Futureproof your child

2015-06-07 15:00

At a recent Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs) forum, futurist Graeme Codrington, education specialist Michelle Lissoos and parenting expert Nikki Bush gave an overview of how the world of work is shifting. We are living through an era shift – much like the Industrial Revolution that began in the 18th century. Deep structural changes in our society will leave nothing unchanged and our children will live and – importantly – work in a different place.

It is up to us – parents, employers and educators – to prepare all our children for the path that lies ahead of them. No longer can we prepare a path for them.

The three speakers all agreed that for businesses to “futureproof” themselves, they must put parenting higher on the agenda and that developing the right talent for what is already on its way will come down to a joint effort between companies, schools and parents.

Codrington lays out four areas in which the way we work will change irrevocably:

By 2025, half the jobs your company has now won’t exist. The automation of workplaces probably won’t be guys out of Terminator, but advances in hardware and software systems to create algorithms that make decisions in your workplace that used to be made by a person.

By 2025 a quarter of the people in your office will be freelancers. This is the growth of the on-demand economy. The skills your business needs only when it needs them will be paid for only when it needs them.

It’ll be like Hollywood, which pulls together a team of people with different sets of expertise to make a movie – so they’ve perfected the art of the on-demand economy over 100 years. Ten years from now, your law firm and engineering firm will operate in the same way.

The next big thing is well-priced smartphones for everyone, free Wi-Fi for Africa and free cloud storage. This means everyone will be able to participate in the information economy. The current technological barriers to entry will be removed – opening up the world to all.

This change has already significantly disrupted many industries, including journalism. The trend will continue, removing another barrier to entry for those who cannot currently afford to pay for content.

Check out: To see how the on-demand economy is already working, check out elance.com, fivver.com and kaggle.com


The children in Grade 1 today will be in the new world of work in 2025.

They have been born into technology and they have no need to learn facts by rote (they can google them). We – parents and educators – have to create critical thinkers. Teaching needs to get way beyond the three R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. Rather, we have to teach our children to curate and critically evaluate the highways of information they have access to.

South African schools, says Lissoos, have yet to make the systematic shift required. Education needs to be in the service of learning, not simply to get children through exams and issued with a matric certificate. Substitution – swapping a blackboard for a whiteboard – is not the needed redefinition we need to prepare our children for the path they will be on in the new world of work.

Technology is used too often in education as a Band-Aid, when what is really needed is a structural shift to collaborative, critical thinking that needs to start with educators.



“Children of this generation need family more than any other thing to frame their values, the backdrop of their lives,” says Bush.

Childhood has become institutionalised. Our children rush from activity to activity, childcare is outsourced and children have far too little time to “tinker and potter”. It is this tinkering and pottering that teaches them to think creatively, to discover who they are and what they are good at. In the new world of work, “who you are is far more important than what you do”, and, she adds – to paraphrase American columnist George W Crane – we have to teach our children that there is no future in any job, but rather that the future lies in the person who holds the job. 

Bush’s X-factors for success we must teach our children:

1. Creativity and the ability to break conventions.

2. Learning – to keep up and learn new things all the time.

3. Resilience – we must teach our children to adapt to and adopt change constantly.

4. We must teach our children to know themselves and understand who they are.

5. We must teach our children to relate to others, and this begins at home. The family is the first team our children will play on and work in.

Bush says parents should be aware that:

1. We are all time-starved. Learn to be present in the moment with your children, even if it is just moments.

2. Parents are the hidden curriculum, and 85% of what children need to learn they learn from their parents.

3. There is far too much scheduling of children’s lives.


Are you preparing your children for this new world? Tell us how you are doing it. Send an SMS to 35697 with the keyword FUTURE. Each SMS costs R1.50


Exploring a sustainable energy future for SA and the SADC

Wednesday, June 10 2015

Join deputy minister of energy Thembi Majola, energy expert Chris Yelland and other panel members for a strategic dialogue on the perplexities of the current energy crisis and the creation of a sustainable energy strategy for South Africa. This dialogue forms part of a series of such engagements nationally.

The new world of disruptive business

Tuesday, June 23 2015

With Alon Lits, general manager of Uber Johannesburg; Chidi Okpala, Africa head of Airtel Money; and Andre Hugo, founder and “chief jammer” at M4JAM (Money for Jam).

Sustainable frontiers: Unlocking change through business, leadership and technology

Wednesday, June 24 2015

With Dr Wayne Visser, director of the think-tank and media company Kaleidoscope Futures; and Clem Sunter, scenario planner and author of 21st Century Megatrends: Perspectives from a Fox.

Next on City Press

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March 29 2020