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Tips for Managing Your Child’s Future

February, 2010
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Every parent wonders what their child will become when they are grown up. Parents want their children to be happy and successful members of society. These goals are incorporated into most school mission statements. But how do we get our children there? How can we as parents, with what we have learned in the past, plan for our children’s futures in a world that will be vastly different from our own?
One generation ago this questions didn’t have to be asked. The world was still relatively constant. If you got a college education you were in the privileged 20% of the educated in the developed world. Within one generation the industrialized nations became service economies and the lands of cheap labor became the industrialized nations. The certitudes of the past are now the dilemmas of parents and students today. Where will the good jobs be tomorrow and how can parents plan their child’s education so their offspring will get one?
The Not-So-Brave New World
The radical change from production based economies to service economies requires different knowledge and skill bases. There is a lot of talk about “crises in education”. However the crisis is not in education but in the shift in the values of society. The traditional way of making a profit had been by providing value through goods and services. This gave way to profit made by outsourcing as industrialists became importers and lawyers, consultants and MBA’s joined forces for the purpose of dismembering productive enterprises and selling the parts off as scrap. An individual’s contribution was shortened to “con”. This was the great divide that turned the wealthy into the super wealthy and resulted in a 25% decline over the past 30 years in the average western worker’s purchasing power. It became clear to students and their families that there would be no “American Dream” or dream in any other country unless you were on the top half of an ever narrowing corporate pyramid. Education systems, like most big institutions are slow to change. Now, there is a fundamental debate going on in schools from primary to post graduate as to what is their mandate. Is it to foster an environment in which the student can question and discover the world and himself “a la Socrates” or is it to train students to serve the needs of the corporations? As parents, of course we want our children to be happy…but we also want to be sure they can get a job. 
Education Expectations as Influenced by Culture
Different cultures look on their children’s future in different ways. Most western parents feel once their children are 18 they are on their own. If she wants to go to college they might help her or co-sign for the student loan. Of course most western parents will be there to give emotional support and temporary ( and often refundable) bridge financing but the bridge better be going somewhere! future-1s1Asian parents on the other hand have 5000 years of Confucian tradition to support their role as a guide to their children even into adulthood. In return for parents’ love and maintenance the child as an adult has a strong moral obligation to provide for parents, grandparents and younger siblings. Failure to execute this obligation incurs social sanctions that can result in the unfilial child being excommunicated by the larger family and severing his guanxi in the community. These different views on the social responsibility of the child have in the past polarized parents in international schools with each group pressuring school administrators to choose curriculums and teachers that will give their child what the parents believe their children need. In the competitive (and lucrative) international school market the goal of education is set by the parents. Schools try to implement programs that will attract and satisfy parents. With globalization, the financial meltdown and the greater discrepancies in salary as one move up the corporate ladder, cultural differences and expectations are becoming blurred.
Making the Big Bucks
So what are employers willing to pay top dollar for? There is one common path to the six figure income in most developed countries that does not require the student to have exceptional intellectual ability as George W. Bush, a Yale graduate, has proven. It is to be a graduate of a prestigious university. This is true in Asia and Europe as well as the United States. The same degree from an Ivy League school as compared to a state university will add $30,000 or more to a fresh graduate’s annual starting salary. Apart from an elitist school diploma, what are the qualities employers seek in future managers? The first is interpersonal and communication skills. The second is thinking skills, the abilities to analyze, see relationships and formulate solutions. Curiously there are too few courses that teach the techniques of thinking and creativity yet these are the life skills people and employers need. Learning these skills makes the difference in an accountant who does book keeping and an accountant who advises CFO’s on strategic planning.
future-2sAs Japanese salary men learned, the corporate world no longer places a premium on loyalty and reliability. Instead they expect flexibility and independence. English IS the world language of business. There are enough natives in every country who speak it well so the competitive edge of knowing another language besides your mother tongue has dulled. Even the future of the Chinese character may be in doubt other than for literary purposes. Many of the corporate giants of today will be the Chryslers and Lehman Brothers of tomorrow. The growth will be in smaller, leaner virtual companies that share services through the Internet.. The areas of opportunity will be in health care, the environment, alternative energy, robotics and technology in general. The lines will blur between leisure, education and entertainment as technology unites these markets… The only constant is change. Those who learn to manage it will continue to catch the next wave and ride it to the good life. Those who can’t will be pummeled and bruised at an early age.
Women will have an advantage as historically their survival has depended on the development of communication and information management skills and cooperation. These are the most highly prized managerial qualities for employers. In countries where leaders are perceived as coaches they will thrive. By 2030 all managers will be expected to have a variety of styles that they will adapt to different situations and contexts. Their profile will be one who is knowledgeable, approachable and supportive.
There will be a lot more people like Bill Gates; empowered people who start their own businesses. Look for a divide between the college graduates who become “corporate men” charged with protecting the status quo and the “independents” working together in a lose association to protect themselves from the giants.
So for today start by finding out what your child is good at and develop this. If the natural aptitudes of a child are fostered they will thrive and the child will find their own way with parental support. This is the best way to manage your child’s future. . 
By Patrick Donahue
Contact the author at: Sebalex.x@gmail.com


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  1. February 28th, 2010 at 05:11 | #1

    Raising children so that they will be successful is always a difficult task. One never knows how they will turn out eventually. But one can increase the chances of success by teaching them basic skills very early on. One such skills is financial savvyness. Parents can read children’s books on finance, for example, right when the children are entering Kindergarten. A good resource is Finance for Kidz series. You can find it at finance4kidz.com

    Prakash Dheeriya, PhD
    Father, Author & Professor of Finance
    Finance for Kidz series
    finance4kidz dot com

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