Five Programs That Are Preparing Gen Z for the Future of Work

By Elana Lyn Gross, Contributor

Eighty-five percent of the jobs we’ll see in 2030 haven’t been invented yet, according to the Dell Technologies Realizing 2030 report. In the wake of a new employment paradigm, educational programs are proactively preparing the next generation of corporate leaders.

These five companies are developing digital literacy and social programs—they predict—will power the future of work.

ZerotoStartup

ZerotoStartup is a Toronto-based initiative that aims to give students age 12-to-17 an experiential foundation in technology. During a 13-week entrepreneurship program, young participants use technology to solve a sustainability challenge facing Toronto.

Throughout the program, students learn to build electronic products with Arduino and use design thinking to develop UI and UX with the user in mind. They also gain web design, coding, robotics, and presentation skills. Together, students pitch a product, build a prototype, and present it at the end of the course.

“If you want to start up a business, teamwork is essential because everyone has their own little part and all these little parts come together to create success”
-Yamini Belmon, co-founder of EZPark

In one case, when a team realized that some of Toronto’s traffic stemmed from people driving to find parking, they designed the EZPark app to reduce traffic by allowing drivers to search for parking availability, make reservations, and extend parking by paying online.

“The experience was amazing,” Yamini Belmon, one of the founders of EZPark, told Inside Halton. “I learned so many new things like programming and connecting hardware to software,” Belmon added.

Tynker

Tynker teaches kids age seven and up to program computers by building games, apps, robots, and more. The California-based company offers self-paced online courses for children to learn coding at home and a programming curriculum for schools. At the beginner and intermediate levels, kids learn about block coding, animations, game design, robotics, and augmented reality. As they become more advanced, they master JavaScript, Python, and web design in the same fun style of learning.

“There’s a big movement going on out there to empower girls based in STEM. All kids are smart and we want to make it fun.”
-Krishna Vedati, co-founder and CEO of Tynker

Tynker has even partnered with Mattel—the makers of Barbie—to create a Barbie-themed curriculum to encourage girls to pursue STEM. “Barbie’s an iconic brand that a lot of girls play with and we wanted to connect that to STEM,” Tynker’s co-founder and chief executive Krishna Vedati told Moneyish.

Ford Girls’ Fast Track Races

In partnership with the Girl Scouts, Ford is helping to create a space for young women in engineering, aerodynamics, weight distribution, and design. During the program, girls make wooden cars, while being introduced to Ford’s female engineers. At the end of the Ford Girls’ Fast Track Races program, the girls race the cars to put their learning to the test.

“Providing this leadership development opportunity is a key element of our Girl Scout programming.”
-Elizabeth Perez, VP of institutional giving for Girl Scouts of the USA

“We are grateful for our Ford collaboration because it goes beyond simply offering STEAM content,” Elizabeth Perez, vice president of institutional giving for Girl Scouts of the USA, told Ford Authority. “Ford engineers work directly with girls during the races.”

FIRST

FIRST, a New Hampshire-based nonprofit organization, offers robotics programs to kids ages five-to-18. In addition to teaching programming and other robotics skills, the organization hosts the FIRST Championship. Here, students from around the world come together to compete in robotics challenges, simultaneously learning skills such as teamwork, collaboration, conflict resolution, and commitment.

“We have to make sure the kids of the future have the skill sets to move out of the jobs that are ugly, dangerous, boring and backbreaking, and move into the career opportunities that give them and the world a better opportunity for nine billion people.”
-Dean Kamen, found of FIRST, speaking at SXSW

According a FIRST Impact report, more than 75 percent of FIRST alumni go on to work in STEM fields.

Wonder Workshop

Wonder Workshop creates toys that teach coding to kids age six and up. The Bay Area company’s award-winning Dash, Dot and Cue educational robots are now used in 20,000 elementary and middle schools, globally. Kids use block code or JavaScript on a smartphone or tablet to control the robots.

The company also hosts the Wonder League Robotics Competition, which brings together teams of international students ages 6-to-12 who use coding and robotics skills to solve social impact challenges. The more than 22,000 students who participated in the 2017-2018 competition also gained soft skills like collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity.

“As the tech-savvy children grow up, they will seek the immediacy delivered by tech in all aspects of their lives — fueling continuous innovation in automating every task around us.”
-Vikas Gupta, found of Wonder Workshop

The event places an emphasis on gender diversity and a commitment to expanding diversity within STEM fields, and 47 percent of the students in the most recent competition were girls. All-girl teams also took four of the competitions top 10 spots.

“Increasingly, humans will be valued for their creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, judgment and technical skills, rather than their knowledge,” founder Vikas Gupta, told Twice.