How to FU­TURE PROOF your kids

Act now to ready young­sters for jobs that don’t yet ex­ist, writes Mercedes Maguire

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - WEEKEND SHOPSPOT -

Kids will need a big­ger step-up than we did

F red Cruwys is five. He’s in­ter­ested in cars, build­ing things and an­i­mals. But when this preschooler en­ters the work­force in 2030, the skills he will need to get a good job will be vastly dif­fer­ent to those of to­day. He may well end up in a job that hasn’t even been thought of yet, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased this week. At the very least, he will need a good un­der­stand­ing of tech­nol­ogy, along with cre­ativ­ity and good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills.

“I would like to think he can be what­ever he wants to be,” says his mum, Tanya Cruwys, from Coffs Har­bour. “But, to be hon­est, kids to­day will need a big­ger step-up than we did or our par­ents did.”

Pre­par­ing our kids for the world has never been more crit­i­cal. Ed­u­ca­tors agree kids need a good base in aca­demics, emo­tional re­silience, tech­nol­ogy, fi­nan­cial savvy and even for­eign lan­guages in a way pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions did not. And they say we need to start early if we are to fu­ture­proof them.

Toormina Com­mu­nity Preschool di­rec­tor Ker­rie Stich­bury says the way un­der-fives are taught has changed markedly in the last 20 years.

“We give chil­dren more re­spon­si­bil­ity now and in­volve them in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process in a way that has never been done be­fore,” she says.

“Twenty years ago we would have set the learn­ing pro­gram and it would have been a theme-based cur­ricu­lum. But now, it’s in­ter­est­based, which means we take into ac­count what chil­dren are in­ter­ested in be­cause re­search shows chil­dren en­gage and learn bet­ter when they have an in­ter­est in the sub­ject.”

Just as tech­nol­ogy is a part of ev­ery­day life, so it is in the preschool world, she adds. The cen­tre has a pro­jec­tor in place of a white board, the chil­dren have ac­cess to iPads and com­put­ers and of­ten doc­u­ment their learn­ing with photos they take them­selves. “It’s im­por­tant we em­brace tech­nol­ogy ... but we use it as an ad­di­tional learn­ing tool and as part of the cur­ricu­lum; it doesn’t take over,” Stich­bury says. “Most of our preschool­ers are al­ready fa­mil­iar with tech­nol­ogy; we’re not re­ally in­tro­duc­ing them. In fact, they of­ten have a greater un­der­stand­ing of tech­nol­ogy than we do.” The preschool’s role, Stich­bury adds, is to work in part­ner­ship with par­ents to foster a love of learn­ing that will ben­e­fit kids be­yond the start of school. “There’s a lot more to school readi­ness than be­ing fa­mil­iar with the al­pha­bet and num­bers th­ese days,” she says. “There will al­ways be a place for tra­di­tional learn­ing, but we also see so­cial and emo­tional readi­ness as paramount when they start school.” The new re­port, The Fu­ture Of Work: Set­ting Kids Up For Suc­cess, was com­mis­sioned by the Na­tional Broad­band Net­work (NBN) and out­lines what the job land­scape will look like in 2030. It shows fu­ture jobs will be di­vided into three cat­e­gories: 1. Fu­ture jobs: Those that may not ex­ist yet but will fo­cus on dig­i­tal spe­cial­i­sa­tion and tech­nol­ogy skills, eg a ro­bot pol­isher. 2. Chang­ing jobs: Roles we are fa­mil­iar with to­day but which will be done in a dif­fer­ent way, eg a doc­tor who uses tech­nol­ogy for re­mote med­i­cal test­ing.

3. Fad­ing jobs: High man­ual jobs that will be re­placed by au­to­ma­tion over time, eg petrol pump as­sis­tant and bank teller.

“This con­cept of in­vest­ing in our kids’ fu­ture is im­por­tant be­cause the world won’t look like it does now when preschool­ers en­ter the work force in 2030,” says Peter Gur­ney, NBN gen­eral man­ager of state cor­po­rate af­fairs.

“The digi­ti­sa­tion of tra­di­tional jobs will see the big­gest changes, and we are al­ready see­ing this in e-health. We re­cently did a trial with the CSIRO where an oph­thal­mol­o­gist in Perth was able to carry out eye tests with mem­bers of a re­mote Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity us­ing a high­def­i­ni­tion cam­era on their end.” T here is no deny­ing the im­por­tant role tech­nol­ogy will play in the fu­ture. Within the next five years alone, at least 90 per cent of the work­force will need a ba­sic level of dig­i­tal lit­er­acy and 50 per cent will need higher tech skills such as pro­gram­ming and soft­ware de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to the Foun­da­tion for Young Aus­tralians.

But ed­u­ca­tors say teach­ing kids so­cial and emo­tional skills to see them through school and be­yond is just as im­por­tant.

St Cather­ine’s School in Waver­ley now has a ded­i­cated di­rec­tor to lead their Pos­i­tive Psy­chol­ogy pro­gram for chil­dren from kinder­garten to Year 12. The school’s head­mistress, Julie Townsend, says the fo­cus has moved away from teach­ing kids self-es­teem to arm­ing them with emo­tional re­silience.

“In the past 20 years, par­ents and schools have been teach­ing chil­dren about self-es­teem, which is dam­ag­ing,” she says. “Em­bed­ded in this is that no one wins and ev­ery­one is re­warded sim­ply for par­tic­i­pat­ing, which only gives false self es­teem. It’s not a good life les­son and is not giv­ing kids any­thing con­crete to en­ter adult life with emo­tion­ally.”

Townsend says the grow­ing em­pha­sis on emo­tional re­silience and skills such as pub­lic speak­ing and per­for­mance will give chil­dren

the con­fi­dence they need to walk into a job with the right at­ti­tude. “We are in a rapidly chang­ing world, and so it’s im­por­tant to change the way we teach and the things we teach,” she says. “There will al­ways be a place for tra­di­tional aca­demics, but what use are they if a young per­son doesn’t have the con­fi­dence to walk into an of­fice and present them­self in the right way?” A sec­ond lan­guage is also in­creas­ingly im­por­tant. “To best equip our chil­dren for the fu­ture, hav­ing a sec­ond lan­guage is an ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial skill,” says Asia Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion di­rec­tor Kathe Kirby. “It’s more likely chil­dren will one day work as part of a global com­pany and it makes com­plete sense that the more our young peo­ple can un­der­stand other cul­tures, es­pe­cially Asian, the bet­ter off they will be.”

Kirby rec­om­mends In­done­sian and Man­darin as most es­sen­tial, and says a sur­vey of 4.3 mil­lion job ads showed the skills em­ploy­ers seek most are dig­i­tal lit­er­acy, bilin­gual skills and cre­ativ­ity.

Learn­ing how to mas­ter money is another skill that is be­ing in­creas­ingly taught in class­rooms.

“Fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy is now em­bed­ded in the Aus­tralian cur­ricu­lum, and last year more than 50 per cent of Aus­tralian schools en­gaged with the Aus­tralian Se­cu­rity and In­vest­ments Com­mis­sion’s Mon­eySmart Teach­ing pro­gram,” says Miles Lar­bey, se­nior ex­ec­u­tive leader of fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy at ASIC.

“As adults, they will be faced with de­ci­sions about com­plex fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and ser­vices, in­clud­ing su­per­an­nu­a­tion, tax, home loans and in­sur­ance.

“Ac­tiv­i­ties such as with­draw­ing money from the ATM, shop­ping at the su­per­mar­ket, pay­ing bills, plan­ning a hol­i­day and do­ing a sim­ple bud­get all present prac­ti­cal learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to dis­cuss money.”

Coffs Har­bour mum Tanya Cruwys, hopes her son Fred, 5, can fol­low his dreams as he grows up.

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