Monday, 26 February 2018
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February 2018

The Future Of Work

William Thompson, Head of Consumer Banking NI Bank of Ireland UK, explains why keeping up with the pace of change is a huge challenge for everyone but especially for parents, like him, who want to guide and prepare our children for a digital world…

We live in a world of rapid change where the advance and impact of technology is felt daily in our homes and our workplaces. I read recently that 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet! It is a future that is hard for us to imagine, never mind our young people.
This revolutionary change is already underway.

According to the NI Skills Barometer, traditional careers such as medicine, law and teaching are already oversubscribed, while those in computer science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are undersupplied, quite significantly. Time and again we hear in the news from key players in industry and business that the skills they are looking for are changing. In-demand skills such as self-awareness, the ability to learn, a bias towards action and the ability to come up with ideas are where we need to focus our children’s development.

As parents we all need to take on board the fact that these trends will only accelerate as digital transformation becomes the norm. STEM is so much more than Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – it’s also about solving problems, asking questions and exploring the way things work. As parents, we can nurture these skills in our children and communicate early STEM concepts through play. Talking about how things work, being curious and talking about the world around us, are all ways that we can help them to develop.

For older children, engage them in tasks at home to boost their creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Ask them to measure ingredients when cooking and involve them in gardening or repairing broken items – these are all ways that we can ignite their curiosity.

Ensure that they have science and technology books to read. I have been recommended ‘The Official BBC micro:bit User Guide’ by Gareth Halfacree which is a pocket-sized electronic development platform, created by the BBC in partnership with major tech companies, communities and educational organisations and provides children with a fun, practical and inexpensive way to develop their digital skills. The BBC also offers dozens of shows which children will love, such as Absolute Genius: Monster Builds, Spring Watch and All Over The Workplace.

The more fun we can make STEM then the easier it will be for children to engage with it. For family days out we’re spoiled for choice with Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, W5 at The SSE Arena and The Armagh Planetarium to name just a few.

Future18 is a teen-led tech event for 13-18 year olds interested in technology, design and entrepreneurship. It’s a one day hackathon aiming to inspire Northern Ireland’s young people to get more involved in the tech industry. Teenagers are invited to go to Titanic Belfast on March 10 to learn how to build apps and win £2,000 of prizes. More information and tickets are available from

Bank of Ireland UK is also helping to prepare young people for the digital world. We have joined forces with several leading organisations and companies at the cutting edge of technology, such as MakeMatic, to bring valuable free resources into schools through our Innovation Matters programme that will help to develop and nurture vital skills for our children’s future and the future prosperity of Northern Ireland.

It also includes exciting and creative initiatives such as Junk Kouture Fashion and Arts Competition, Generation Innovation and Finance Field Trips. Find out more at or mention it to your child’s teacher!

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