What was your dream job as a child? The best part about asking a child what they want to be when they grow up is celebrating the extent of their imagination and discovering the world through their unfiltered interests and enthusiasms. Kids’ interests can change rapidly, and most parents take their kids’ responses to these questions with a pinch of salt.
Asking a child about their job aspirations usually comes from a place of wanting to understand your their dreams and figuring out how you might support them. But in a future where an estimated 85% of jobs in 2030 don’t currently exist, what does it mean to support your child’s career aspirations - when we don’t know what shape or form they might take, or understand the context in which they’re situated?
Preparing kids for an unpredictable future ain’t easy, but the good news is that a lot of it’s about taking a step back as a parent and enjoying the journey of getting to know your child. Here are 5 tips we suggest:
1. Reframe the Question
The age-old question of asking a child what they want to be when they grow up has its fair share of drawbacks. As organisational psychologist Adam Grant explains, the question can lead to anxiety; the association of self-worth with professional accomplishments; and create the unrealistic expectation that every person has a calling to discover which could also form their career.If the goal is to learn more about your child’s aspirations with the aim of better supporting them, here are a number of different conversation openers to try. Grant suggests asking kids kind of person they want to become, and about the different things they might want to do. Alternatively, Google Education Evangelist Jaime Casap, advocates shifting the conversation away from what kids want to be when they grow up, to [discussing the problems they want to solve](https://www.forbes.com/sites/colinseale/2019/11/18/a-hoodlums-guide-to-thriving-in-america-with-googles-jaime-casap/#:~:text="Don't ask kids what,Casap%2C Google's Chief Education Evangelist.).
Rather than preemptively building towards a sense of career identity in a volatile and ambiguous future, our questions can spark constructive conversations about what kids want and need to learn in the future.
2. Don’t try to predict the future
Perhaps you grew up in an era where parents strongly encouraged their kids to be accountants or engineers by virtue of those roles being irreplaceable. Industry experts anticipate that “robots will replace 40% of jobs in the next 15 years”, and it’s safe to say the era of “safe” jobs is over.
Instead of making predictions about the future, why not channel your energy towards discovering and building on your kids’ strengths and interests? Rather than follow “tried and tested” career paths that may not exist in the future, a glimpse at the future of work suggests the importance of carving your own path and discovering your personal value proposition.
3. Provide real world exposure
The value of providing kids real world exposure is deeply underrated. There is only so much schools can do to help kids learn about the world around them - especially when the world is changing at an exponential rate. The best way for kids to be aware of their rapidly-evolving macro and their micro environment is to plug them into it, with care.
Bringing your kids into discussions about difficult topics, global events, or what’s going on in their parents workplace - with care - might initially feel difficult. Thankfully there’s a wealth of resources on the internet to guide you through the process. It could also be as simple (and fun!) as connecting your child with a penpal on the other side of the world, volunteering with your child, or listening to podcasts together.
4. Learn how to learn
No one knows what specific skills will be needed in the future of work - that’s where learning how to learn comes in. And with the ability to learn, the world’s your oyster.
The ability to learn is closely linked with 21st century skills, the set of skills said to be key to preparing kids to thrive in the new global economy. Amongst others, this includes self-awareness, creativity, and resilience - qualities that can be nurtured outside the classroom as much - if not more - than in the classroom. Encourage your kid to participate broadly in the world beyond school - whether that’s pursuing an interest in skateboarding, comic art, or an idea for a business selling slime. That’s where they’ll hone and apply soft skills relevant to the world they live in, and develop experiences beyond the cookie-cutter that’ll make ‘em stand out.
5. Cheer your child on
When it feels like the world is changing faster than ever before - this truth still holds. Whatever your child’s dream job turns out to be, the best way to help ‘em get there is to cheer them on. That could look like giving them the space to figure out what they want to do, providing them opportunities to try out new experiences, and perhaps resisting societal pressures to build a career identity prematurely. No one knows what the future holds, but what we do know is that your child’s journey in the future of work will be a lot smoother with your unconditional support.
Whatever the future looks like and whatever your child’s dream job turns out to be, we’re rooting for ‘em to discover their sense of purpose and build the skills they need to solve the big problems of their time. Read more about the skills that we think are key in the future of work here on our blog.
The Doyobi Team
Doyobi is building a community of parents and educators who are on a mission to help kids learn the skills to make their way in the world - not just in school. Disclaimer: Kids have so much fun in the Doyobi metaverse, they might forget they’re actually learning and building their portfolio through play.
Our ultimate goal is to equip every child with the learning skills to thrive in a world where change happens exponentially. Experience Doyobi for yourself - our subscription-based learning experiences open for new cohorts at the start of every month.