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    Feb 19, 2020

    Top 10 Skills That Children Will Need To Thrive At The Workplace Of The Future

    As educators and parents, we are striving to prepare our children for the ‘real world’. A world that exists beyond the comfort of our homes and the walls of the classrooms. While we are ensuring children learn how to read, write, memorize, count and calculate we are overlooking a large blind spot. In the not so distant future, almost 50% of the jobs of the world will vanish and many of the remaining jobs will evolve. The residual jobs shall require a very different range of skills. Therefore we need to urgently ensure our children develop these (less tangible but vital) skills.

    Bridging the Gap between Academics and Job-readiness for the Workplaces of the Future

    India is experiencing the highest unemployment rates in 45 years. India’s private sector is struggling to find entry-level talent. Recruiters and HR managers agree the main reason for the struggle we are witnessing today is the wide gap between theoretical knowledge and skills required for job readiness. True that India’s literacy levels have indeed increased over the last few years however more and more graduates are graduating with professional degrees and certificates without the right skills needed for the workplace.

    Recently, in a shocking revelation, Tech Mahindra Chief Executive officer and Managing director C P Gurnani has said around 94 percent of IT Graduates are not eligible for jobs in big Indian IT companies. Annual Employability Survey 2019 by Aspiring Minds has revealed that 80% of Indian engineers are not fit for any job in the knowledge economy.

    The situation is expected to worsen in the near future because educational institutions are not evolving with the needs of the times. We cannot predict with any level of accuracy as to what will lie ahead for our children. Employers, experts, and futurists are unable to predict what the specific needs of jobs of the future shall be. Fortunately, we can predict, with a reasonable degree of accuracy, the attitude, mindset, and skill-set that will make our children successful in a rapidly changing world.

    These are the ten survival skills for the next 25 years. Let's take a look at each of these skills and find out how we can imbibe them in our children.

    #1: Emotional Intelligence

    There is a myth that to succeed in the corporate world one has to be ruthless and cold-hearted. These are stereotypes from the past that are no longer applicable in the collaborative work environment of the present. Older command control management models have given way to newer models such as ‘servant leadership’ and ‘leading by empowering’. Such leadership styles require well developed emotional intelligence in the leader.

    Emotional intelligence can be developed by role modeling and via progressive teaching methods that encourage active collaboration and the ability to work well with others.

    #2: Creative Thinking

    According to research by Morgan Stanley, out of the ten most successful companies in the United States between 1990-2000, only three have survived in the period between 2011-2020. The seven new companies are beacons of creativity and innovation. The future belongs to creative thinkers and to those who can think outside the box. The way we teach today is based on an outdated convergent thinking model where there is only one right solution to the problem. What is required instead is a divergent thinking model where learners are taught to come up with multiple ideas and solutions to a problem.

    This can only happen if learners are encouraged to experiment and to learn by the process of trial and error. Newer and more progressive teaching methods need to be adopted and applied to enable divergent thinking in our children.

    #3: Curiosity

    Children are naturally curious. They are wired to be imaginative. Educators and parents need to ensure this innate ability is nurtured. The present-day education system is designed to stifle and eventually kill creativity.

    Progressive teaching methods available are transforming education around the world by creating a new generation of creative thinkers.

    #4: Resilience

    A look back at the last twenty years tells us how much has changed in the world. From landlines to smartphones, dial-up internet connections to 4G, we have come a long way. There are significant challenges ahead - from global warming to job losses via automation. The world of the future is becoming more and more uncertain.

    The most vital skill our children will require is to be comfortable with uncertainty. Parents and educators can help learners acquire this skill by redesigning learning experiences that challenge them beyond their comfort zone. The learning experience can also be redesigned to help learners acquire skills to help them navigate an uncertain world and to solve complex problems.

    #5: Critical Thinking

    Our children live in a world where they receive a massive flow of information from multiple sources – the internet, social networks, social media, and friends. With this vast overload of information, it becomes an essential skill for young children to learn how to correctly evaluate what they see and hear. Children need to learn, much more now than ever before, how to separate the false ideas and superfluous thoughts so they can get to the core of the message.

    Critical thinking is more than just thinking rationally or clearly, it is about developing the discipline of analysis. Critical thinking is formulating one’s opinions and drawing one’s own conclusions, based on reliable facts, and not on external (often false) influences.

    #6: Self-Learning

    A traditional classroom is built around a model where the teacher does most of the talking and learners do most of the listening. This means the teacher is also doing most of the learning. It is an established fact that whoever does the majority of the work does the learning. We need to create a different environment where learners lead their learning and educators act as coaches. By doing so we will train the next generation to better adapt to the rapidly changing world. Our children will be able to effectively deal with disruptions and changes the future is likely to present.

    #7: Entrepreneurship

    Most present-day jobs require entrepreneurial skills. People at work are expected to take risks, come up with new ideas, solve complex problems and work well with others. However, this is not how we learn at school. Once our brains are wired in a non-entrepreneurial way it is difficult to change.

    Learning can be made entrepreneurial. Learners need to be taught in ways that resemble the real world. ‘Learning by doing’ helps develop and exercise entrepreneurial skills.

    #8: Empathy

    Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to the feelings of others. It is a must for navigating personal and professional relationships. Empathy creates a healthier and happier environment at home as well as at work. It is also a non-negotiable leadership trait.

    Empathy can be taught. Empathy in action is real empathy. Learning experiences must be designed to trigger concern for others as well as to make an impact on the larger community.

    #9: Digital Literacy

    Children have access to unlimited information at their fingertips. The internet can be a good friend and the worst enemy. Children need to be taught the art of sifting through and finding the right information.

    The ability to use technology to research information and to utilize technology to interact with the world can be learned from a young age.

    #10: Global citizenship

    The world of tomorrow shall be a truly global world. We can create a polarised world or a world where there is unity despite differences. Embracing differences irrespective of economic status, class, religion, color or nationality will pave the way for global collaboration, prosperity, and peace.

    Parents and educators need to agree on a set of values and principles that will enable children to be true citizens of the world. This is a collaborative process that requires proactive parents and open-minded educators.

    A better world

    The highest aspiration for any parent is to ensure the happiness and success of their child. These can be achieved if parents carefully define the values and skills they wish to see in their children. They need to select an education system that is in sync with their values and also meets the needs of the real world. It is only by investing in our children can we create a better world for them.

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