We are so proud to be included at No 6 in Anna Tyzack's brilliant piece on How to Futureproof your child in The Daily Telegraph. Read the full article here:-
How do you prepare your child for a career in rewilding strategies or memory storage? These crazy-sounding jobs could be among the careers today’s schoolchildren will embark upon. “We don’t know what the future holds, only that children are going to have a very different career structure from our own,” says Hugh Milward, a father of four and head of corporate affairs for Microsoft.
With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that we are so preoccupied with parenting. In a recent interview, the author and TED speakerSimon Sinek blamed “failed parenting strategies” for the narcissistic, “quitterish” tendencies of the millennial generation. “They were told they were special, they could have anything they want,” he says. “They got medals for coming last. Then they were thrust into the real world.”
There is no “right” path any more, according to James Nugent, university recruitment manager for GSK. “School leavers can take up apprenticeships at major graduate employers and skip university altogether,” he says. “You can have several different careers, even within the same company.”
Digital literacy will certainly help the iGeneration find work but so too will attributes such as adaptability, problem solving and leadership. “You can’t simply outsource these skills to school. There is so much you can do at home,” says mother-of-two Laura Hinton, who is head of people at PwC.
Children’s mental health must also be a top priority, says Emma Saddleton of the charity YoungMinds. We need to protect them from the dangers of a digitised childhood. “Children can plug themselves into devices which give them autonomy and rights,” she says. “But as a parent you have a right – and a responsibility – to safeguard them.” Don’t get too fixated on getting it right, though. “The most important thing you can do is give your children skills to cope when things go wrong.”
1. Teach them hard work pays
Don’t jump in to help with their homework, and reward them only when they have truly worked hard. It’s essential for young people to experience the feelings of satisfaction and achievement that accompany hard graft. Society has become so set on achieving a healthy work-life balance that the younger generation has become work-shy, according to Simon Sinek. They leave work on the dot yet wonder why they’re not moving up the career ladder.
2. Make them wait
Don’t give your child what they want in order to avoid a tantrum, or rush to replace their phone when it is broken, warns clinical psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd. “Everything happens so quickly in our world of smart phones and online shopping but patience is still an essential skill,” she says.
3. Lead by example
Children mimic their parents. “If you want them to grow up well adjusted, you must first evaluate yourself,” says Sinek. This means modelling social skills to help your child get on in the world: eye contact, positive body language, good manners and consistency in your behaviour. “If you’ve banned your children from having phones in the bedroom, don’t have yours by your bed,” he says.
4. Remember, they are the child
Your child must be able to accept authority. Set ground rules and boundaries with heavy implications if they are broken. “Parents can feel powerless, particularly when it comes to technology, but you must pull them up on back chat and rudeness,” says Emma Saddleton of YoungMinds. “It is never too late to assert your authority.”
5. Help them to listen
The simple act of listening is invaluable in today’s changing workplace, according to Hugh Milward. “Nurture their fascination with ideas and concepts,” he says. “An inquisitive child is nearly always a good listener.”
6. Restrict their screen time
It’s unreasonable to think you can ban screens entirely but you must restrict their usage to protect your child from the social pressures that accompany them, insists Saddleton. Time Tokens is a scheme whereby children can “buy” screen time from their parents using vouchers. Sinek urges parents to enforce a rule banning phones from the kitchen table. “A phone on the table at dinner or in a meeting gives a subconscious message that you have more important people to talk to,” he says. “Phones are highly addictive, like gambling, alcohol and nicotine, and so you need to use them in moderation.”
7. Make friends not followers
Sinek blames social media for the younger generation’s constant need for praise and an inability to deal with criticism. Encourage your child to socialise through clubs, classes and hobbies. These group situations will help them become team players and demonstrate the value of face-to-face interaction over “likes” and “followers”. “The people who will thrive in the workplace of the future are those who are open, curious and adaptable, with the ability to collaborate,” says Candida Mottershead, HR director at Accenture.
8. Dare to be different
Encourage your child to have an opinion, and a thought process through which they have arrived at it, says Laura Hinton of PwC. “Employers are impressed by this, even if they don’t agree,” she says. Parents should also support their children to do things differently from their friends, adds Sinek. It will build their confidence.
9. Teach the art of conversation
Softer people skills are as important as academic prowess. “Encourage your child to speak up when they are talking and to use words correctly,” says Hinton. But don’t confuse self-confidence with showboating, adds James Nugent. “You don’t need to dominate a discussion to make a good impression.”
10. Help them to accept knock-backs
“Don’t wrap them up in cotton wool, they need to learn to bounce back and deal with failure, academic and otherwise,” says Saddleton. “Don’t tell them their work is brilliant when it’s not, don’t step in too soon, don’t stifle them.” Instead, build their self-confidence and resilience by encouraging them to take risks. “Companies would far rather recruit people who are prepared to have a go than those who aren’t prepared to fail,” says Hinton.
11. Know there’s no shame in asking for help
Asking for and offering help are essential skills, according to Sinek. Encourage your child to be quick to help others and to feel no shame in asking for assistance when struggling.
12. Be a stickler for first impressions
Encourage your child to be courteous on the phone and when answering letters, emails and texts – all vital skills in the workplace. A tailored suit might not be necessary in their line of work but they will still need to look presentable.
13. Keep their options open
Employers now operate “continuous learning” programmes for their staff and parents should adopt the same approach for their children, exposing them to as many subjects as possible to see where they thrive. Languages are a good bet – many graduate employers have a presence in multiple markets – as are STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).
“Coding and computer science are now as important as physics and chemistry,” says Hugh Milward of Microsoft. “Children will need these skills if they’re going to take advantage of our digitised economy.”
14. Find their spark
Every child has something they are naturally good at and love doing, according to parenting expert and author Tanith Carey. Sparks can be musical, athletic, intellectual or academic and consist of anything from helping to save animals, to playing an instrument or a sport, to growing and making things.
“Their spark will light their way to a future career that they excel in because they do it for the love of it,” she says. “It will give them a real sense of identity, direction and competence.”
15. Don’t fixate on ‘relevant’
Don’t worry if your child’s “spark” doesn’t lead to an obvious career. Increasingly the top graduate employers are more interested in what makes them tick than the subjects they studied at school. PwC has disregarded A-level results altogether and Penguin Random House doesn’t require applicants to have a degree.
“I remember an interviewee talking in depth about training to play the role of Fagin in a school play and the life skills he learnt,” says Nugent. “To me that was much more interesting than someone who had become treasurer of the university debating society just because they thought it sounded good.”
16. Give them realistic expectations
Don’t let there be a gap between what your child is expecting and the opportunities that may be available to them.
Do some research into universities, vocational training and future employers and discuss them with your child. Don’t write off careers or degree courses just because you don’t understand what they are; their generation is highly entrepreneurial and innovative.
17. Teach them to be flexible
To cope with the portfolio working and multiple careers that will become more prevalent in the future, the next generation needs to be highly adaptable. Encourage your child to fit in with plans, to adapt when arrangements fall through and to change tack when something isn’t working. “We’re interested in how young people can adapt under pressure, as well as what they know,” says Nugent.
18. Talk about their feelings
However unnatural it feels, you need to tell your child that it is OK to feel sad, angry or nervous rather than trying to make things better for them. Research by the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence suggests youngsters who can label their emotions and articulate them grow up to be happier, healthier, higher-achieving students who make better decisions in their lives and relationships. “Emotions are the drivers of attention, decision-making, relationships and our health,” says Mark Brackett, director of the Yale centre and founder of RULER, an emotional health programme that is being adopted by schools across Britain.
19. Promote digital literacy
Even if your child has no interest in becoming a software engineer, the ability to think analytically and sequentially will help them in a world where technology is a fundamental part of life. Coding is now part of the National Curriculum but parents should also be promoting it at home. There are apps and games available to show children that coding can be creative and fun (see box, above), while Code Club runs after-school clubs for nine- to 11-year-olds.
20. Help them to switch off
A hobby, some exercise, anything they love doing that is not screen-related. “You need to teach your child to be kind to themselves, to create space to think and unwind and to be aware of their mental health,” says Emma Saddleton.
21. Be their pressure gauge
Some children put too much pressure on themselves, some crack under pressure from a particular teacher, parent or exam and others are just oversensitive and need to toughen up. Be your child’s pressure gauge and if you’re in any doubt, seek help from your GP or school pastoral carer. “We speak to 13,000 parents every year who are in crisis because they didn’t call sooner,” says Saddleton.
“Being able to say you’re worried and don’t know the answer makes you a good parent.”
22. Cook and eat together
Children who eat with their parents have a more positive outlook, get better marks at school, enjoy higher self-worth and are even less likely to start smoking or taking drugs in their teen years, says Carey. “Studies show a direct link between the number of family meals and a child’s emotional wellbeing and school achievement.” Encourage your child to cook healthy meals with you. Not only does this cultivate an essential life skill, but it can also be great fun for both of you.
23. Don’t expect a mini-me
Never give the impression that your child is letting you down by not following the same route you or your friends did. With more companies offering apprenticeships, there is less emphasis on degrees. It is likely your children will have a very different career structure to your own.
24. Back off
In an uncertain future, with concerns about the shifting sands of nationalism and populism, a parent can feel a terrible weight of responsibility but there is also an argument for letting our kids get on with it, says Milward. “Children have a natural tendency to want to find things out and those are the very skills that will help to build our future,” he says. “Less management of children’s time can be just as effective as more.”
25. Send them to bed
Be strict about bedtime, says Saddleton. Sleep has proven advantages for memory and performance and recent research has suggested that long-term sleep deprivation can increase the risk of heart disease, obesity and cancer. A minimum of eight to nine hours’ sleep on school nights is recommended for teenagers by the NHS – and if we also turn out our own lights at a reasonable hour, that will only help to make parenting easier.