The Next Generation’s Career Decisions

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 20 January 2016
Peter Cosgrove
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One of the key challenges for parents is to start allowing their children to make their own decisions. Never is there more fraught a decision than when it comes to their career choices. However, it may be time for you to let your child make their own decisions regarding choice of college and further education. Your child’s working life will be fundamentally different to your own experience.
The traditional view is to have your children choose a particular route because you think it will bring good career prospects. I recall being told that there would always be jobs for accountants and engineers so these would both be good options to choose for college courses. The generation before us often took a job and stayed in it for forty years. Once again, this is nothing like the working life the future generation of workers can expect.
The pace of change is like nothing we have seen before. If you look at how technology is disrupting all industries - ten years ago, the hotel market could not have envisaged Airbnb which has become possible because of mobile technology. Book shops are being disintermediated by online providers like Amazon and we do not call a taxi any more, we uber or Hailo. So, technology is no longer just about fixing computers and setting up networks, it is central to everything we do.
There are currently 7 billion people in the world and 7 billion networked devices. Next year, this will double to 15 billion connected devices and estimates are that we will have over 150 billion by 2022. It won’t be long before your fridge is telling you that you are out of milk and a drone has been dispatched to pick it up!
These changes will affect the jobs being done currently. Many jobs will be obsolete within a generation, while other roles that are unimaginable today, will be common place within a decade. Data supplied by Michael Osborne and Carl Frey from Oxford University has highlighted that over 40% of jobs will be performed by robots/machines in the not too distant future and these are jobs like accountants, proof readers, tax assistants, so not just blue collar jobs.
So what advice should we be giving to the next generation?

1. Do not focus on a job because of the future job prospects

Given that we do not know what the future jobs will be, you are much better to focus on something that interests you. The key challenge with choosing to study accountancy simply because there will be jobs in that area is that it does not ask the most important question - is that what you enjoy doing? So when we see parents forcing their children into coding workshops like Coderjojo, maybe take a step back and ask if they like what they are doing as people rarely excel in something they are being forced to do. It is great to give kids exposure to lots of different areas, but do check whether they are doing it willingly.
2. Follow your passion

This is harder to do than you think, so the earlier you start thinking about this, the better.
School children need to think about what they are passionate about – look at what they do and think about in their spare time. Do they enjoy tinkering with bikes, solving cryptic crosswords, playing with kids?  They need to pay attention to what they like to do as it may not just come to them. The reality of following your passion is that doing a job you love, is the biggest unfair advantage you have over someone who is doing the same thing just because they are getting paid. Do not listen to someone who says there is no money in it, the money will come if you love something and become an expert in it.
3. Lifelong Learning

The next generation will move jobs a lot more frequently than previous generations. With so much change, the key goal is to keep learning and despite the fact that so many things are changing, some skillsets will remain very important in the future. Being able to write concisely and cogently, being able to communicate/present well and being able to network with others will all be key skills of the future. With the huge amount of time being spent on phones and tablets, a lot of these interpersonal skills are being lost and those who can be a great communicator, influencer and connector will excel whatever the future holds.

This article is correct at 20/01/2016

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Peter Cosgrove

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