What’s a Parent to Do?

by Terry Whipple - Executive Director of the Juneau County Development Corp.

As a parent myself, I understand how difficult it can be directing

your child into a career path in which they will enjoy and prosper.

We now live in a world where knowledge is doubling daily

and disruptive technologies and ideas abound. By disruptive technology

and ideas, I don’t mean something necessarily bad but am

talking about new technologies that can make others obsolete very

quickly or ideas that can cause careers to end very quickly. Think

of what the smartphone did to the camera or video industry and

what the Cloud is doing for computer hard drives. And as far as

ideas go, consider that the world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no

cars and the world’s most popular media company, Facebook, creates

no content.

I have followed a number of studies claiming that Artificial Intelligence

and Automation will replace 25% to 50% of the current

jobs within the next 20 years. This may sound extreme to

many but it has been happening on a linear time scale that is...up

until now. We may be at the point where technology, geopolitical

challenges, demographics, workforce issues and economic instability

force a much faster change upon us than we ever thought


Until recently in Australia, driving large trucks from the mine

to the smelter was a top paying job. It provided over 6 figure incomes

to many drivers because of the adverse conditions. All of

them have now been replaced by trucks that drive themselves.

There are models already completed for automated restaurants

and believe me, my kids have no problem walking up to a funky

wall of pictures and punching the happy meal, no pickles, well

done, extra fries and out it pops in less than a minute…and

nobody spit on it.

So back to “What’s a parent to do?” Well, we do know that our

children will have to become lifelong learners and at times, they

just may have to create their own future and career, possibly as an

entrepreneur. This is one of the reasons why Juneau County Economic

Development Corp. (JCEDC) partnered with some exceptional

and visionary teachers of the Mauston School District to

develop iLEAD, an Entrepreneurship/Leadership Charter school.

These students are learning to manage their own education while

under the close supervision of the teachers, or life coaches as we

like to call them. These students have skin in the game, so to

speak. They find, qualify and disseminate knowledge for use in

their chosen projects. At the same time, all necessary curriculums

are melded into their activities by the teachers. Topping it off, the

students practice daily, emulating the character traits that have

been identified in successful people. I guess it's a lot like teaching

them to fish instead of giving them fish… once they learn,

they feed themselves.

As far as I know, JCEDC is the first Economic Development organization

in the state to make education of our youth a significant

part of its strategic plan. JCEDC also supports the efforts of the

Mauston Montessori Charter School and Project Lead the Way in