When I grow up . . .

When I grow up
. . . I  want to be an ethical hacker.

We must prepare children for the future world of work, where young people could become ‘urban shepherds’ or ‘robot monitors’, or . . . . ? says Ger Graus.

The future of work

In the UK, this past Autumn Term we have seen the long-awaited return to school after months of lockdown. For some, it was their very first time in our education system. But what many pupils don’t know is that the jobs they will eventually do are not the jobs that exist today.

In fact, according to a report published by Dell Technologies, authored by the Institute For The Future (IFTF) and a panel of 20 tech, business and academic experts from around the world, 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

Maybe these children will lead in roles linked to artificial intelligence and machine-learning and robotics. Or maybe nanotechnology, 3D printing or genetics and biotechnology. Maybe they will continue to care for people or teach children face-to-face, as we have always done. We don’t know for sure, but we do know that rapid technological change is redefining the skills requirements for jobs.

Past and present future jobs

When the question “What do you want to be when you grow up” was asked 12 years ago, “tech” jobs such as meter reader, video store manager, TV repairman, and assembly line worker were well known to primary school age children.

In a rapidly changing economy, those jobs in 12 years’ time will include neuro manager, robot monitors, ethical hacker, blockchain crypto specialist, digital detox therapist, cultured meat farmers, urban shepherd, microbial balancer and autonomous vehicle designer.

Many of these roles will require individuals to learn as they go, within emerging fields and often very little pre-training

Many of these roles will require individuals to learn as they go, within emerging fields and often very little pre-training. Adopting a “new mindset” will be crucial, as will the resilience to perform many roles at once; part junior economist, part developer, part data geek and an auditor, for example. The ability to embrace continuous, rapid change will no longer be desirable – it will become essential.

Personal growth

This is just one of the reasons why prioritising personal growth needs to be as important as academic attainment in preparing children for the future world and work. Developing “new world” and enhancing “old world” skills that equip children with the emotional intelligence to advance will be vital.

Communication, collaboration, creativity, reflection, leadership, problem solving, adaptability, resilience, empathy and an entrepreneurial spirit should all be top of the curriculum.

We need to inspire our global citizens of the future to explore a world of opportunity and broaden their horizons; to find out what is possible. By allowing children to role play different jobs in realistic settings – independently of adults – we open children’s eyes to the future world of work by equipping them with the skills, knowledge and emotional intelligence they need.


Prof Dr Ger Graus OBE is the Global Director of Education for KidZania, and a Visiting Professor at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) Institute of Education in Moscow.





Feature Image by skalekar1992 from Pixabay

Photograph courtesy of KidZania London