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
possible.
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them have now been replaced by trucks that drive themselves.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
Necedah.