February 25, 2011

Is Your Head in the Sand?

Sometimes it's easier to ignore something than to face the reality of it.

For example, there are all sorts of changes going on in our economy (and in the world) right now that are going to dramatically change the world of work. Yet many people are in denial, and would prefer to think about which movie will win an Academy Award, or which celebrity is pregnant, than what's going on in the world and how they can prepare their children for it.

But look at a string of charts like this one and you can't deny that change is in the air. While the comments surrounding these charts may be a bit alarmist, the fact is that we're in very unstable economic weather right now.

Add to that the fact that the rate of technological change is increasing, and it becomes clear that our children will not work in the same kind of world we've known. We have to prepare them for an uncertain future.

February 22, 2011

Disappearing Jobs: What Will Happen Next?

Writer Andy Kessler posed the question "Is Your Job an Endangered Species?" in last Thursday's Wall Street Journal. His article and the accompanying comments may not completely answer that question, but they certainly pose some interesting additional questions.

We cannot know for certain which jobs will survive in the future and what kinds of new jobs will be created. In fact, many of the industries our children will work in have not yet come into being. But if we raise our kids with certain skills and mindsets, they will thrive in whatever job they can find....they may even create their own.

February 18, 2011

A House for the Price of a Car----Say What?

A recent article entitled "4 Bedrooms for the Price of 4 Wheels" is getting a lot of attention this week because it illustrates how low house prices have gotten in some areas of the country compared to the price of cars, which doesn't vary much geographically.

This story also illustrates the huge differences in how people in various parts of the country view this economy. If you live in an area where $40,000 is the going rate for a house, you've known about the economic difficulties we're having for quite some time. But if you live in an area where the average home price still tops $300,000, you may think of the recession as something that happened a few years ago and is long gone.

Nevertheless, the economic problems we have on a national level continue to cast a pall on our economic future. This is why it's so important to prepare your children for the new economy. Just because things are good where you live now doesn't mean they won't change, or that your children will stay in your area.

February 15, 2011

More Warnings About College

Struggling with the idea of not sending your child to college? This writer makes a case for it by crunching numbers. And this writer, an economics professor, explains the current trouble with college very succinctly:

The diploma serves as a screening device that allows businesses to narrow down the applicant pool quickly and almost without cost to the employer, but with a huge financial cost to the individual earning the diploma (often at least $100,000), and to society at large in the form of public subsidies.

What to do? It's an extremely personal decision between you and your child. For starters, you can determine your child's interests and talents to see if college will even be useful to him or her. If so, you'll need to do a lot of research because there are many options. Thanks to the Internet, your child can get a college education for free through self-study, though no degree would be involved. You and your child will have to decide if a degree is worth the considerable expense of college.

February 11, 2011

More Part-Time Jobs Being Created in the U.S.

Last week I posted about the low rate of full-time jobs being created in Britain; 97% of new jobs there are part-time.

Now a new study has found that 75% of the new jobs in the U.S. are part-time jobs. To make matters worse, only 5% of newly created jobs are considered high-wage ($17-$31 per hour) jobs. What does this mean for our kids? It means we had better prepare them for a world much different than the one we grew up in. My new book, Thriving in the 21st Century, explains just how to do that. Watch for it this spring!

February 8, 2011

Questioning the Need for a Degree

Questioning the need for everyone to earn a college degree in the new economy has hit the mainstream, with Harvard University's Graduate School of Education issuing a report stating that the push for "college for all" may actually hurt young people.

This contrasts strongly with President Barack Obama's 2009 State of the Union address, where he said:

...this country needs and values the talents of every American.  That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal:  by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

So who's right? Parents need to do their research and also determine if their children are college material. Given the high (and rising) cost of college, the decision is more crucial than ever.

February 4, 2011

Less Work for More People?

Across the pond, 97% of recently created jobs were part-time jobs. Here in the U.S. we're seeing a decrease in working hours, too, although not that extreme. Not yet, anyway.

Some believe this is just the beginning. Years ago, Jeremy Rifkin's The End of Work predicted this would happen. No one knows for sure what the future holds, but playing it safe seems prudent. If we teach our kids to handle money wisely and carefully, they'll be able to handle life on a small salary better than those who aren't taught to stretch a buck.

February 1, 2011

What Do Your Kids Love to Do?

What do your kids love to do? What are their interests, their passions? It's likely that doing the things they're good at could be the key to their future employment.

Sir Ken Robinson is a creativity expert who has studied successful, creative people. In his book The Element, he addresses the issue of helping kids find their talents and passions:

The only way to prepare for the future is to make the most out of ourselves on the assumption that doing so will make us as flexible and productive as possible…..

Many people set aside their passions to pursue things they don’t care about for the sake of financial security. The fact is, though, that the job you took because it “pays the bills” could easily move offshore in the coming decade. If you have never learned to think creatively and to explore your true capacity, what will you do then?

More specifically, what will our children do if we continue to prepare them for life using the old models of education? It’s very possible that our children will have multiple careers over the course of their working lives, not simply multiple jobs. Many of them will certainly have jobs we haven’t conceived yet. Isn’t it therefore our obligation to encourage them to explore as many avenues as possible with an eye toward discovering their true talents and their true passions?

How do we, as parents, encourage our children to develop their talents and passions? By helping them when they ask for it, and then getting out of their way. Given the opportunity, young people can find their passions on their own.