.  Contact us at Confident Parenting coach.com for more information on how we can help.