What skills should we be teaching our children today to prepare them for the future?
The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that AI will likely automate roughly 600 million jobs in the US by 2030. That’s roughly 22% of all jobs today — gone in less than a decade.
Fortunately, they’re also predicting 700 million new jobs will be created by 2030 — many of which will be entirely new types of jobs that don’t currently exist today.
So, if we don’t know what jobs will exist in the future, then how do we know what skills we should be teaching our children today to prepare them for the future?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to make predictions about skills for jobs that don’t yet exist. However, we can make some rough guesses based on current technology trends.
As a result, here are the top five skills that you should be teaching your children today to prepare them for the future world of AI automation.
If the majority of all existing jobs will be automated by the time your children retire, this leaves two main categories of work available for humans as long-term career options: highly technical roles and uniquely human roles.
There will likely be many new technical jobs available in this highly automated future. In these technical roles, you will be doing one of five things: creating smart machines, training them, managing them, maintaining them, or using them to do your work.
The skills that will help your children succeed in these roles are your typical STEM skills (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). So, you should be teaching your children how to use computers, write code, build robots, analyze data, etc.
The second class of jobs that will likely remain are those that require skills that are unique to humans. They are jobs that require a lot of human-to-human interaction — the things that machines don’t do so well. For example, teaching, nursing, human relations, etc.
To prepare for these types of jobs, your children need to learn uniquely human skills like creativity, empathy, and compassion. They need to learn how to be social, build trust, and communicate effectively.
It is important that your children learn to be creative through art, music, and literature. They also need to learn how to cultivate interpersonal relationships through social activities, sports, and recreation.
There was more new data created in the past two years than roughly all of human history combined. Unfortunately, a good portion of this information is unreliable, biased, or patently false. In order to navigate this world of uncertainty, complexity, and data, your children will need to learn critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking is the ability to observe data about the world, analyze it, synthesize it, and use it to make effective decisions. The better the critical-thinking skills your children have, the more effectively they will be able to make rational decisions about the world.
Your children should learn about philosophy, logic, and effective argumentation. They need to understand the scientific method, psychology, and epistemology. They need to adopt a default mode of skepticism, understand how their biases affect their objectivity, and learn a latticework of useful mental models.
There are roughly three shapes to the breadth and depth of a child’s skills. Some students’ skills are “I” shaped. They have very deep knowledge in one area, but little knowledge in other subjects. For these students, “if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail”.
Other students’ skills are “—” shaped. They have very shallow knowledge across many subjects but have no real depth in any one specialty. These students are “a jack of all trades, master of none”. Unfortunately, these students lack high economic value due to a lack of specialization.
So, you want your child’s skills to be “T” shaped. They should have a wide breadth of general multi-disciplinary knowledge. However, once they discover what they excel at, they should go deep into that specialty to master it. T-shaped learning is both more valuable and adaptable than the other two shapes.
Our brains evolved to survive in a world that was very different from the high-tech world we live in today. In addition, the rate that our society is changing is much faster than the rate at which our brains can evolve to adapt to these changes.
Unfortunately, this current mismatch between our biology and our technology is the source of much of the mental, physical, and emotional stress we experience today. This leads to much of the human suffering that exists in our world today. This is likely only going to get worse over the next few decades.
Mindfulness practices, like meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), teach us how to be emotionally resilient in a high-tech world. It helps us to manage our cravings and aversions. It helps us build empathy and compassion. It reduces technology-induced stress. It makes us adaptable and resilient. In essence, it makes us human.
While we can’t predict the future, we can at least prepare our children based on what we currently know today. The future is coming quicker than you realize – don’t let your children get left behind!
To learn more, please watch my free online course: Preparing Your Career for AI