Nov 7

What Our Kids Need To Learn Beyond School

This article was inspired by the McKinsey Global Institute research which looked into core competencies to thrive in the future world of work. And while schools do their best teaching the academics to our children, these are great insights into what we as parents can do to prepare our children for future employment.


In simple terms, the research found 4 domains and 56 related skills which are associated with likelihood of employment, job satisfaction and incomes: cognitive (critical thinking, communication, planning and ways of working, mental flexibility), interpersonal (mobilising systems, developing relationships, teamwork effectiveness), self-leadership (self awareness and self management, entrepreneurship and goals achievement), digital (digital fluency and citizenship, software use and development, understanding digital systems).

Interestingly, the definition of “skills” is referred to as “deltas” since it includes not only competences, but also attitudes, such as “adaptability” and “coping with uncertainly” which are formed from a young age at home, in the classroom and beyond. This is why the findings are quite relevant for parents who are switched on using formative years to equip their children with valuable life skills and complement school learning with future-proof education.

With the labour market becoming more automated, digital and dynamic, the research states that demand for technological, social and emotional, and higher cognitive skills will grow.

How parents can prepare children for the future

The trend of rapid adoption of artificial intelligence coupled with the fact that 65% of today’s primary school students will work in jobs that are not yet created, clearly shows that our children need a new set of skills to embrace new opportunities and face new challenges the future will bring. And while some areas, such as digital proficiency, may not be something most parents will feel comfortable to teach their kids by themselves, there are many skills that parents can foster by using real life examples.

One of the findings particularly grabbed my attention. It is critical thinking which includes the following areas:

  • Structured problem solving
  • Logical reasoning
  • Understanding biases
  • Seeking relevant information.

Critical thinking is recognised by many parents as a vital skill for their kids to learn. It may be a good idea reinforce or teach children to think critically using everyday examples, such as shopping, reading mail, assessing advertisements, etc. Clearly, this skill is based on the knowledge. And it is important to note that knowledge does not equal information.

Clearly, this skill is based on the knowledge. And it is important to note that knowledge does not equal information.

As a building block, knowledge means critical assessment, verification and application of the data in different contexts to create more complex knowledge. In contrast, information is a broader term which may include research findings or a location of the nearest florist.

And as simple as it may sound, reading is one of the best ways to help children build knowledge. For parents of elder children, it is all about conscious reading, questioning and cross-checking information from different trusted and reputable sources. For younger students, it is about creating the habits of slow reading and making positive associations with reading as a leisure activity.

Earlier, we’ve discussed how parents can help children develop an entrepreneurial mindset which involves being creative, curious and thinking outside of the box with simple tips to encourage kids think like entrepreneurs.

These are other important skills that contribute to the future employment success found by the McKinsey research:

·         Win-win negotiations

·         Agile thinking

·         Self-confidence

·         Ownership and decisiveness

·         Coping with uncertainty

Finally, the publication concludes with the statement that forming attitudes and skills begins before a child starts school. Thus, children will benefit from earlier education around some of these areas. What that means is that we as parents should consider introducing our children to the new way of thinking that will benefit them well before they hit the employable age.

The research refered to in this article was performed in 2021 by the McKinsey Global Institute (
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