Tomorrow won’t look like today

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Peer into the future, and hold on tight.

What do you see?

Bill Gates, who’s had a pretty keen eye to the telescope for years, envisions 65 percent of today’s kids working in jobs that don’t even exist now.

Just for the heck of it, we toured the internet looking for what great minds — and maybe some that aren’t so great — see way down the workforce superhighway.

Maybe your son will become a crowdfunding specialist or a cryptocurrency banker. Your granddaughter might have the makings of a superb productivity counselor or personal digital curator. Urban shepherds, microbial balancers and curiosity tutors could be in great demand. And George Orwell and Ray Bradbury might have towering monuments built to their likenesses.

But we digress. The question is, how do the employees of tomorrow prepare today, knowing that many of the jobs — the good jobs, anyway — will require training that hasn’t even been conceived yet? Think about it: The world might desperately need digital detox therapists, counselors who specialize in separating technology-stressed individuals from their devices. How are our kids and grandkids going to learn to help people deal with the digital DTs?

As our two-part series today and tomorrow will emphasize, one of the keys is to load up the tool box rather than focus on one skill or specialty. Future workers — heck, many workers today — need to develop multiple marketable skills, because in many cases they’re going to be fending for themselves. The days of graduating college and starting off at the bottom of a corporate ladder before climbing slowly but steadily for two or three decades are either dead or dying. Benefits cost companies too much. Loyalty is vanishing on the parts of both employer and employee. Gunslingers for hire, figuratively speaking, of course, look like they’re going to be in great demand. The guy who does the same thing day after day, year after year, with maybe a webinar or an offsite workshop to sharpen the tool every once in awhile, is going the way of dodo birds and effective politicians.

On the other hand, even today’s employers are forced to pay handsomely for workers who don’t grow on trees. The future’s forest of productivity will depend on the men and women with hefty tool boxes and reward them generously, not because they’ll want to but because they’ll have to.

Then where does today’s education model fit in? If Idaho is truly to move at the speed of business, how will four years of high school followed by four years of college prepare our kids and grandkids? The short answer is that they won’t: Those eight-year educational tracks are going to lead to points well short of or off target from where new jobs will be popping up and possibly disappearing nearly as quickly, some experts believe.

Join us today and tomorrow as we explore some of the burning questions and possible answers.

Just fasten your seat belt.

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