Thursday, October 28, 2010

Have you future-proofed your child?

I have had a superb day with close friends who came over for a birthday tea - about 12 ladies, many of whom had their children with them and the house just absorbed them - I am again, need I say it, supremely thankful!

This came to my inbox a few days ago on an e-loop I'm on. I found it a fascninating read - the future will truly be unlike anything we on!

The times they are a changin’” never before has the title of this Bob Dylan classic been more relevant. Baby Boomers, those born between 1945 and 1964 have witnessed some truly amazing shifts in the world. They watched the dawning of the internet age, they saw the amazing star trek gadget called the personal communication device (cell phone) materialise, and computers that used to take up an entire room can now fit into the palm of their hands.
Generation X’ers (those born between 1964 and 1980) can hop on a plane as easily as a bus, play high definition games on their laptop computers against opponents on the other side of the world. They can view news as it happens instantly via satellite transmissions, and those same satellites can get us from A to B via a GPS - a tool previously reserved for the military.They are now employed in jobs that did not even exist in 1964.
According to Nikki Bush, co-author with Dr Graeme Codrington of best-selling parenting book, Future-proof Your Child, it is anticipated that our children will have had 10 – 14 jobs by the age of 38!  “It is a future we can’t even imagine and we are going to have to bring up our children to be incredibly resilient in the face of change, and who love learning, they will quite literally be learning on the job.”
Children are going to have to ramp up their creativity as innovation will be the life-blood of companies in the future.  With much more automation of jobs coming down the line, our children must be able to do that which computers can’t – utilize creativity and imagination.
Bush explains that entire new industries will become mainstream when our children reach the world of work sometime between 2020 and 2030 including robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, space travel and nano-technology, to name just a few.
Commenting on the impact of the global economic recession, Bush says that if there is one thing that has been highlighted, it is that a job no longer equals security.  Companies can no longer promise you a job or an income based on your commitment and loyalty, because they can’t guarantee employment. Everything today boils down to economics.
We need a generation of children with a huge entrepreneurial mindset because many of them will be self-employed.  Understand that EMS (Economic and Management Sciences) is now a very important subject in the curriculum.  Support it as essential and not just a “soft subject”.  The global trend is to downsize head offices and to outsource or micro-source, in other words, to buy in the skills or talent required for particular projects for a limited period of time, and not necessarily to employ the person who has them.  Automation is also another trend that will replace people in the workplace.
Bush says, ‘being an entrepreneur demands a very different skill set to being employed precisely because there are no guarantees and because you are the master of your own destiny.  The message for anyone who is still employed is that everyone today is at risk, we all need to be able to reinvent or re-engineer ourselves at will, in order to remain current and employable (as an employee or an external consultant or service provider).  You need to be constantly building your brand wherever you find yourself. ‘

By encouraging your children to build their own unique brands, whether they are employed or self-employed, you will be ensuring that your children learn the lesson that they will be their own teachers.

Because we don’t know for sure exactly what jobs are coming down the line we need to future-proof our children so that they are ready for whatever life throws at them. Bush believes that children will need more than just grades to thrive in the future; they will need X-factors for success:

  • Creativity,
  • resilience,
  • a love of learning,
  • relating to others, and
  • self-knowledge.
So what does this mean in financial terms? Well there is one more shocking prediction to digest, it is estimated that the chances of a child born in 2000 living to the age of 130 are 50%. This means that if we stick with old paradigms they will retire at 65 and have another 55 years to fund in retirement. So in effect we are trying to educate our children to prepare for their futures 65 years from now. This is inconceivable given the speed at which the world is changing. For the first time in history we have no clue how to prepare for the future because the future has no guidelines.

Risk products like dread disease, medical aids and disability will become even more important as job security dwindles and life expectancy increases. The only solution is to keep your finger on the pulse of change, you are back in the school room with the best of the best and you need to keep up. Those of us who just ‘let life happen’ will be in a fight for survival. 

Now more than ever we need to learn how the world of money works and instill healthy savings habits in our children. Who knows, by the time they reach retirement age (perhaps at age 110) the worlds governments may have got a whole lot smarter and will have developed an economic system that takes care of the aging population in comfort. Who knows? As it stands, we don’t, all we can do is embrace the challenge and enjoy the ride!

By Lindi Dlamini, Executive, Retail Operations for Liberty Life

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