Guiding our kids into their fast-changing futures.

Getting a Job is Becoming a Job

Thinking about your children and college and careers? (Breathe deeply.) While the job market for college grads is still pretty bad, it may not be as bad as you think according to The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann in this “Definitive Guide.” (Though this commentor makes a compelling case that it might be actually be really, really bad.)

There’s little dispute, however, that technology is shrinking the job market for clerical workers.

Regardless of how we parents are dealing with all that, USA Today reports that our kids seem to be figuring it out. Fully 43% of 5th through 12th graders now say they want to be entrepreneurs according to a Gallup poll released in January. Expect to see more teens on Shark Tank in the near future.

What are your thoughts on the work of getting work?

Can Your Children “Design Their Own Professions?”

We’ve hit on this theme before and will surely do so again, but it’s looking like more and more of our kids won’t be answering want ads for job openings down the road. They’ll be creating their own jobs, as author Tony Wagner and columnist Thomas Friedman discuss in this New York Times piece. It echoes an earlier column by Princeton’s Anne-Marie Slaughter who writes “many old titles and jobs no longer make sense, and many new functions are just waiting to be claimed.”

Related is this context-twisting piece by author Seth Godin titled “Toward Zero Unemployment.” It’ll definitely make you think.

From a parent’s perspective, here’s what we think.

The important issue here for us is not so much that change is occurring so quickly when it comes to the prospects of work for our kids. As technology evolves, there’s no doubt that more and more traditional jobs are going to be replaced and new, different ones created. Whether you believe that’s “progress” or not, it’s hard to slow it down.

Given that reality, the important question becomes “How are we preparing our kids for a much different world of work?” If the new normal is going to require more creative, entrepreneurial thinkers and learners who require different skills and literacies, then what are schools doing now to prepare for that world?

To be blunt, not much. The future of work as more and more people are defining it is not on the test. Measuring creativity and entrepreneurial thinking doesn’t fit in the industrial age agenda, and it’s hard to rank that type of learning against our “global competitors.” We agree with Seth Godin who says that success won’t be built solely on MBAs or success on the traditional path. Success will come for those who instead choose to stand out instead of fit in, those who invent instead of duplicate. (If you haven’t read it, it’s worth the time.)

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Most schools, even “good” schools, are about getting our kids to “fit in” and “duplicate” what’s already been done. I look at the work my own kids bring home and see little if anything that allows them to stand out and invent. You? The bottom line is, once again, schools have little context for the world as it might become, especially when policy makers at state and national levels continue to reinforce a worldview of learning and work that is quickly being passed by.

We parents have to change this. How? First by educating ourselves as to the realities and complexities of the world. (That’s the work of this newsletter, btw. Some book suggestions here.) And second, by encouraging if not demanding our schools to engage in conversations around change that more relevantly reflect the new normal that our children will be dealing with. Now.

Recently, I visited a high school that featured the above sign prominently in one of the classrooms. I couldn’t help but be struck by the tired traditional thinking that went into making it. It’s ironic, to me at least, that if my kids are to face this new world as it looks to be coming at them, none of those rules (save staying awake) will serve them well. New realities require new rules, and we all have a role to play in that revision.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

~Will

Where Will More of Our Kids End Up Working? In “The Cloud”


Building on what is a growing list of research and reports on the future workplace, Accenture now predicts a serious uptick in the number of companies who will be “relying on global networks of outside contractors, outsourcing partners, vendors, strategic partners and other ‘nontraditional workers’.”Wondering how the current thinking around schools is preparing our children for that reality.

Or, if you really want to go crazy, preparing them for “the end of work as we know it.”

Tell us why you think that’s over the top…or not.

Work in the Future Won’t Look Like Work Today

This quote about the future of work from a Ray Williams piece in the Financial Times pretty much sums it up: “No one is going to pay you just to show up.” I’m constantly wondering how school is preparing my kids for a “more flexible, more freelance, more collaborative and far less secure work world…run by a generation with new values – and with women increasingly at the controls.”

That’s a far cry from the reality much of classroom instruction is built on.

And if you want to get a nice summary of the future shifts dealing with work that we all need to get our brains around, try this interview with Lynda Gratton of The London Business School, who says the “hollowing out of work” as technology increasingly replaces jobs is something we all better start paying attention to.

Let us know what you wonder about how we’re preparing our kids for a much different future of work.