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Parents working in tech are optimistic about future job prospects of children but have concerns over education

Parents working in the technology industry remain optimistic about future job opportunities despite predictions automation could affect the market

The majority of parents working for technology companies remain optimistic about the future tech job prospects of their children – but believe more can be done to improve education, according to a new study.

The study by trade association Tech UK, which represents more than 900 tech companies in the industry, found that 90% of respondents believed automation and new technologies would have either a positive or neutral impact on the availability of quality jobs.

This optimism comes despite reports claiming the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution could stifle the job market.

Tech UK’s CEO Julian David said: “As a leader in tech innovation, the UK is well placed to take advantage of new technology.

“Tech parents are confident that their children will have good opportunities for interesting and rewarding work as the economy becomes ever more digital.

“But they are also very clear that having the right skills will be key.”

Research on future tech job prospects

Research from the Bank of England estimates that as many as 15 million jobs could be lost to automation in the UK, while the think-tank Centre for Social Justice predicts that as many as 2.25 million retail jobs and 1.22 million manufacturing jobs are at risk.

Despite the negative outlook, only 16% of the parents questioned reported feeling pessimistic about the future tech job prospects of their children.

Among the respondents, which comprised 100 parents of children under 18 that worked in the tech industry, one commented: “Technology always creates disruption, but the main effect of automation is labour saving.

“We do not miss the mundane jobs of the past – gas-lamp lighters, clothes washers, dish-washers, etc – but welcome the labour saving.”

 

Teaching should focus on ‘soft skills’ to prepare children for future jobs

People questioned for the report were also agreed on the need for change in the education system to make it better suited to the future job market.

The education system needs updating in order to make children adaptable for the jobs of the future
The education system needs updating in order to better prepare children for the jobs of the future

Nine out of ten of respondents believed that their children would have to retrain throughout their lives in order to meet the changing demands of the job market and 67% of parents were already taking this into consideration when making decisions about their children’s education.

According to the study, a stronger focus on soft skills, such as leadership and critical-thinking, is key to making the education system better suited to the changing jobs landscape – with 65% of parents in agreement.

Tech UK recommends changes to the way children are taught and tested in schools in order to encourage creativity, teach soft skills and improve adult education to account for necessary retraining.

Paul Clarke, chief technology officer at online grocery company Ocado, said: “Not only are we completely obsessed with trying to push knowledge into children’s heads, but then rather than find creative ways to assess their ability to harness this information, we instead insist on testing their ability to regurgitate meaningless mark-schemes.”

Parents worried that encouraging creativity, as well as teaching new subjects such as coding, were important but some voiced concerns that less fortunate children, whose schools don’t offer such training, could be left behind, increasing inequality.