The 21st century is dynamic. New developments are being made in almost every field. This rise of technology may seem daunting, but it is not unprecedented. Generations before us had to deal with advances as well, though, admittedly, not in the same way we see today. So far, thousands of jobs have been wiped out by machines. In the early 20th century, young boys were employed as “Pinboys” and paid to re-stack bowling pins after someone had bowled. The invention of the automatic pinsetter made this job redundant. Alarm clocks eliminated the need for a “Knocker-Upper”, who would knock on people’s doors to wake them up for work. Newspapers, TV, and radio invalidated “Town Criers”, men with booming voices who’d walk around town yelling the day’s news. Esoteric examples, yes, but perhaps ones that will ring true again decades from now.
A study by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) found that almost 60% of Australian youngsters are training for careers that are set to become at least two-thirds automated in the next 15 years. Technological advancements are wonderful, but they can have a devastating effect on traditional careers, so it’s vitally important to consider your child’s future carefully.
It’s thought that by the year 2030, these are examples of jobs that may no longer exist: Travel agents – sites like Trivago make booking a vacation much easier than visiting a travel agency; Pilots – modern commercial planes respond to flight plans plugged in by the pilot, meaning there is a chance you’ve already been on a fully automated flight and these systems are only improving; Librarians – in the great paperback versus e-book debate, digital seems to be winning, and as more and more people download books on their tablets and e-readers, libraries are disappearing.
However, all hope is not lost.
It may seem like there is nothing a computer cannot do, but there are still, and always will be, skills that are inherently linked to the human condition. Such as:
“Technological advancements are wonderful, but they can be devastating for traditional careers”
- Abstract Problem Creation
Computers cannot solve problems that do not already exist. As the world develops, new issues come to light and humans discover and create important problems that had not existed before.
This is perhaps the most striking difference between a human and a machine. Humans have morals, ethics and feelings. Everything is, quite literally, binary to a computer. To be human is to acknowledge, and be able to deal with, the grey areas in life.
Computers are not able to create — at least not yet in the same way as humans. They cannot do things without being instructed to do so in some way (thankfully!).
In our evolving world, jobs centred on these skills are likely to be around for a very long time.
Business-related, artistic and deeply scientific fields are great options for kids who long for creative outlets. Physicians assess intangible variables in a way computers cannot to diagnose illnesses and find cures for them. They decide the best course of action in a situation unseen before. These are also fields in which relationship and interpersonal skills are pivotal to success. Investment bankers need to be able to see clients as human beings and as organisations of people, and not just deals that need pushing forward. Trades are always good, especially for those who love doing the unpredictable, and they’re also always necessary. Firefighters, policeman, plumbers and the like are almost certain to stay in the future.
If your child is ambitious and you encourage them to take risks, entrepreneurship might be the path for them. Your child may be able to recognise where a service is needed and find a way to provide it. Every industry benefits from enterprising minds.
Don’t cage yourself — or your child — in, though. Different people predict different things all the time. It’s important to acknowledge the changing nature of our society, but also to appreciate the moment. There are no metrics that are inherently “better” than others in assessing the suitability of careers. But there are ones that are more important to some people than others. We must consider that, especially for our children.
We believe the trick here is to be identifying your child’s strengths early and then nurturing them by observing and listening. Sign them up for art classes or sports that they’re interested in. If they can’t stop watching the Discovery Channel, buy them a science kit for their birthday. Most of all encourage your child to do whatever it is they want to do. And then do everything in your power to help them achieve their dreams.