Do you remember the day you finished school? (Or maybe you’re still looking forward to it…)
That feeling to finally venture out into the Big Wide World full of adventures and achievements.
That sweet promise of freedom! The looming sense of responsibilities…
India Trips And The Not-So-Hip Cubicle Nation
My grandparents’ generation went straight from school to work to family life.
They learned “a trade” and stayed in it for the rest of their lives. When they could no longer work, they got a pension. period.
Their children, the Baby Boomers were rather different. During or after school they went rolling in the mud in Woodstock, going on “India Trips” and anti-war sit-ins … but when they grew up and the drugs had worn off, most of them cut off their manes and went to pursue rather steady and “square” careers in offices, corporations or the government.
(Famous Baby Boomers are: Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs)
No Job Securities, No Retirement Plans, Multiple Careers
Sometimes I try to imagine what it will be like for kids finishing school in the future.
Even now, we are already faced with
a new economy that has no job security, no definite retirement plans, and the expectation that we are expected to perform more tasks in the workplace than ever before. (source)
But the way our education system works is still more or less the same like in our grandparents’ time with the only difference that a University degree is nothing special anymore. Nevertheless, if you want to get a good job, you have to get one. But if you do have one, it’s no guarantee for a good job, either. Sounds strange? It certainly is.
CHILDREN born today will not enter the workforce until their late 20s, but will stay at work well into their 70s, demographers predict. […] The group dubbed Generation Alpha, born between 2010 and 2024, will study longer than previous generations, change careers at least five times and will more likely be self-employed, according to social forecasts. (source)
Start-Ups And Reboots
Tom Friedman observed in his recent NYT article that although the fastest growing companies in America are Internet or Social Media services like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook they don’t employ that many people!
Those companies are very different from the industrial giants like General Motors.
They employ very few but highly skilled and versatile individuals.
Tasks that require no creative thinking are automized. There is no brute work-force.
So what are all these kids going to do after school if this trend of (less number of good jobs with higher and higher requirements) continues?
Not everyone can work at Twitter or Facebook, even if we can somehow turn them all into computer or marketing geniuses, or can they?
Reid Garrett Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, board-member of Zynga and Mozilla, author of a book called “The Start-Up Of You” presented a rather interesting take on this in conversation with Friedman:
“The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone,” […] “No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.”
So, no: Not everyone will become a wildly successful entrepreneur. Not everyone can become the next Zuckerberg. But if you want to succeed on tomorrow’s job market you have to learn to think like an entrepeneur.
You Might Not Become The Next Big Thing But That’s No Excuse, Either
From an educational perspective that means if we want to prepare children for the future, just stuffing them with knowledge and promising a stable job will not work!
Most of the knowledge, unless highly specialized, is available 24/7 on the Internet.
Those stable jobs: They don’t exist.
What we need is to encourage kids to be creative and take responsibility for what they want to do instead of wasting away years and years in schooling only to find out that noone is really waiting for them with a job. As Hoffmann said:
“You can’t just say, ‘I have a college degree, I have a right to a job, now someone else should figure out how to hire and train me.’ ”
The world of stable jobs and doing the same thing for decades has gone. Nobody really knows where we’re heading…
That new world might look scarier, less secure.
But isn’t it also more exciting?