Futureproofing

Photo: iStock.com/Marilyn Nieves

So what does the future really hold? One thing is certain: the future is unpredictable. Matthew Smith explores the future of work and how parents can help children to grasp the unpredictable world ahead of them.

Everyone seems to enjoy predicting the future. You cannot read the news without seeing forecasts and speculation for what our world will look like in 2019 and beyond. Futurologists (now, there's a career choice) come up with all sorts of predictions from the patently obvious to the pretty bizarre. And with any major sporting event, the media are not content to limit the predictions to just a bunch of pundits: they instead give airtime to an octopus to provide pre-match insight. And we all watch, half wanting to believe an octopus can actually be psychic.

So what does the future really hold? Well, I can honestly say I have no more insight than a cephalopod but one thing is certain: the future is unpredictable. We need to help our children grasp unpredictability with both hands and so need to remember how the world looks through a child's eyes. I have always liked the quote from the late Douglas Adams in A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where he explains that anything in the world when you are born is 'normal and ordinary' and anything invented between the ages of 15 and 35 is 'new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it'. His conclusion perfectly explains how, as you get older, your desire to embrace new things evaporates: 'Anything invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things.'

If you are from a generation who can still remember the burr-whizz-burr of a dial-up modem, you take the proclamations of the benefits of 5G with a hint of scepticism. I find myself saying to my kids, 'Back in my day, a phone was used to make phone calls' like some grumpy old misfit. But it was all simpler back in the 90s – our career guidance options were pretty much limited to professions and occupations which were open to our parents. It's a different world now.

Matthew Smith is the Editor of Attain.