Our children are heading into an unknown future. Many jobs that exist now didn?t ten years ago; and many jobs that existed ten years ago don?t exist now ? when was the last time you needed a video library, film developer, data entry clerk, typist or phone booth technician? Likewise, ten years ago we didn?t need social media managers, podcast producers, app developers or Uber drivers, yet these are all popular jobs now.
It?s a changing world and always has been. Well before milkmen and town-criers lost their jobs, we worked differently. Well before blacksmiths, seamstresses and weavers lost their work-from-home livelihoods, we worked differently. The concept of commuting into a modern office only began after the Industrial Revolution pulled us away from our homes and into factories. Post-World War II, many newly jobless women re-invented the concept of work-from-home with their multi-level marketing Tupperware schemes. Now ?telecommuting? is hip in the knowledge economy and our working landscape is changing once more. So how do we counsel our children about their future career choices?
One solution is to focus not on job-type but on building their creative skills, so they?re able to adapt as the working landscape changes again and again within their own lifetimes.
Creative children have unlimited potential, says Service NSW on their Creative Kids program webpage, a program that offers free $100 creative vouchers per calendar year to each school-enrolled child. Creativity is cited as a ?renewable skill? that ?stretches their flexibility?, honing communication and decision-making skills. Creativity is ?crucial for raising the next generation of innovators whose mindset and problem-solving skills will solve today?s (and tomorrow?s) greatest challenges. Best of all it?s an activity that will bring your child joy.? Providers accepting the free vouchers can be found by activity-type or postcode over here.
As an author myself, I couldn?t agree more. Creatives are also in the ?top ten in-demand jobs for the future? according to monster.co.uk, along with skilled tradespeople, engineers, nurses and teachers.
ABC Australia agrees too. In a recent video promoting creativity, their narrator states ?we don?t all have the skills to write a symphony? but we all have the capacity for creative thinking, and like a muscle it can be exercised.? Children can easily deduce the word ?creativity? from kri-ei-tiviti because they don?t have the ?burden of wisdom? that gives adults ?functional fixedness?, which prevents them from solving problems in a creative way. However, it?s a skill that can be nurtured and developed, as long as we first accept it?s a skill that needs development. Just like soccer and ballet, we can?t expect to walk onto a pitch or stage and perform well without practice.
Research has also shown that creativity has positive effects on children?s interpersonal, intellectual, social and emotional development, as well as their sense of belonging. No matter what our age, creative activities encourage self-expression, help us acknowledge and celebrate uniqueness and diversity, and get us thinking out-of-the-box. It?s for these reasons many local governments are strategizing for a more creative future, to generate more resilient communities.
?The arts are an essential public good,? says the 2014 publication ?The Arts Ripple Effect? (by Castanet with the support of Arts Victoria and the Australia Council for the Arts), ?that create a ripple effect of benefits felt throughout our community. They provide a unique expression of what it means to be human, that is fundamental to our nature and affects us all? the arts can make a vital contribution to our wellbeing.?
Likewise, one of the NSW Government?s key planning priorities is ?fostering healthy, creative, culturally rich and socially connected communities? (North District Plan, Planning Priority 4); and the Northern Beaches Council wants to help young people ?actively engage and use creativity to shape the future of our community? (Draft Arts and Creativity Strategy 2018). Cultural activity contributed $50 billion to Australia?s GDP in 2015 (Australia Council for the Arts (2015), Arts Nation: An Overview of Australian Arts), and it?s on the rise.
So if you?re a parent like me, and you?d like to help your child help themselves in the future, seriously consider getting them more creative. Better yet, why not get creative yourself as a good role model for them? There are creative opportunities everywhere. All you have to do is look.
Zena Shapter is an Inclusive Creativity Advocate on Sydney?s Northern Beaches, a Service NSW Creative Kids Provider, and award-winning author. She mentors, teaches and edits writers of all ages from beginners to advanced, one-on-one or in groups, is a short story judge, book creator, creative writing workshop presenter, and HSC English tutor. She has spoken on council-led panels about the importance of creativity, and even offers creative writing sessions in school holidays. Find her online at zenashapter.com