LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

(C) Julie Boyd 2012

 

As parents we are all concerned about what the future will bring and the type of world our children will be seeking to live and work in. It can be very confusing trying to help our sons and daughters make the best decisions for their own futures, and can sometimes be overwhelming for them leading to stress with their studies. Making decisions about possible career paths or professional and personal directions is usually difficult and finding a starting point is the most important support you can provide for your son. Listening to what he is interested in will provide common ground for supportive discussions, and helping him find access to information in order to make decisions will facilitate a relatively stress-free transition to the world of academia or work.

 

As an employer as well as an educator and psychologist, I suggest that as parents we do need to keep in mind is that the world our sons are heading into is very different to what it was even a decade ago. Informing yourself as to what has changed and what the jobs and professions of the future are predicted to be will be the greatest help you can provide in these difficult decision-making processes, and will provide your son with a secure base to discuss his options with you.

 

One of the most respected forecasting forums is the World Future Society, which, each year since 1985 have published what are seen as areas for serious consideration. Keeping in mind that the organisation is American-based, there are a couple of forecasts I would like to highlight:

 

EDUCATION

 

Future curricula will broaden to include interpersonal skills. The age of social networking has brought on a critical need for social skills such as self-discipline, responsibility, and media literacy, in addition to the “three R’s.”

 

Social networking could facilitate a more collaborative form of learning. The Net generation uses technologies both for socializing and for working and learning, so their approach to tasks is less about competing and more about working as teams

 

HEALTH AND MEDICINE

 

Psychiatrists will treat character deficiency and acute lack of self-directedness instead of depression.

Where clinical treatment can make a difference, enhancing patients’ character development and self-directedness will  achieve better overall life satisfaction

WORK AND CAREERS

Talent shortages will undermine economic recovery. As the global economy becomes more dependent on technology, workers will need more proficiency in science, technology, engineering, or mathematically based (STEM) jobs.

Professions will become hyperspecialized.

Future leaders will be asked to manage super-performing, technologically enhanced employees.

Super-automation may soon bring super-unemployment. This means that skills of enterprise, entrepreneurship, and being able to both ‘sell yourself’, and potentially create your own work will become even more important.

A comprehensive list which may provide the basis for some interesting dinner-table discussions can be found at http://www.wfs.org/Forecasts_From_The_Futurist_Magazine

 

If your son is contemplating job prospects for the future some of these may be worth including in your discussions the following projections:

Hottest jobs for 2016:

– Network systems and data communications analysts (53.4% more U.S. employees than in 2006)
– Personal and home care aides (up 50.6%)
– Home health aides (up 48.7%)
– Computer software engineer (up 44.6%)
– Veterinary technologist/technician (up 41.0%).

Coldest jobs for 2016:

– Photographic processing machine operator (49.8% fewer U.S. employees than in 2006)
– File clerk (down 41.3%)
– Sewing machine operator (down 27.2%)
– Electrical and electronic equipment assembler (down 26.8%)
– Computer operator (down 24.7%).

An important aspect in all of this is that social skills are considered basic to academic and professional progress for your son. Indeed, in my experience, professional development for senior executives in many Fortune 500 companies in America over the past decade has focussed mainly on this area.

 

A further observation is that one of the key elements of young people developing genuine resiliency is for them to have a sense of hope and optimism for their futures. As parents this is one of the keys to assisting them into their own futures.