Challenging times for our kids and what you as a parent can do

When you have kids, you want to give them everything, and more important than things, that often means teaching them the skills they’ll need for a happy, confident and adventurous life. A core component of parenting has always been about trying to prepare our kids to be successful (or at least sufficient) in the economic landscape we envision or anticipate for them.

This leaves us with a problem …… Parents need to reboot the frameworks that many grew up with in order reflect the world that our kids are facing.

Our kids are growing up in challenging social and economic environments. Population increase, automation, globalization, economic slowdown, disruptive technologies and outsourcing are just a few of the factors driving the current seismic shifts in how the careers and economic landscape operate. The nature of work is evolving rapidly, with the ranks of so-called “contingent workers” growing fast. It’s been estimated that just five years from now, a huge portion of the workforce, especially ‘white collar’ and knowledge professionals, will be freelancers, part-timers, contract workers, or otherwise self-employed.

Employment opportunities are limited and high rates of unemployment amongst young people present challenges not only for the youth themselves but also for their families and society in general. It is important to note that just focusing on the youth unemployment rate fails to take underemployment, vulnerable employment, and working poverty into account. Moreover, because unemployment is often defined as those who are actively seeking work, discouraged young people who have given up looking for work but are ready to work are excluded from unemployment figures.

Africa has the youngest population in the world. There are an estimated 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 on the African continent which it is expected to double by 2045. In South Africa, a third of our population is younger than 14. Do I need to say more? The large numbers of young people joining the labour force every year are putting great pressure on already crowded job markets.

How must we prepare our children for these realities? Part of the answer is that we as parents need to raise kids with an entrepreneurial mindset — a skill that is increasingly important as young people must become less dependent on the formal job market and fend more and more for themselves in a crowded, harsh world, and as the freelance economy grows.

To be clear, raising entrepreneurial kids doesn’t mean trying to grow your own Steve Jobs. Instead, it’s about deliberately fostering an entrepreneurial mentality. Regardless of what your kids grow up to do, they’ll need an entrepreneurial skill set in order to do it well.

If you don’t personally identify with the term “entrepreneur,” don’t talk yourself out of facilitating these experiences for your child. They are simple and you can do them. The good news is that according to research, the entrepreneurial mindset relates to attributes and behaviours that can be learned, practiced and passed on. Even if your child never starts a business, these qualities will make them more employable. What are they you may ask? – well for starters the following are non-negotiable: Resilience; Communication; Innovation & Creativity; Independence & Accountability; Diligence; Curiosity; (Self) Confidence; Empathy; Optimism; Financial Literacy, and; Teamwork.

The youth of today really has a daunting task in the job market and the future doesn’t seem too rosy as well. But, in the words of Eric Sinseki “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less”.