job market of tomorrow

Helping your high school student be prepared for the job market of tomorrow

Labor in America. The careers of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We think about this stuff ALL the time. And someday soon, your student will finish their formal education and get a job. In today’s world, graduating from college does not guarantee a job or may lead to underemployment. The overall percentage of recent college graduates in the United States who are underemployed as of January 2018 is 43.4%. (This article shows the underemployment rate for several majors as well.) Clearly, just going to college isn’t enough for the job market of tomorrow.

Add this to the mix: the job market in America is changing, and it is changing faster than it ever has before. Automation, technology, and global markets have fundamentally changed today’s careers. In reality, the jobs of tomorrow will be vastly different than the jobs of today. How can you help your high school student be prepared for the job market of tomorrow?

It is SO different for our kids!

When we were growing up, we could not conceive of job titles like social media managers, website optimizers, or information security analysts. Today, people to fill those jobs are in demand.

When our students join the labor force, new jobs will have emerged and brand new industries will pop up, too. How about “fitness commitment counselor” or “quantum machine learning analyst”? (We found those here: 21 Weird Tech Job Titles of the Future.)

As the parent of a high school student, are you thinking about this stuff? Maybe not. It may seem impossible to plan for, and to a certain extent, it is. However, recognizing the skills needed to be successful and providing experiences to our students to practice them now are great ways to help them be prepared for the future.

What skills will future employers crave?

This quote is impactful: “…soon, we’ll only be as good as the skills we possess.” Barely 1 in 10 business leaders feel strongly that a college education equips graduates with the skills and competencies their business needs (Gallup-Purdue Index Report 2016). Yuck. So they don’t get the right skills at college???

If you Google “skills needed for future careers,” you’ll get lots of different results, but one list we like a lot comes from Harvard’s Tony Wagner and his Seven Survival Skills:

  1. Critical thinking and problem-solving
  2. Collaboration
  3. Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  5. Effective oral and written communication
  6. Accessing and analyzing information
  7. Curiosity and imagination

We won’t dig too deeply into each of these individually (this article from Singularity Hub does). The important thing is to look for opportunities for your high school student to flex and develop these muscles. Students can hone these skills with:

  • Extracurricular activities
  • Work experiences
  • Summer camps
  • Interesting high school courses and electives
  • Self created projects/passions/hobbies
  • Exploration of their strengths and interests
  • Independent responsibilities (making appointments, doing their laundry)
  • Even just free, fun time

Sharing this message with your student is extremely important, too.

We often say that high school students keep their head down – working on that next assignment, studying for that next text, or thinking about that next football game or event. They don’t often lift their heads and look ahead. As parents, we can share this message with them so they start to consider the future.

Brainstorm about what summer camps would interest them. (We put together a great list each year.) Consider a club, perhaps outside their normal comfort zone. Encourage their independence and creativity. Include them in planning family meals or vacations. Explore the vast array of electives they can take. (We talk about educational options in both our Tips for the College-Bound program and our career-tech coffee chats.) Support their exploration of new stuff. (Two great options to help students understand their strengths are Guided Self Assessment, for grades 10 and up, and Heads Up!™, for grades 7-9.)

The high school years fly by.

Take a moment now to share these thoughts with your teen. Make a plan for a few deliberate actions over the coming months to help them build those Seven Survival Skills. More likely than not, efforts like that will be the key to your student’s successful transition to the working world. Which means they won’t live in your basement. And that’s a good thing for everyone.


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