What Can You Do to Prepare Your Kids for Jobs That Don’t Even Exist Yet?

Why you should stop asking your child what they want to be when they grow up. What parents can do to arm this generation with the skills for jobs that don’t even exist yet.

Today’s children are likely to have as many as 10 career changes in a lifetime that may well span in excess of 100 years due to improvements in health and technology. A quick online search tells us that dozens of jobs today didn’t exist prior to 2010 – and that’s only seven years ago. Jobs such as bloggers, iOS developers, UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) specialists and data scientists are going to evolve into roles and opportunities that we haven’t even dreamed of yet. It’s probable that over half of the latest generation will start their own venture at some stage, either alone or as part of a founding team creating a commercial or social solution to a problem they see.

The future of technology is vast and seems limitless. We are creating data and programs faster than ever before.

Our children will have the power and ability to connect with almost anyone anywhere, including celebrities and people they admire. Regular people have the ability to attract worldwide support and audiences to present their talent or ideas. It seems that the sky is no longer the limit.

Some parents might be concerned that automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) might limit our children’s opportunities for work, but there will always be a place for humans building relationships, communicating, creating possibilities and telling stories to engage others. And the Generation Z and Alpha that we have now? They are intelligent, creative and adventurous, willing to try new things and experiment with new ways to learn and communicate. Humans will always have a desire to relate, to solve problems and to thrive and Gen Z and Alpha know this already. They know that ‘no’ often means ‘let’s find another way to make it happen’ and have often researched a solution online and canvassed others in the family before they come and ask the question. We used to call that playing one parent figure off against another – today it’s resourceful!

Empower them now

So what can you do to arm your children with the agile and adaptive skills to work in the future?

Stop asking them what they want to be when they grow up. Have them focus on their skills and strengths and invite them to consider the people around them who have balancing strengths to build a great team. Instead of asking our children what they want to be when they grow up, we will serve them better by asking them, ‘What problem in the world would you like to solve?’ or ‘Which part of your community would you like to empower?’.

Challenge their thinking regularly. Ask ‘why?’ more often. Children (and adults) who are clear on their ‘why’ have a stronger drive to get things done. And encourage them to attempt to solve problems before giving them the answer. One of my favourite sayings is to “bring me at least two possible solutions along with your problems”.

Some Simple Ideas to Try with Your Kids

Is there a mini-business venture they can explore? Perhaps they can trade hugs with Grandma for organising her mobile phone contacts on one home screen for easy use, or they can bake and have mum or dad take the goods to work to sell for profit or charity, or they can mow a lawn, weed a garden or wash a car for a trusted neighbour to see if they’d like to make it into a part-time job.

  • Pay something forward to someone anonymously (this makes for a brilliant brainstorming session).
  • Ask someone they admire for a mini-mentoring session on what that mentor does in his/her day-to-day work. This person could be anyone in the world.
  • Design a fun family game on- or offline.
  • Have them teach you a new online program or app and get them to test you, too.
  • Plant a veggie pot or plot, to help them understand the need for planning, diligence and a future vision.
  • Design a poster of what the coming year might hold for them or the family to encourage forward vision.
  • Research and create a weekend holiday break, including the budget.
  • Get them to think about how items in the house were made, grown or transported to encourage a wider view of the contribution of people.
  • Have them plan a family budget for you for a week and see if you can stick to it.
  • Get them to design the meals for the week and create the shopping list (in or outside of a budget).
  • Ask them to create a pitch for something they want shark-tank style (get relatives and friends on the panel too).
  • Could they mentor someone else to finish a task or learn something new?

It’s an exciting time to be alive and to be the parents of children who will see more new technology than ever before.

There’s more support and encouragement available to develop new solutions and to try new ways to achieve success. Our children will have more tools and access to more knowledge than we ever did. This will give them more opportunities to create, to build and to sustain a satisfying life.

Whilst platforms and methods of communication are changing, many of the values that parents learned as children and live today will continue to be passed on. The power of communication to create opportunities and effect situations and the ability of people to build meaningful relationships will always be vital and valued. The great news is, as parents, we still have the power and influence to lay the foundation of the things that make living worthwhile – family values, the joy of relationships, trust and love.

Danielle Storey is a mother of four, grandmother, and CEO of Eastern Innovation Business Centre in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, a co-working space for start-ups and business owners to collaborate. She is the author of The Selfish Servant and mentor to hundreds of micro and small businesses.

Words by Danielle Storey / Image by: Nina Strehl

Guest Contributor