Skills Kids Will Need to Succeed in the Modern World

20 years ago math teachers where still telling kids they won’t always have a calculator on them…

Now I don’t even need to pull the phone out of my pocket to get Siri to solve basic math questions.  Not only that I also have in my pocket pretty much every piece of information I could ever want.

Information is no longer as valuable, because we all have access to it at all times.

This has had a huge effect on the way we conduct ourselves and how the businesses operates and what skills are valued in employees.

As a simple example, if you where going to make a big purchase 15 or more years ago you’d get most of your information from the salesperson.  That person is motivated to make the sale more then anything in a lot of cases and where really the one holding all the cards.  Nowadays you can pull up reviews, compare features, price compare and more on any product before even speaking with a person… or just order online and cut out sales people completely.

If you had a medical issue you relied solely on your doctor for information.  Now you can read studies, treatment options, get in touch with other people with the same issue, see lab results, etc.  All completely independently.

If you need to do some work around the home you can google the problem and pull up countless DIY videos and posts on plumbing, electrical, repair, construction, etc.

Information is available to everyone as easy as a 5 second search on a device we carry with us pretty much 24/7.

Education is needing changes to adapt to the changing world, but changes in education happen slower then changes in the real world when it comes to tech.  So the rest of the community needs to help out and make sure kids are ready for the new and changing demands that will help make them successful in life.

So what are the skills that are becoming more and more important?

Knowing the answer is less important, we all have the answers in our pocket.  What is important is knowing the right question.  Being able to identify problems and find the right questions to produce the answers. Creativity and problem finding lead to problem solving.  Whether it is on a sales floor, in a board room or inventing a new product the person that can ask the right questions is the one that will come up with the best solution.

Creativity.  It’s now been 10 years since Ken Robinsons talk entitled “Do Schools Kill Creativity” went viral and got a lot of people thinking about education in the modern world.  Creativity in a age of easy access to information, automation and rapidly changing landscapes the ability to change, adapt and find new solutions is more important then ever.  Massive businesses like Blockbuster Video can disappear in the blink of an eye as new technology and behaviours take over.

Sales… Now when I say sales I don’t mean just selling people a product or service for money.  Sales happens everywhere.  More so then ever now.  A doctor must sell you on the best treatment options, while competing against 5 other options you found online.  A boardroom is full of sales presentations on which direction a company should turn.  Experts are no longer experts just because they have the information, we all have the information, they need to be able to ask the right questions to get us to buy their solution.

Adaptability.  Chances are, no matter what you do, it’s changed in some significant ways as a position over the past 20 years.  Entire career choices have disappeared, new ones have appeared and virtually every mid to high level position has undergone massive changes in the way business is done.

Media. Something interesting has happened, I heard a stat the other day that said about 40% of adults now have some sort of side business.  Whether it is selling on etsy, online ventures, offering consulting services, involvement in a MLM or starting a full business.  The playing field has levelled out substantially for “the little guy” and starting a small or even side business has never been easier.  The reason is everyone now has the ability to be their own media company.  If your content and message is good, you can have a successful channel on any number of mainstream platforms.  Youtube is now bigger then the big networks, and you can get on free with the camera on your phone.

What’s interesting is that as technology becomes more and more involved in our day to day lives it is a lot of the “soft skills” that seem to be becoming more and more important.  Even in very academic disciplines… an accountant that has a strong camera presence or the ability to write simple and relevant blog posts will dominate in the market over perhaps a slightly more skilled accountant that lacks the ability to capture an audience and build a network and personal brand.