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Parents can help their children acquire the right skills now

By Yetty Williams
31 July 2021   |   2:59 am
Parents can help their children and youth acquire the right skills to excel. The Sustainable Development Goals have less than 10 years to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Ensuring our youth have the right skills, through education and training is a critical part of achieving the SDG goals. Africa is the world’s youngest region with three-fifths…

Parents can help their children and youth acquire the right skills to excel. The Sustainable Development Goals have less than 10 years to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Ensuring our youth have the right skills, through education and training is a critical part of achieving the SDG goals.

Africa is the world’s youngest region with three-fifths of its population under 25. In the coming decades, one-third of global youth will live here. Very soon, it will be home to the largest concentration of young people. It is therefore critical that they have the skills to participate productively in the workforce.

Investing in youth employment requires a collaborative approach to helping youth acquire the right skills to promote job growth and skills development. In addition according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), our youth need policies and an enabling environment to make self-employment easier and ensure better working conditions and rights at work.

Skills Needed to Excel
The World Economic Forum has a list of top skills required to succeed and what’s interesting to note is that their research highlights the fact that 50 per cent of workers need re-skilling by 2025. Furthermore, if you look at the list of what’s required to succeed in today’s workplace, it is not what we used to focus on. It is no more about only technical skills, such as whether you are a coder or not, the skills required are much broader than that.

For example, good leadership skills, as well as creativity are important skills to acquire for future jobs. Additionally, skills such as critical thinking, being able to work with a team are important for success today. Soft skills in addition to purely academic or technical skills are one of the biggest shifts in terms of what is required.

And if we’re focusing on youth, we are talking about people who are going to be working, for the next 20 to 40 years and more. So what does that mean for them if things have changed so much and continue to change? The job of having the right skills starts with parenting. If a parent is still focused on, the jobs that were in high demand, then there is a huge gap between what parents are focusing on and what your child actually needs.

Parents need to start realising that their children’s jobs are going to change. So if we know that our jobs are going to change, what we need to focus on includes ensuring that our children have the right skills and are flexible enough to fit into whatever industry might come up in the future.

Soft versus Hard Skills
In several recent surveys; employers have complained that entry-level workers lack the necessary “soft” skills needed for success in the workforce. For the sake of clarity, the “hard” skills are job-specific knowledge an employee needs to perform a certain job. While unlike hard skills, soft skills are not about the knowledge you possess but rather the behaviours you display in different situations or the way you interact with others.

Examples of soft skills are good listening, teamwork, dependability, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and integrity. Soft skills are vitally important to employers because they ultimately determine whether you can be a positive contributor to the team, become a leader, and effectively accomplish your work.

Soft skills are not taught in school. Parents are usually the child’s first teacher, to encourage them to acquire the right skills, which is then followed by early work experience. When you combine a lack of work experience and parents who overprotect their children instead of allowing them to learn from mistakes; young adults are getting their first jobs in their 20’s unprepared.

These are some of the issues that contribute to the inability of young people to get and hold jobs. While entrepreneurship can be alluring, it is not an escape route as soft skills are even more critical for the success of a small business.

How Parents Can Help Children Acquire the Right Skills
Communication is the number one soft skill that employers are seeking. Parents can teach their children and help them acquire a variety of skills including communication skills. Some of which include active listening, public speaking, and writing in a way so that others can understand them. In addition, being able to ask for clarification when needed is part of the skills that our children need to acquire.

There are certain attributes that sell well. For example, an interviewer and potential employer will be much more impressed with a candidate who makes eye contact, nods while listening; and fully answers a question than pure hard skills.

Parents can teach and model having a good work ethic. Most people prefer to deal with people who are motivated, follow through and take ownership. On the other hand, employers are quick to fire employees who do not deliver and are not self-motivated.

Lastly, parents should guide their children on how to interact in the digital world. Their digital footprints make a big impact on their future.

Raising Life-Long Learners
Parents need to raise children who are lifelong learners. Children are born curious and parents should encourage this curiosity and creativity. Some parents, unfortunately, don’t know that they kill creativity by telling their children to stop asking so many questions. Such responses kill a child’s natural sense of curiosity. However, we should allow them to explore. This is because the more you explore, the more responsible you are for your learning. And it is then easier to acquire the right skills and become a lifelong learner.

Our young children today, the Gen Z and Alphas are digital natives. This means that they don’t know a pre-digital world. They don’t know a world that wasn’t connected to the internet and technology or the use of smart devices. A digital native’s first thought when they need information is to go online and seek it. Therefore as modern parents, raising children to use the digital tools at their disposal the right way is part of raising a successful digital citizen.

Preparing for the Gig Economy
The increase in the gig economy encourages more people to become freelancers and have remote work on a computer. The remote workers are not going into a structured nine to five office job and therefore need to be able to self-motivate.

More of our children will probably be part of the gig economy or not so much a structured nine to five office job. Those that acquire the right skills will be in a better position to excel.

As we saw during the pandemic; several people who worked from home struggled with distractions and lacked self-motivation. For example, while supposedly working from home, perhaps you are really on YouTube or scrolling through social media. These are the team members who are more likely to complain about having wicked bosses without mentioning that they are not delivering on their job.

Our youth need to learn that working from home is not a cop-out to hang out. Rather working from home or for yourself does not equate to not working hard.

Overall, parents are in the best position to help their children acquire the right set of skills; both hard and soft skills; to succeed in the future.

Contributed by Yetty Williams
Parenting Coach | Founder/CEO LagosMums
LagosMums is a parenting and family resource for mums, parents, and caregivers.

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