23rd August, 2018

Why entrepreneurship begins at home

With an uncertain work future, it’s hard to know how best to equip your child for what’s ahead. One strategy’s to simply get out of the way.

Taj Pabari, a serial entrepreneur at the ripe age of 18, says he could experiment and take his first steps in the tech world because of his parents’ encouragement – or at least because they allowed him to do so.

Too many parents, in Pabari’s eyes, ply kids with reams of homework and helicopter over them – which doesn’t prepare kids for their future jobs.

“Zero to eighteen years are the times to make mistakes. That really is the time we should give young people the opportunity to explore the world, to be curious,” he said.

His company, Fiftysix Creations, has been running Business Camps in New Zealand (sponsored by MYOB) aimed at giving kids and teenagers the skills they need to thrive in future industries.

The camps teach kids all sorts of skills, but coding isn’t necessarily one of them.

Why coding’s dead

“Computers are able to and will only be able to get better at programming themselves,” said Pabari.

“Computer programming’s a skill of the past. There’s no point teaching a generation of young people digital coding skills – that was from a past generation.”

He says what’s going to set individuals apart (or at least avoid them being replaced by machines) are soft skills associated with the arts rather than hardcore STEM skills.

The Business Camps teach things like collaboration and teamwork, soft skills, public peaking, the ability to work in groups and financial literacy.

“These are skills that are innately human,” said Pabari “but they’re skills that schools are just not teaching.”

Pabari says one of the biggest skills needed in the future is simply creativity – something that can be lost as children get older.

“Coming up with business ideas to change the world’s biggest problems needs a bit of creativity, it needs a bit of risk taking. Because young people aren’t seeing the roadblocks yet, they’re just going for it,” he said.

So, parents are well advised to encourage curiosity and creativity wherever they can – and Pabari says it’s wise they re-balance their feelings on “screen time”.

Why Fortnite isn’t a dirty word

While parents have very legitimate concerns about how much screen time young people are spending and their safety on the Internet, the businesses of the future are inherently digital.

Instead of thinking about screen time as a negative or a positive, parents can think deeper and discuss it with their kids.

“If they’re [playing] games like Fortnite, the kids are going to know exactly why,” said Pabari.

It’s changing the conversation about digital experiences.

“How about we start having dinner-table conversations about how you can create that next game?” said Pabari.

He says his parents’ trust in him to use the Internet safely and wisely meant he was able to foster relationships which have served him well to this day.

“I was on LinkedIn since I was 10 years old and the number of mentors I found there was absolutely incredible,” said Pabari.

“Regardless of whether you’re in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland, they can connect with incredible human beings – all just from sitting at home.”

“The positives of having access to the Internet I think far outweigh the negatives.”

Pabari cited the success of Justin Bieber to prove that careers can be made online.

“He was found through YouTube, right? That’s something no other generation could have access to,” he said.

“Only his generation had access to a completely random person uploading a video on YouTube.”

But Pabari said parents could best set their children up for success by seeing that the pathways to success are varied and not pressure them to follow one way to success.

Why the traditional pathway’s an illusion

The traditional learning pathway of primary school to high school to university to the workforce is increasingly prescriptive.

Having been suspended four times before he reached Year 6, Pabari admits the traditional school environment didn’t work for him – but it can still work.

“I wouldn’t feel very comfortable with a doctor operating on me if they didn’t have a university degree, but for some young people university or traditional education is not the best pathway,” he said.

“Self-employment is a viable career pathway. It’s something quite practical and something many young people [and parents] should consider as an alternate career pathway – it’s not a secondary pathway.”