The times they are a changin

By ionaminton, 23 February, 2011

Retirement? What Retirement?

“The times they are a changin” never before has the title of this Bob Dylan classic been more relevant. Baby Boomers, those born between 1945 and 1964 have witnessed some truly amazing shifts in the world. Who knows what is in store for generation Y? The warp speed growth of technology is going to impact the way our children interact with the world, they will be employed in fields that have not yet been conceived. Information is no longer the reserve of academics in dusty libraries; anyone who has access to a computer will be able to learn how to do virtually anything they can dream up.

What all this means is that we are living in a period of exponential change and there are a lot of reasons to believe that this phenomenon will continue for at least another ten to twenty years.

We now have to start thinking about a whole new game, our, cell phones, Ipads and laptops will carry literally everything we have ever done. Every movie we have ever seen, every book we have ever read, every paper or document we have ever read or written.

The fact that the whole world of wireless communication is going to be at your finger tips is going to- and is- changing  an awful lot of things.

And here we are still teaching children about amoeba’s!.

According to Nikki Bush, co-author with Dr Graeme Codrington of best-selling parenting book, Future-proof Your Child, it is anticipated that our children will most probably have 10 – 14 jobs by the age of 38!  “It is a future we can’t even imagine and we are going to have to bring up our children to be incredibly resilient in the face of change, and who love learning – you have to if you are going to have so many different jobs, as they will quite literally be learning on the job”

Children are going to have to be unbelievably creative as innovation will be the life-blood of companies in the future.  With much more automation of jobs coming down the line, our children must be able to do that which computers can’t – utilize creativity and imagination.

Bush explains that entire new industries will become mainstream when our children reach the world of work sometime between 2020 and 2030 including robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, space travel and nano-technology to name just a few.  Nano- tech is a good example of something totally different where many of our children will find or, probably more accurately, create jobs for themselves.  It is engineering at an atomic scale – large machines will become smaller than the size of a pinhead, we will not be able to see them.  Imagine selling something that is technically invisible to the naked eye!  Now that will require a new set of skills!

Commenting on the impact of the global economic recession, Bush says that If there is one thing that has been highlighted, it is that a job no longer equals security.  Companies can no longer promise you a job or an income based on your commitment and loyalty, because they can’t guarantee employment. Everything today boils down to economics.  Actually, this isn’t really such a new thing, it’s just that with the global recession we are only now starting to realise it.  The New York Times is even tracking MBA graduates who have been laid off work to see how they fare and if they can reinvent themselves.  So, if jobs no longer equal security, what does this mean for our children?

We need a generation of children with a huge entrepreneurial mindset because many of them will be self-employed.  Understand that EMS (Economic and Management Sciences) is now a very important subject in the curriculum.  Support it as essential and not just a “soft subject”.  The global trend is to downsize head offices and to outsource or microsource, in other words, to buy in the skills or talent required for particular projects for a limited period of time, and not necessarily to employ the person who has them.  Automation is also another trend that will replace people in the workplace.

Expose your children to your own business if you are an entrepreneur, or to friends who are making it as entrepreneurs.  They need to see self-employment in action.  And do share successes and failures with your children – they need to learn that success is often built on the lessons learnt through failure.


Bush says, ‘being an entrepreneur demands a very different skill set to being employed precisely because there are no guarantees and because you are the master of your own destiny.  The message for anyone who is still employed is that everyone today is at risk, we all need to be able to reinvent or re-engineer ourselves at will, in order to remain current and employable (as an employee or an external consultant or service provider).  You need to be constantly building your brand wherever you find yourself.  As management consultant and leadership expert Tom Peters says in his book, Talent: develop it, sell it, be it (Dorling Kindersley, 2005)’:

By encouraging your children to build their own unique brands, whether they are employed or self-employed, you will be ensuring that your children learn the lesson that they will be their own teachers.

Because we don’t know for sure exactly what jobs are coming down the line we need to future-proof our children so that they are ready for whatever life throws at them. Bush believes that children will need more than just grades to thrive in the future, they will need X-factors for success:

Creativity, resilience, a love of learning, relating to others and self-knowledge.

They will also need a lot of input from family and other relevant adults because schools can no longer future-proof children alone.  These X-factors can’t necessarily be taught, they are caught most of all by watching you – the parents! You have a huge responsibility.

So what does this mean in financial terms? Well there is one more shocking prediction to digest, it is estimated that the chances of a child born in 2000 living to the age of 130 are 50%. This means that if we stick with old paradigms they will retire at 65 and have another 55 years to fund in retirement. So in effect we are trying to educate our children to prepare for their futures 65 years from now. This is inconceivable given the speed at which the world is changing. For the first time in history we have no clue how to prepare for the future because the future has no guidelines.

The only solution is to keep your finger on the pulse of change, you are back in the school room with the best of the best and you need to keep up. Those of us who just ‘let’s life happen’ will be in a fight for survival. Now more than ever we need to learn how the world of money works and instil healthy savings habits in our children. Who knows, by the time they reach retirement age (perhaps at age 110) the worlds governments may have got a whole lot smarter and will have developed an economic system that takes care of the aging population in comfort. Who knows? As it stands, we don’t, all we can do is embrace the challenge and enjoy the ride.

Did you know?

It is estimated that one week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in an entire life time in the 18th century.

Food for thought.

Generation Y kids often arrive at work with equipment equal to or better than their employers and the top ten jobs of today did not even exist in 2004.




Copyright: Portal Publishing (Pty)Ltd | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Skills Portal | Careers Portal | Jobs Portal | Bursaries Portal | Skills Universe
About us | Contact us
Portal PublishingPress Council