The future for Gen Y and Z

How will we prepare the next generation for the workforce?

The top ten jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004 and according to the Wage Point New Age Jobs graphic, 65 percent of today’s kindergarteners will grow up to have jobs that don’t exist today. Thinking of some of the jobs that have developed in the last ten years, there are now social media managers, data miners, app developers and cloud computing technologists. As science and technology advance, so too does the need for skilled jobs in an ever changing job market.

What’s in store for the future? Well, the future is still unpredictable but some of the jobs referred to in Chelsea Varney’s article on Brandwatch are found in the medical and information fields. Jobs like body part engineer, nano-medic and child designer have medical themes. Jobs such as a digital architect and waste data manager involve controlling and processing information. Other potential areas of growth include vertical farming and climate control engineers – futuristic jobs that will help the environment by dealing with climate change and energy resources.

Considering this changing job market, how do we educate youth from Generations Y and Z to be prepared for jobs that don’t even exist? What might they be doing in the year 2030 and what skills can we equip them with to be successful? Does the next generation have the ability to fill those needs?

Gen Y and Z are the most photographed, videoed, informed and technologically savvy generation so far. Having that information and technology at their fingertips will allow them, and they may well demand it, to work what is currently considered non-traditionally. They will work from home, the car or the soccer field, but they will be informed and plugged in at all times.

So what skills will these two generations need? They will need to be flexible and adaptable with such skills as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and entrepreneurism, all of which can be applied across many different career paths. According to a Time article, The Future of Work, the next big thing will come from entrepreneurs that have the skills and ambition to start companies up quickly. Michigan State University Extension 4-H offers programs that can help Gen Y and Z youth build these skills. These resources include the “Be the ‘E’” curriculum that focuses on building entrepreneurial skills and problem solving. Another resource, the “Build Your Future” curriculum, teaches youth how they can turn their passion into profit by using their critical thinking skills and creativity. Youth in this program develop the skills to venture out and create new products and services.

Whatever the future may hold, we want our children prepared with the skills to handle it. MSU Extension is there to help youth build confidence in themselves and a desire to be a part of the future problem solvers.

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