Why Youth Shouldn’t Focus on Job Titles

JP Michel

“Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. Ask them what problem they want to solve.”

-Jaime Casap, Google Global Education Evangelist

To prepare our young people for the new world of work, we need to move away from considering only the jobs available to them, and shift our attention to the challenges, problems and opportunities that exist in the world.

What Are ‘The Jobs’?

Focusing on jobs during youth career development is a mistake. First, most teenagers are only aware of a small fraction of available jobs. Second, many of today’s jobs will change as new industries are created and others die. Third, several types of jobs are at risk of being replaced by artificial intelligence or other emerging technologies. Therefore, instead of focusing on jobs, we need to help youth see the bigger picture: the challenges, the problems and the opportunities that exist in society and in the world of work.

Focus on Challenges

While jobs and careers are likely to change, the challenges that we are trying to solve will remain. In fact, as our perspective on certain issues evolves, new challenges to tackle will emerge as well. Some of the most important challenges we will face in the future include: redesigning the health care system, collecting and using big data, and managing the planet’s waste. These opportunities have the potential to create meaningful work for youth. By helping youth identify and understand these challenges, we are opening up their world and enabling them to making a significant contribution to the workplace.

The Shift

How can we help young people make this shift? Parents and professionals can help by boldly sharing the challenges that they are currently working on. In addition, they can help students identify challenges they are interested in through guided exploration of media, such as news outlets, magazines and websites. Finally, teachers can help students connect the school projects they are working on with the associated challenges in the world of work.

As the world of work continues to change, young people need to move away from considering only the jobs and careers available to them, and shift their attention to the challenges, problems and opportunities that exist in the world. This simple shift will unlock new opportunities, offer a different way of looking at their environment, and provide a powerful approach to preparing for their success.

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