What kind of jobs will our children have?

What kind of jobs will our children have? Typing pool Missouri State Archives

When I was a boy, I wanted to work in a bank when I grew up. (Yes, I was that dull.) There were lots of jobs in retail banking back then; considerably fewer now. Today I’m a social media manager – a job that didn’t exist until a few years ago. It makes me wonder what jobs our kids will have when they grow up …

Suzanne over at Inside, Outside & Beyond recently wrote a post titled When did blogging become a dirty word? in which she posed some thought-provoking questions. Why are so many people ashamed to admit they are bloggers? Why don’t non-bloggers regard blogging as a legitimate career?

There is no single answer – but certainly there are a number of factors at play here.

You’re a what?

Bloggers have heard all the disparaging remarks before. You’re more of a blagger than a blogger. It’s not a real job. You’re just in it for the freebies. Anyone can do it.


Ultimately, though, most of the naysaying leads back to the fact that blogging is a new profession that is still evolving and misunderstood by people outside the industry.

Some people will point out – rightly, in my opinion – the lack of professional standards and regulation. But this is true of any new industry, not just blogging.

Others will point out examples of bloggers whose content simply isn’t up to scratch. But this is true of any industry too. For every skilled, conscientious builder, there is a cowboy. For every incisive political or social pundit, there is a Piers Morgan.

There is no shame in being a blogger, no matter what the uninformed might think. I know bloggers who have become bestselling authors, radio presenters and playwrights. I’m one of many who have appeared on radio or TV because we are articulate, expert commentators on our chosen topics. Several have made blogging into a well-paid full-time career; many more earn a good part-time income. Make no mistake: blogging is now a genuine profession in its own right.

You just spend your entire day on Twitter, right?

It’s not as extreme, but I sometimes get a similar reaction when I tell people I’m a social media manager. Social media isn’t proper marketing. You just spend your entire day on Twitter, right? Call that a real job? Anyone can do it.

Sure, whatever. We spend in the seven-figure range on social media advertising annually, so that feels like proper marketing to me. And, like many other managers in our company, I spend most of my day on Skype, Powerpoint and Excel. (Okay, and Twitter when I’m in the coffee queue.)

Like blogging, jobs in social media are often misunderstood or looked down upon by others. Let the dinosaurs sneer. I’ll keep on working in an industry that offers more opportunities for growth and challenge than just about any other in the business world. If people can’t recognise what is happening all around them, more fool them.

The world is changing, folks – more dramatically and more quickly than ever. Keep up or get left behind.

So, what about our kids?

So how do we prepare our kids for a future work environment that will look nothing like today’s? How do we prepare them for jobs that don’t even exist yet?

When I was a child, typing pools were still commonplace. And banks had huge rooms of clerks to tot up the daily ledgers. Today those jobs no longer exist; instead we have computers and enterprise systems and the dreaded Microsoft Outlook.

The world of work is constantly changing. And, like other aspects of our modern lives, the pace of change is accelerating. The Industrial Revolution shifted jobs from farms to factories. Automation and robotics moved them from manufacturing to service industries. A decade ago there were no social media managers, blogs hadn’t become commercial yet and there was no such thing as an Instagram influencer – because Instagram hadn’t been invented yet.

Looking forward, the advent of driverless vehicles threatens to transform the transport industry. (Will there even be any lorry, taxi or bus drivers in 15-20 years’ time?) And what happens to all those call centre jobs when chatbots take over?

What will the landscape look like when our kids are ready to join the workforce? I don’t know but the one thing is I am sure of is that it will look very different from the one I entered 25 years ago.

We can’t easily prepare our kids for specific professions any more because we don’t know for sure what current jobs will still exist and what new ones have emerged. There isn’t even much point in asking them what they want to be when they grow up. What we can do is encourage them to develop a versatile range of technical and interpersonal skills. Then, whatever the future has in store for them, they will at least be as ready as they can possibly be.

Maybe the children who will be best prepared to embrace the future are those who are skilled in logical thinking, working effectively with others and dealing with constant change – as opposed to those who are technically proficient in maths, science or the arts.

That’s quite a radical departure from our traditional subject-based education system. So maybe more of the onus falls on us as parents to help guide our children in a world that is very different to the one we grew up in.

It’s scary. But it’s exciting too, isn’t it?


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