What should our children learn?

  • 12. August 2019

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This is a question which most us of us have been asked when we were children. Each of us answered with the job we esteemed the most –the job of one of our parents, that of a movie character or whatever else was going through our little minds at that time. Now my children are at the age when they are receiving such questions. The answers are funny, ranging from software developer to ski instructor and from professional gamer to vlogger or famous singer.

And now it’s our turn to help them choose a job which would fit their personality and skills AND allow them to make a good living. So, which are the best jobs for the future?

In the past decades we have seen some jobs disappear and other being created. What is hot and high potential today is not guaranteed to be the same in 10-20 years or even less. As I’ve recently read in an article on the Internet (and, to my shame I cannot remember its title and address to quote it here), the job of lift operator seemed to have a huge potential in the period between the world wars. People were thinking that, with more and more skyscrapers being built, there will be a large need of operators to man the elevators. There was a job of radio operator, who would tune the radio in a bar or restaurant because it required special training. There was also the job of computer operator; today we are all doing those jobs. (for free, hmm… 😊)

Software developers are so sought after these days and the Internet of Things and all the smart devices around us will need programming, so it seems to be a job for the future. Yet, software programming means translating from human language into a language which the computer would understand. Yes, I know it sounds trivial and the jobs is by far not trivial but, if you think about it, this is what software engineers do.

Globalisation has us interacting with people all around the globe. So, we should learn foreign languages in order to be able to properly communicate with those people, right? Google translate is already able to translate simple writings or conversations on the fly now and I am sure it will evolve into a much more capable tool.

Construction workers are also in high demand everywhere these days and, at least in Romania, they are able to earn salaries comparable to people with higher education. Yet, I have read that, in the Netherlands, there are houses which exterior walls are being build with 3D printers. Robots are able to lay bricks much faster and more precisely that humans.

Ok, so what is hot today, in terms or jobs, might not be so hot tomorrow. Then what will be a hot job in the future?

Some say asteroid miner; others say astronaut or recycling specialist or microbiologist or interface designer. I don’t know – if I knew I would probably be reach, because people who can read the future usually get rich.

What I am sure of is that things are changing rapidly and will keep changing as fast or even faster. This means our children – and us, too – we’ll have to adapt and possibly learn new jobs. So, we have to learn how to learn. By that I mean to get a solid general education, to do our best to understand what we are taught in school and to be willing to learn anything at any age.

I am not saying we should not encourage our kids to learn foreign languages or computer programming or how to drive a car. All of them are and will surely be, for a while, very helpful and a great exercise of the brain. However, we should also ensure they be curious, adaptable and fearless of the new.