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The Importance of Teaching Your Kids Job Skills
As parents, we want our children to be happy, fulfilled, and thriving when they are older- not living in our basements and unable to find employment. Sure, there will be times when our kids need a little extra help, but there are a few things we can do now to set our kids up for success later in life.
One way we can make a bright future a reality is by teaching our kids job skills so they can be employable and handle adversity along the way.
Reasons Why Kids Need Job Skills
Unfortunately, there are a wide variety of misconceptions about our children’s generation and their work ethic. If you ask employers, many admit to noticing a shift in today’s younger workforce. They either complain that young hires aren’t equipped with necessary skill sets, act entitled, or don’t have the social skills to perform in the job environment.
In fact, a recent survey found that 77 percent of workers have experienced childish behaviors from fellow employees in the workforce, which only cements this generation’s poor reputation.
Schools today focus more on traditional skills, such as writing, arithmetic and science, to prepare our boys and girls for future endeavors. While these skills are needed to succeed, research and employers are finding our kids also need “soft” skills, or job-readiness skills. These job skills can’t be learned from reading a book, they are learned from experience.
The job skills employers look for are motivation, confidence, flexibility, teamwork, negotiation, respect, responsibility, grit, and more. Simply understanding and knowing how to develop and use these life skills can make all the difference between our kids thriving or failing.
6 Ways to Encourage Job Skills in Children and Teens
From being polite to knowing the basics of professionalism, jobs require a diverse set of character skills and just getting good grades in school won’t be enough to prepare our boys and girls for the demands of their first jobs. Like any new skill, practice makes perfect and experts recommend teaching our kids to think long-term and run their careers like a business while thinking like an entrepreneur. They need to be mindful and aware of their surroundings, adjusting to the workplace, real world, and their talents.
Listed below are just a few job skills kids need to know:
1. Digital citizenship
Technology is quickly changing the way we communicate and interact. Our kids are digital natives, but that doesn’t mean they understand or have proper digital etiquette. Employers have been known to review social media and online activity before hiring a person. Children and teens need to know the appropriate ways to behave online and regularly review the images, posts, text, and shares within their digital footprint so there is no embarrassing or offensive material that will damage their job prospects.
2. Communication and interview skills
Kids need basic life skills that cover how to sit properly, shake hands, power down devices when talking to someone, maintaining eye contact, speak clearly, and even ways to answer questions. Regularly practice speaking and host fake interviews. Ask common questions that require a child to speak about their strengths and positive attributes.
Kids are born with numerous innate abilities, but they don’t come preprogrammed with manners and skills for behaving politely. This requires us to teach our little ones basic etiquette so they can succeed in any social situation and in any job. Teach children how to greet people, hold eye contact, say “please” and “thank you”, chew with their mouth closed, be on time, take responsibility for their actions, and be truthful. While fads may come and go, being polite, courteous, and thoughtful will never go out of style.
4. Soft skills
Review the following job-readiness skills: communication, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, time management, respect, interviews, responsibility, listening, confidence, networking, stress management, presentation skills, and patience. Explain, discuss, and even model why these skills are important. A fun activity to foster these skills is to provide or act out “bad examples” of these skills. Then, discuss why that behavior wasn’t appropriate. Kids will enjoy the laughs and it will help them gain a better understanding of what not to do in a job.
5. Handling money
Many of our kids’ first jobs will involve handling money. Teach them the proper way to count change and do basic money math so they will be able to work efficiently without a calculator or cash register. It is far too common to find people who can’t work out change and this represents a much larger issue of innumeracy, or basically math illiterate. This skill really goes beyond employment, it’s a life skill. If a child can’t easy do basic money calculations in their head, they are far more vulnerable to scams and making simple errors that can be costly in the long run. Calculating change is a first step in financial literacy.
6. Perseverance and grit
Kids will encounter adversity at some point in their lives. Instead of allowing them to give up, help them find ways to persevere and grow as a person. While it is hard to step back and not do a task for a struggling child, we need to resist the temptation to intervene so that you don't undermine a child's confidence and prevent them from learning along the way. We don’t have to abandon our kids, but we can stand by and coach them with appropriate suggestions and wisdom. If needed, use examples of famous people that didn’t succeed on the first try: Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, The Beatles, and so on for added encouragement to keep trying.
If you are still on the fence about teaching kids job skills, think about the startling fact that 85 percent of the jobs that will be around in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. That number is a little mind-boggling, especially when we stop and think that this will be a reality right around the time our boys and girls will be entering the workforce full time. We need to think ahead and make sure they possess basic social and work skills so they can adapt to the changing job markets and future.
Teaching our children job skills today will ensure that they have a good employment experiences tomorrow. Our boys and girls will have the knowledge to speak up for themselves, communicate ideas, be respectful, get along well with other people, and be responsible for their actions. With a little guidance, we can give our kids the job skills they will need so they can have the character and know how to handle the work environment, have positive experiences, and be able to succeed when faced with adversity.
Why do you think it’s important to teach your kids job skills?
About the Author
Nick Rojas combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small to medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media for the aspiring entrepreneur.