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One Trait Every Kid Needs to Succeed in the Future

Did you catch the news? Google is on a tour. No, not a tour to find a new city to establish a new headquarters. It’s a “Grow with Google Tour” to help people prepare for and find jobs in the future. It’s not just a PR tour, either, although I am sure this effort will not look bad on social media. They are going to city after city, spending a billion dollars (that’s billion with a B), using web-based technology to train and re-train folks for the jobs that will exist—and will be quite different—in thirteen years.

Wow. A billion dollars.

Google CEO Sundar Piachai said, “The nature of work is fundamentally changing. And that is shifting the link between education, training and opportunity. One-third of jobs in 2020 will require skills that aren’t common today. It’s a big problem.”

Piachai is investing today to be ready for the future. The tour started in Pittsburgh, then it moves on to Indianapolis in November. One thousand Google employees will be available for career coaching, donating a million hours in an effort to help people access an on-line program to help Americans secure the skills they’ll need to get a job or to grow their business . . . for tomorrow.

Do you ever think about this?

Have you ever considered that the kids you gave birth to; the students you teach; the athletes you coach; the young professionals you employ may be working a job in ten years that doesn’t even exist today?

What Should We Do?

I recently enjoyed lunch with my good friend Rich Katt. Rich heads up Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the Nebraska Department of Education. He introduced me to the work of Josh Davies, the CEO of the Center for Work Ethic Development. Josh lives in Colorado and works with employers all over the country. When he asked a thousand employers to list work traits they’re interested in, the top six were:

  • Attitude
  • Education
  • Specific skills
  • Job experience
  • Work ethic
  • Work history

Do you know what the least important trait from this list was? It was education. Do you know what the most important trait was? It was work ethic, which was followed by attitude. Pardon me, but aren’t those soft skills, not hard skills?

Sadly, only 15 percent of those managers say the workers they hire (not the ones they merely interview) have the work ethic needed to flourish on the job. According to Mr. Davies, just 16 percent of the young job candidates believe it’s important to demonstrate they have a good work ethic at the job interview. What? I’m not joking. We have a gap between adults and our young. The good news is, we have an opportunity to bridge that gap.

An Exercise

Think for a moment about the year 2030. It seems like a long way off, but actually, middle school students today will be in their twenties—hunting for jobs at that point. It is just thirteen years away. To help you imagine, just look backward thirteen years to 2004. Can you remember how life and work looked back then?

  • Facebook had just become available for public access.
  • Brick and mortar retail stores were still the top place for purchases.
  • There were no smart phones or devices.
  • There were no social media apps, like Instagram or Snapchat.
  • Most people were still hesitant to buy anything on-line.

Wow. The times are changing, aren’t they?

In the next 13 years, we’ll be moving into a day of automation, artificial intelligence, and a time where robots and computers do more than half of what people do now. I’m not so sure we can even know just how to prepare today’s students for such a world, since innovators are only experimenting with the technology at this point. I suppose we’ll need to consult with folks in the “Grow with Google Tour” for those answers.

But one thing I know for sure.

Strong work ethic will always be in vogue. As an employer myself, I will always hire a team member with a strong work ethic over a worker without one. I’ll always hire a person with self-discipline over a person without it. I’ll always hire a person with a passionate attitude for our mission vs. a person without it. Grit will always be great.

Work ethic supplies a person with a tenacity they’ll need to complete a not-so-glitzy task. It provides a worker with a sense of responsibility they need to feel a sense of “ownership” on the job, serving over and above what the job description demanded. Work ethic offers the energy needed to finish what we start, just because it needs to be done, not because we want to post a pic on Instagram.

Let’s cultivate this trait in our students, knowing it’s never going out of style.


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