Seeing off another bunch of youth set sail to life

This week's opinion piece looks at this year's graduating students.

We are realizing yet another grad season, with brilliant young people being sent off to the next stage of their journey with glare and glitter, celebrating the outcome of years of effort put into their studies from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Some will pursue further studies while others start to put into practice whatever skills they have already acquired in the course of their high school years, being welders, hairdressers, car mechanics or cooks; some might do both, working to finance their university tuition fees.

Whatever they will be doing, there is one thing certain that they have to face as they advance along their chosen path, and that is the increasing uncertainty in the world we live.

It has been almost a decade since newcomers to the labor market started to be preached about what they should or should not expect in their careers: The time for holding on to your job until retirement is long gone, be prepared to work for at least half a dozen different employers before even beginning to think of retirement.

In addition to, or rather in connection with, the changing economic circumstances, the social background we are living against is undergoing fundamental shifts, too. OECD, the international think tank of the capitalist system has just announced that income distribution has just taken a turn for the worse, with the highest earning 10 percent of the population making 10 times the money of the bottom 10 per cent in the industrialized west. Middle classes in developed economies are slowly seeing their share of wealth get steadily smaller as they join the ranks of poor, increasing the possibility of social conflict while religious extremism contributes to the emergence of tendencies for too strong governments, threatening individual liberties and ultimately the values of democratic governance.

This comes on top of the technological revolution that has been changing our lives on an almost daily basis with newly developed apps coming on stream, transforming the way we share and exchange information and even having an impact on the way we think and act. This progress in technology also allows more and more employers to prefer robots to do the work rather than humans, creating a significant employment crunch for those populating the labor market.

We should also remember that by the time the graduates of this year come of age of carrying family responsibilities, technology will have progressed much faster and the challenges of today will have increased, maybe exponentially in certain areas.

It looks certain, then, that with such head-spinning pace of change in the way we live and work, most of the youth saying goodbye to their high schools these days could well be in need of additional skills training, and even longer term reeducation, to adjust to new circumstances that will be emerging in the years and decades to come.

But regardless of the kind of new skills or abilities that they might have to acquire in the later stages of their lives, two main characteristics that they should have developed in their years of secondary education will stay with them as long as they live: Prudence and sense of responsibility.

The first will allow them to chart their courses through the foreseen and unforeseen traps life will set for them and the second will be their guiding principle as they strive to be the best individuals they can be.

As their parents, teachers, elders and acquaintances, we have all the right to share the pride of their moment of glory in their graduation celebrations if we could make even the tiniest of contributions to those two main traits of their personality.