A recent article in The New York Times paints a fascinating picture of college prep hitting the playground, with first graders visiting college campuses, making diagrams of what classes they want to attend and filling mock applications to ensure that the class of 2030 is college-ready.

Indeed, the ‘college admissions’ frenzy is now kicking off as early as elementary school. Guided college tours or writing mock personal essays represent great opportunities to inspire children to think about their future. But are we, both parents and teachers, on the right track to ‘future proof’ our young ones? Are we equipping them with the right skills to succeed in life – with or without a college degree?

Advances in technology constantly shape the economy and our role in it. In the next decade, we need to prepare our children, the future workforce, for a world where smart machines are predicted to destroy many of our existing jobs and for “skill intensive” jobs that don’t exist today.

Growing voices are advocating for stronger emphasis on STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for these will prepare our children to be “creative entrepreneurs” while machines take care of the more mundane tasks.

So what does this mean?

Should my kids focus more on math and science? Do they absolutely need to learn to code? Should they join a Sudoku club instead of football?

Sure they should! Not only to boost their STEM skills, but also to hone their ‘soft-skills’ because future workers and leaders will have to be innovative, decisive and empathetic.

Gaming, coding, making will drive them to think independently and creatively, spot and solve problems, innovate constantly and lead teams in an increasingly interconnected ecosystem – in short, the scope of skills that will be expected of the future workforce.

As we continue to teach our young ones to read, write, count – and eventually code, we can no longer afford to ignore the 4Cs: creativity, cooperation, communication and critical thinking.

Published in collaboration with WISE. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Sebastien Turbot is the Director of Content and Curator of the World Innovation Summit for Education, an Initiative of Qatar Foundation

Image: An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel.