“Automation in agriculture led the United States to overhaul its education system and develop the K-12 and university system we use today. Similarly, the U.S. must develop a way to re-skill people whose jobs are taken by computer algorithms.” – Andrew Ng
Generational divides can affect how we view and embrace the career landscape. We grow up seeing the world a particular way, then find it hard to look past that ingrained perspective when our own children venture out into a world that is so different from the one we grew up in.
But it’s important to know, in this time of economic uncertainty and unclear prospects, that digital technology is bringing a huge range of possibilities when it comes to the workplace, and children growing up today have plenty of solid options for lasting careers.
Read on to discover some of the paths your children could take in the digital world, and learn how you can best support them in developing valuable skills.
Marketing Through Digital Media
Whether it’s managing SEO to get websites ranking highly in Google, writing for blogs, advertising on social media, or reviewing products, there are numerous avenues for marketing through technology, and they should all remain viable well into the future.
What’s more, there isn’t a particularly daunting barrier to entry for the digital media world. The best way to get young people prepared for it as a possible career choice is to get them to approach their existing online activity from an analytical perspective. Just about every child in the western world today knows how to do anything you care to mention using a smartphone—they just need to find a way to codify and exploit that understanding.
Additionally, it’s worth throwing a cursory nod to YouTube content creators, Twitch streamers, and crowdfunding-supported creatives of all kinds here. It’s unclear how those industries will hold up over time, particularly as YouTube monetization currently seems to be a deflating bubble, but the general concept of creating good digital content and making a living from collecting small but regular contributions is solid.
Working in AI
Toward the end of 2017, Peter Sondergaard, the executive vice president of research and advisory at IT research firm Gartner, said that even though AI will render 1.8 million jobs obsolete by 2020, it will create 2.3 million jobs in the process. Regardless of whether it continues to have a net positive effect on the jobs market, it seems inarguable that demand for workers in the AI sector will continue to grow at a massive rate.
To work on AI projects, a child will likely need to become either a scientist, an engineer, or a developer. (Specific roles include research and development engineers, research scientists, and business intelligence developers.) Fortunately, there is a significant overlap in the skills required, and it will be entirely possible to segue from a broad primer in programming to the necessary niche elements.
If AI is something you think might interest your children, you should look to introduce the general topics and direct their reading in relevant directions. At an appropriate time, try giving them Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence and Pedro Domingos’s The Master Algorithm, as recommended by Bill Gates.
Developing for the Web
Web development is a field in very solid standing. AI is unlikely to become a threat for a long time (it’s unclear when machine learning will reach a point of being able to do anything beyond basically iterating upon existing work), and automation only drives further innovation.
For example, some e-commerce development agencies will inevitably have seen a dip in their workload in recent years following events like Github’s development platform making great quantities of community-reviewed code available for use, and Shopify’s web-store maker achieving market dominance through making it viable to launch an online store without going through a developer—but this automation trend has produced two substantial positive effects:
- Firstly, it has raised the bar for regular websites, making it harder for retailers to stand out and thus more important for them to invest heavily in good custom development.
- Secondly, it has showed how quickly things can change; in principle, there’s nothing stopping any developer from building better solutions and overthrowing current leaders.
Children starting out in web development today needn’t fear the threat of automation, because they can one day use automation to their own ends to produce solutions that outperform existing ones—especially since the ongoing move toward an ‘internet of things’ (IOT) will continue to produce plenty of unprecedented avenues for development. Throw in UX/UI as important considerations, and you have a recipe for a stable career path.
There are a number of handy web development resources available online.
It’s important that kids begin learning about careers in middle and high school so they can make educated decisions after high school. If your child’s school doesn’t offer career education, consider other school choices such as online learning.