Insights into boys are available here with new ones added periodically. You can view previous insights by using the archive below.
Insight No. 29
Preparing our young men for the changing workplace of the 21st century
Today’s students are the best educated generation ever but the least prepared for the future as they face rapid and constant change. New technologies have compressed time and space. We see history as it happens: CNN, Sky News, YouTube, Facebook etc.
There are now some excellent self-instruction programs available as on-line packages and for purchase as CD-ROMs and DVDs. We find that boys get instant gratification and success. With the use of images and interactive screens they are achieving remarkable success. Often they produce more quality work and enjoy it more when it is delivered through technology and on-line learning than they do in a traditional classroom setting with so many disruptions. The pace of their work improves through this medium as well as their accuracy. We are, indeed, fortunate to be living in the “Information Age.”
Fuelling these changes are Micro Chips embedded into everything. In 1960 if all computers stopped functioning there would be very little impact but in the present day, society would grind to a halt – no Planes, Water, Cars, Power, Food, Communications, Internet, Money etc.
Full time employment for teenagers in the last decade fell by 65% and part time employment rose by 85%. Labour-intensive jobs are giving way to higher-order jobs as a result of the technology revolution we are currently experiencing. Many people are now working from home and this will continue as we become a virtual workforce. We carry our office with us (Laptops, Mobile Phones, and Organizers). The only certainty is change!
Over 80% of today’s Kindergarten students will be self employed. They will need a different set of skills to survive their working lives. These include:
Independence, self-motivation, self-learning, self-assessing, goal setting, good time management, stress management, teamwork, self-marketing, presentation-making, financial management, negotiating skills, contemporary communication skills, entrepreneurial-ism, flexibility, resourcefulness, adaptability, networking ability, optimism, observation skills and spirituality.
Observation skills can be developed using visuals or photos
Have the child look at a photo, then cover it and ask them questions about what was in the photo. This helps develop observation skills which enhance mindfulness and make them more employable and safe as they are more aware of their immediate environment. The modern workplace really requires people to notice. The Boys Forward Institute has developed a Photo Pack which is used for this – making use of digital images which can be projected onto a screen or computer and blanked out when needed. The Photo Pack also contains images of 30 famous Australians and 30 famous landmarks which are progressively uncovered to help develop someone’s risk-taking ability in a structured environment. The Photo Pack can be ordered from the Boys Forward web store for $33.
Spirituality is another area that is mentioned in recent research into wellbeing, mindfulness and general happiness
It is not about any religious group or church – the modern definition is much broader.
“It includes wonder, awe, listening with the heart, respect and reverence, the spirit of relationships, contemplation, calmness, stillness, quiet, tenderness, gratitude, simplicity, lightness and laughter.”
– M. Dent
I always recommend movies that boys should watch to broaden their idea of masculinity and help them reflect. They can also be used to improve spirituality and are listed below:
- E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
- Finding Neverland
- October Sky
- Harry Potter Series
- Mr Holland’s Opus
- Emperors Club
- The Way Way Back
- Mrs Doubtfire
- The Karate Kid Series
- Superman 1-4
- Searching for Bobby Fischer
- Stand By Me
- We Bought a Zoo
- About a Boy
- Billy Elliot
- The Secret Garden
- Finding Forrester
Today’s classrooms and NAPLAN obsession don’t really address these skills
We need to ensure that our children get them through interaction at home, at play, through sport and clubs and in their daily interaction with adults and peers at school and at home.
They will also need to be resilient when things and circumstances change for them. Some crucial resilience factors to consider are:
- A sense of humor
- A healthy level of detachment
- One person who cared and believed in them
- Being bonded to others
- Having life skills
- Having care and support
- Having high and positive expectations
- Participating and being involved
- Reading fiction
Girls often read fiction but most boys would rather watch fiction. Watching fiction doesn’t help their resilience – reading it does.
Our children need to consciously be aware of their strengths and qualities – what they do well and what virtues they possess. When praising our kids we should be specific and use a virtue where possible so that they become an integral part of their character and can surface when they are applying for work and in their everyday relationships with other people.
Use these virtues (the 52 of them are listed below) when praising our kids but ensure we don’t give them false praise – only praise something which is genuinely praiseworthy or it loses its effectiveness.
Assertiveness, Caring, Cleanliness, Compassion, Confidence, Consideration, Courage, Courtesy, Creativity, Detachment, Determination, Enthusiasm, Excellence, Faithfulness, Flexibility, Forgiveness, Friendliness, Generosity, Gentleness, Helpfulness, Honesty, Honour, Humility, Idealism, Joyfulness, Justice, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Mercy, Moderation, Modesty, Obedience, Orderliness, Patience, Peacefulness, Prayerfulness, Purposefulness, Reliability, Respect, Responsibility, Reverence, Self-Discipline, Service, Steadfastness, Tact, Thankfulness, Tolerance, Trust, Trustworthiness, Truthfulness and Unity.
The 21st Century workplace is very different to the workplace of our fathers and grandfathers where brawn (strength) assured men of a job. Then we moved into the age of where brains (intelligence) assured men of a job and now it’s something less tangible – maybe tech-savvy and also a smattering of those 21st Century skills listed in this article.
Current Boys Forward seminars always cover the issues above. This is a crucial topic to address in our classrooms, workplaces and homes.