Major Study reveals skills Children need to Navigate an Uncertain Future

Parents value ‘soft skills’ over ‘hard skills’ to future-proof their children’s wellbeing, new research reveals.

  • 38% cited resilience and the ability to cope through change as most important
  • 38% are most concerned with their children developing interpersonal and social skills
  • Only 29% listed maths and data analysis as a key skill
  • Working parents aged 55+ believe resilience and the ability to cope is most valuable (49%), while parents aged 18-34 place most emphasis on imagination, creativity and problem solving (32%)

A survey of over 3,000 working parents has revealed that in a world of rapidly evolving technology and AI, parents want their children to develop life skills over those that are technical or academic.

The findings formed part of Bright Horizons’ UK annual Modern Families Index survey and found that parents today are acutely aware they are preparing their children for an unpredictable future - and a world of jobs that don’t yet exist.

To counter these growing concerns and fears for their children’s mental health, parents are placing greater importance on life skills such as resilience and ability to cope - above technical skills such as maths and IT.

One parent quoted in the report revealed: “Having interpersonal skills and resilience helps her to understand when she should say no to something. She will live in a world where no one will ever be able to switch off. She needs to be able to create boundaries and show her worth at work so as to not be overlooked by AI.”

Rather than simply preparing for school or for a specific career path, parents recognise their children need to be prepared for life, with the confidence and motivation to flourish, whatever the circumstances.

Caroline Wright, Director of Early Childhood at Bright Horizons UK commented: “These findings amplify the importance of the uniquely holistic educational approach practised in our nurseries. There is a rapidly growing need for parents to feel their child’s emotional development is being supported as they mature, so by introducing the concept of positive mental health from an early age, we can help children feel safe and secure and be open to learning.

“Our Nurture Approach™ places equal emphasis on children’s emotional wellbeing, as well as practical and academic skills, and this provides the foundations for children to reach their full potential - preparing them for life in an ever-changing world.”

Further data shows parents seek support and guidance through their employers on developing children’s emotional and interpersonal skills in their parenting. This is evident through those utilising Bright Horizons’ Work+Family Solutions ‘Speak to an Expert’ service. Almost half of employees using the provision were seeking advice on young people’s resilience, wellbeing and helping their children manage emotions.