At HR Tech Europe London in March 2015, thought leader Peter Hinssen said that, with the advent of self-driving cars, it would be irresponsible to encourage your children to train as driving instructors.
It’s a pertinent point. In early 2014 the Economist reported that high-paying jobs that require emotional intelligence and mental depth, such as accountants, commercial pilots and estate agents would be absorbed by automation within 20 years.
This kind of opinion could cause a panic. Yet I’m with Armin Trost who argues while computers will take over many existing jobs, new positions and challenges will emerge. Work will not get exhausted. Even if we develop programmers to program the robots, who will program the programmers?
But there is uncertainty over precisely what positions and skills will be in demand in 10 years. With that in mind, how can we prepare our children to cope with what the workplace of 2030 will bring?
As Darwin said, it’s not the strongest of the species that survive, but those quickest to adapt. As the world changes rapidly, the ability to deconstruct strongly held opinions, seek continuous improvement and betterment, disrupt the status quo and generally recognise the fluidity and unstable nature of the world will be big advantages in integrating with the workforce of the future.
Praising children for effort rather than intelligence is a good start here. You can ask them about strategies that aren’t working and why they think they aren’t working. Allow them to fail. It’s the only way we learn and improve.
As an added benefit, those with growth mindsets tend to be happier than those with fixed mindsets and more well-rounded, which means they will integrate with teams better too. Which brings us on to…
Compromise and collaboration
Why do some teams perform so well? A great example is the Red Arrows. An ex-Director, Jas Hawker, told me that in the Red Arrows the pursuit of excellence is “relentless” and that team performance is the fundamental metric. Everyone’s performance is judged as part of the team. If the team fails, even the best individual performers fail.
High-performing teams consistently outperform poor-performing teams. As the workplace becomes more agile and companies increasingly realise the best results comes from working in close, tight-knit teams, skills like diplomacy, inclusiveness and collaboration will become fundamental. The great thing about teams is the ability to compromise, criticise safely and generally reach a result that has been honed and polished by serious critical discussion.
Awareness of the human condition
More and more research suggests that free will is a variable concept. You make different decisions if you’re in an angry mood compared to if you’re in a good mood. When you’re hiring new people, you make a decision within 10 seconds of seeing them and then convince yourself throughout the interview and after that your original decision was right. The problem is, what you think in the first 10 seconds is worthless.
Ultimately we operate at sub-optimal levels of efficiency because of a multitude of reasons. In the future workplace, efficiency will be highly valued as the knock-on effects of inefficiency and poor decision-making could be widespread, for example in programming robots. Workers that understand decision-making and why they make specific decisions and how to mitigate poor decision-making will be highly valued.
The first stage of this comes with teaching your children effective mindfulness. This teaches awareness and allows them to self-reflect, a crucial skill that people often find uncomfortable.
It’s a pretty sound bet that software developers will buck the trend of white collar jobs disappearing to robots. Algorithms will always need tweaking. Robots will need re-programming to deal with new obstacles and challenges. If you teach your children one skill, make it this one.
Of course, this is already happening The Raspberry Pi, designed and sold to encourage children to learn programming, has sold over five million units as of February 2015. The Government has also realised how critical this is. In the UK, children as young as five are now being taught to code at school.
The logic of programming effectively is a language in itself. Teaching children this logic early is a worthwhile and sensible investment.