Preparing our children for the changing nature of work—it’s gigs not jobs in the 21st century

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life — Unknown

Freelancing is the new gold, jobs are so old school! In 2018, a lot more people are making steady income from gigs. It is clear from this trend that it is more valuable to invest more in human capital development to remain competitive in the global economy. The way we view jobs has been radically changed.


This news is welcome to a lot of people who desire to be free from being fixed in an office space, this new frontier of freelancing offers a lot. It is scary for some people also; their safety nets have been their regular jobs. The key thing is having the necessary skillset.


I didn’t understand how big this change was until I noticed the shift among millennials from going after 9 to 5 jobs but focusing on what they term hustling in Nigeria, which means that they have side jobs (gigs) that they work on for extra income and how dependent they are on these.


It’s gotten to the point where more businesses in Nigeria and across Africa give their employees the opportunity to work from whatever location is desirable for them. These flexible work arrangements have been facilitated by technology making communication easier via messenger services where chat, voice and videos are available.

There are less fulltime jobs now, more part time, temp and freelance work is easily procurable. A lot of small business enterprises are fully dependent on flexible workers. Automation of jobs like secretarial work or inventory is on the rise. Highly skilled workers are more in demand than ever though.


Adjusting to these changes will be critical for navigating the future of work.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank consortium is conducting a global survey of organizations, that will roll out in 2019, of forecasts for what skills the future of work will require and how employees can arm themselves consequently.


There are a couple of suggestions culled from research and lessons from findings mulled upon at conferences focused on this issue.

Incorporate unconventional qualifications: More employers are focused upon skills not degrees. This has given way to acceptance of certificates for specific proficiencies. This is a fantastic way for economically disadvantaged people to empower themselves by taking free or cheap courses through lots varying learning programs that take less time to complete, such as online courses, nanodegrees, micro credentials and stackable credentials.

Focus on instilling life long learning: The World Economic Forum has stated that more than two thirds of the children starting school currently will end up working in jobs that don’t exist currently. Lifelong learning  is a necessity for economic survival; one thing that works to the benefit of millennials is that a lot of learning is digital now.

Entrepreneurship education should be embraced: As a freelancer; an element of risk is involved. Teaching our children to have an entrepreneurial mindset should begin early so that they are people who are able to be successful due to learning to manage risks.

Build resilience (grit) Teach grit: Psychologist Angela Duckworth is someone who I admire greatly for her ground-breaking research on teaching grit to children. This has been instrumental to a lot of the work that I do with children focusing on  long term. This is the capacity to stick for a long time to an objective is important in determining being able to thrive in a dynamic global economy.

Focus on STEM skills (21st century skills)-: These skills are an infusion of technical and non technical skills. These skills are problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking as well as numeracy, IT savviness are what the future of work would require.

Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator

She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.

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