Helping Your Child Understand the World of Work

understanding the world of work
understanding the world of work

Understanding the world of work may seem obvious. Work is an unavoidable part of finding one’s place in society and plays a significant role in shaping people’s level of happiness, be it through employment or self-employment. Considering how technology is redefining work for future generations, it makes it even more crucial for parents to equip their children with relevant skills and familiarize them with the dynamics of the world of work. Often a child’s opinion is based on what they see from you and those around you. In particular the difficulty of a work-life balance.

In this article, we discuss why it’s so important to expose your child to the world of work, how to help your child understand the world of work, and the skills required to better fit into the world of work. The world of work that our children will go into will be very different from what we started in. In particular, the variation and the need to be adaptable.

The Importance of Exposing Your Child to the World of Work

The goal of every parent is to raise their children into competent adults who can successfully integrate themselves into the larger society. To raise such capable children, parents need to help their children understand the world of work early. The other benefit of helping your child understand the world of work is that they will develop skills that employers are looking for. Here are a few reasons to expose your child to the world of work:

  • It gives them valuable early insights. Many children know nothing about the world of work until they’re in their early 20s. By this time, everything is new to them. As a result, they may struggle to adapt. However, exposing the child to the world of work early provides insights that can help them make career choices that fit their personality. This is one of the main benefits of a part-time job, whatever it may be. The demand for reliability and punctuality.
  • You set them up for success. Having a successful career depends on a few variables. Many adults have had to stumble into their careers, stay in jobs that make them miserable, or struggle to fit into the workplace. These things can make your child scared of being an adult. Allowing your child glimpses of what it’s like to exist in the world of work exposes them to the standards earlier. So when it’s their time, they have at least some basic understanding of the demands. This helps minimize the negatives and boost the positives.
  • Schools can’t do it alone. These days, so much is expected of schools when it comes to educating children. Schools are expected to teach numeracy, literacy, STEM, and other digital and transferable skills. But, by developing your child’s knowledge of the world of work, you’re plugging a gap that the school might not fill because there’s too much they already have to do.

How to Better Help Your Child Understand the World of Work

It’s crucial to start developing your child’s understanding of the world of work early. But how early is appropriate? An Employment and Employers Research by the Career Industry Council of Australia suggests that parents can start helping their children understand the world of work as early as age five or even below. Find below some practical steps on how to help your child understand the world of work:

  • Explain why you work. Children are curious and may at some point ask you why you work. When they do, take the time to explain to them in simple terms. Don’t limit your explanation to monetary reasons alone. That would not be doing it justice. Instead, make sure to delve into what your job means to you and why you chose your career. You don’t have to explain all at once, but try to be as honest as you can. Also, even if the child doesn’t ask why you have to work, look for opportunities to explain it. This helps you structure the conversations about money.
  • Discuss work problems appropriately. Many parents put up a wall between their work and their homes. This essentially makes sense because work can easily interfere with the home. However, there are upsides to using work problems to expose your child to the world of work. In those instances, ask the child what they think or would do if they were in your shoes. When you decide on a specific action, explain to the child why you chose this course of action. But make sure not to divulge confidential information.
  • Treat school like a job. Getting your child to treat school like a job is an effective way to demonstrate the dynamics of the world of work to them. Find opportunities to remind the child that the teacher is the “boss.” Their job as a student is to make sure they listen in class, do what the teacher says, and turn in their assignment on time. In particular the importance of being able to work independently.
  • Encourage volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to teach children about responsibility. Being a reliable employee is about being responsible for your tasks, taking the work seriously, and being accountable to your boss. When your child volunteers, they express themself better. Volunteering also teaches leadership skills and encourages cooperation, an essential trait for collaboration in a work environment. 
  • Utilize take-your-kids-to-work days. Take Your Kids to Work Day happens on the fourth Thursday of each April in the US. As the name implies, more than 37 million Americans at over 3.5 million workplaces participate in Take Your Kids to Work Day. “We want the kids, parents, teachers, and workplaces to all help students see the value of their education by linking it to the world of work,” says Carolyn McKecuen, president of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation. “Kids say, ‘I want to be a doctor,’ but they don’t always realize what it takes to get there. This day gives them the opportunity to learn and be exposed to their dream jobs. It teaches them that they have to start working toward that goal now and that getting C’s in school won’t cut it.” Here we also give some guidance about work experience.

Skills Your Child Needs to Survive the Changing World of Work

In recent times, employers have been pointing out that many employees lack the necessary skills to perform in the work environment. A survey by CareerBuilder found that 77% of workers have experienced some form of childish behavior in the workplace. Below are some necessary skills your child needs to survive the changing world of work.

  • Digital citizenship and etiquette. In today’s interconnected world, much of everything is done online. As a result, your child needs to know how to conduct themself in such a digital world. Adults have lost their jobs for their inability to show proper conduct online. Ensure your child has sufficient digital skills, etiquette, and exposure to do their job without breaches or wrongdoing. In particular the importance of clean social media.
  • Digital entrepreneurship and creativity. In this digital age, you’d struggle to find a serious company that doesn’t have an online presence in this digital age. Software, goods and services are marketed to people online. Understanding the digital ecosystem and using digital tools to create is an outstanding skill to have. Employers are always looking out for commercially aware individuals. Not all schools are able to deliver a meaningful STEM education due to it’s rapidly changing nature. There are a several simple programming games you can introduce to your child to get them ahead of the game.
  • Soft skills. In the past two decades, soft skills have become a prerequisite for hiring. Hiring managers want to know that candidates can collaborate, solve problems, manage their time, and effectively do their job without constant supervision. Some soft skills to teach your child include communication, teamwork, critical thinking, collaboration, listening, time management, responsibility, etc. 

Final Thoughts on Helping Your Child Understand the World of Work

Work can often be the unknown that parents go and do when the child is at school. It is hard for children of any age to picture life outside of what they know. Therefore it is important to let them see and understand what you do and why. Also to see what other careers, and lifestyles, are. One of the ways technology changed the future of work is through automation. Many routine tasks and cognitive skills have become automated, putting people who specialize in these areas out of work. This makes it even more crucial for parents to familiarize their children with the world of work to enable them to make more informed career decisions.