Technological convergence means that as technology changes, different systems evolve to perform similar tasks, better. For example, services such as VOIP (or phone service through the internet), IPTV (television content via the internet), Smart TV’s and phones, tend to change or even eradicate older technologies. This is mirrored in today’s families when the parents’ education and experience isn’t relevant to the child’s future.
Richard Worzel, a futurist, said, “The decade ahead is going to offer opportunities that you cannot now anticipate. If you don’t have a clear sense of where you are going and why, and are not prepared for the challenges we face and the opportunities ahead, you will be devastated by what’s to come.” Although this statement was intended for an adult audience, the message is even more pertinent for our children. Today’s educational system isn’t designed to keep up with the ever-changing technical landscape and if we, as parents, can’t predict the future, how can we help our children thrive in tomorrow’s society?
The shifts of education and employment are changing faster than ever before in the history of mankind. Technology is undoubtedly replacing people. If it is affecting us today, imagine the impact to children when they graduate from an educational system that was developed by our forefathers. It has become necessary for every leader of a family, home, and community to take on a little more understanding and get involved in the present as it materializes every day; each day different than the one before.
Advances in technology are undeniably appealing. After all, in the next few years a computer chip can be placed in the brain to reverse paralysis, compact solar cells will create inexpensive and continuous heat, ingestible robots will repair internal injuries, and neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia, Autism and Tourette’s will become treatable; all in less than 15 years, thanks to technological advances. While these developments are beneficial, it’s unlikely most of us would be able to understand how any of them work. And if we don’t understand, we can’t teach our children to make significant contributions to society.
A January 2017 report from the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that roughly half of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055, “give or take” 20 years. Knowing that, it has never been more dangerous to be stuck in the old way of doing things. We must continue to grow and learn or we, ourselves, will become obsolete. In order to help our children, we must become autodidactic; educating ourselves, on a daily basis, about the trends in technology, business and society.
Become proactive. Now is the time to learn and teach new skills such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to ensure a successful future. But that’s not all you can do. To be human is to be multi-layered. According to the World Economic Forum, the new fluencies we need include emotional intelligence, intercultural sensitivity, creativity, problem formulation (rather than problem solving), economic citizenship, empathy, adaptability and resilience. These aren’t skills that can be taught in a traditional way, but they’re core requirements for effective life management.
The safest professions seem to favor individualism. For now, humans are still best at genuine creativity, such as being an artist, a writer, an inventor, a designer, a craftsman, or an entrepreneur. Also, those who are good with relationships like: therapists, nurses, recreational and occupational therapists, clergy, healers, advice counselors and social workers; will fare well. Another resilient category is those who are mechanically inclined: plumbers, electricians, mechanics, installers, handymen, etc.
The 2020’s are going to be a decade of redeployment rather than unemployment, but you and your child must be prepared. It has never been more important to stay plugged into advances in technology. By remaining ahead of the learning curve, you can ensure a smooth transition during a time in history when “things” are evolving faster than the humans who use them. Have an open, hungry mind and continue to learn alongside your child; their future depends on it.