It used to be a rite of passage: teenagers passed their summer hours slogging away at a mundane job, like addressing and delivering mail for an office, or manning a register at a local grocery store.
Not only was this an exercise in “character-building” (as I’m sure many of us who are non Gen Z could recall from parental lectures), but these low-skilled jobs offer an opportunity to enter the working world, learn how to apply, interview, and shop up for a job. These jobs equipped us to speak to our managers, manage conflict with peers, and address the general public.
But for most teens today, and the kids coming up behind them, these easy, entry-level jobs will go the way of automation. A 2016 White House study estimated that jobs paying $20 per hour or less have an 83% change of becoming automated in the near future. So how can we prepare today’s teens to step into the careers of the future, when we may not be sure what those careers will entail? By investing in core skills and appreciating industries outside of just the most glamorous roles, we equip more teens and children to enjoy prosperous careers.
Providing underprivileged children with access to STEAM education now means exposing them to many opportunities and ways of building and apply skills to widen their perspective.
Strengthening the Core
Core skills lay a foundation for students regardless of which industry or role they will eventually work in. Skills like process optimization, math, and writing add value everywhere. But we’re mindful that it’s not just about knowing how to do math on a worksheet, it’s about understanding how to apply maths and think creatively, which is why Education Unbound is selective in its partners to build up STEAM in education.
Our global workforce also demands skills like multiculturalism and the ability to use the Internet for research.
While folding these skills into education is one step, we can also encourage teens to think out of the box for those very first jobs. ThinkGrowth suggests these entry-level jobs to build a core foundation in teens:
· Factory work or fast food experience to understand process optimization
· Tutoring, supporting bookkeeping, data entry or working as a server in a
restaurant can boost math skills
· Seeking internships with local media can allows students to try their hand at content marketing, writing for social media, copyediting, proofreading, or maybe writing full articles or posts
· Working in the tourism sector, at a hotel, on a cruise ship, or in an airport can equip teens with the ability to meet and work with people from around the globe
· Fact checking or research jobs can strengthen Internet research skills
Looking Beyond the Glitz and Glam: Finding the Value in Every Sector
We talk a lot about skill gaps in tech and the value of knowing how to code. And while both of those are true things, teaching every student how to code isn’t going to guarantee every student is gainfully employed as an adult.
Providing underprivileged children with access to STEAM education now means exposing them to many opportunities and ways of building and apply skills to widen their perspective. Realistically, not everyone is going to be great at writing code, no matter how much demand in the sector spikes. And so, we must think more broadly.
For example, Ph.D. candidate Shirley Jackson argues in The Conversation, we could excite teens and children about the many opportunities in aged care or child care, both of which have ample use cases for STEAM skills and can provide quality work. Anyone who has scoured the internet for daycares or noticed how large the now-retiring Boomer population can attest, both of the sectors are also likely to grow, though perhaps they are making fewer headlines.
In the US last year, the industries topping the charts for job openings were Education and health service, Professional and business services, financial activities, Mining and logging, and Government, according to a CBS News infographic.
Help us grow a love for STEAM early in children’s education, and equip our future workforce with a diverse STEAM background that will enable them to enjoy rich professional (and resulting personal) lives as a result.
Learn how you can come alongside Education Unbound to support STEM in education today by visiting http://www.educationunbound.org/programs.