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Taj Pabari Fiftysix Creations Interview

Business Camps Inspire the Next Generation of Kid-Preneurs

As a result of automation disrupting many industries, students graduating high school today face an uncertain future. A recent report, Future Proofing Students, commissioned by school workshop provider, Fiftysix Creations, has found that 80% of parents admitted to not being confident they know what jobs will exist in 20 years' time and 74% of parents did not know what skills the workforce of the future will need.

Fiftysix Creations, which was founded in 2014 by then 14-year-old CEO, Taj Pabari, teaches children to learn the skills that will be most valuable in their careers, such as networking, communicating, taking initiative and public speaking. During their in-school programs and Business Camp workshops, Fiftysix Creations advocates for greater emphasis on these skills to shape the workplaces of the future, and is calling for these transferable skills to no longer be referred to as 'soft' skills. Taj Pabari believes that it's in fact these very skills that are the ones which will allow children to adapt to a future moulded by automation.

Having only just graduated high school himself, Taj is uniquely placed to understand the pressures put on school children and the challenges that lie ahead as they embark on their career paths. According to the young CEO, governments and businesses are currently putting far too much emphasis on kids learning advanced computer coding and digital skills. He believes this emphasis comes at the expense of teaching kids universal skills, such as communication, critical thinking and problem solving, which are needed to succeed in almost every industry.

"Most kids have grown up with digital technology to the point that using it is second nature. While digital literacy is important, increased automation will mean that not everyone will require coding skills to operate in a digital environment. What will set employees apart is the ability to think critically and creatively, analyse and solve problems, and communicate effectively. If children aren't learning these skills today, the workforce of the future is going to be at risk of having a skills shortage" said Mr Pabari.

"Coding, programming and digital skills are important, but it's the transferable skills, those which harness leadership and enhance communication that will allow people to be agile in a changing and unknown job landscape. When it comes to solving complex algorithms or crunching data, humans simply can't compete with robots, instead, what will really help children succeed in the future workforce is critical thought and idea generation.

Surprisingly, given society's dependence on technology, in the Future Proofing Students survey, parents ranked digital skills last on a list of attributes deemed important for job success. They considered communication, interpersonal and critical thinking skills as the top three skills which make people successful in their careers. Numeracy and digital skills were ranked second last and last respectively. The survey revealed that whilst seven out of ten parents believe communication skills are highly important for their child to have for their future career, only half are currently learning communications skills in formal education environments. 50% of parents also consider leadership and management to be important for the future but only 18% of children are learning these skills.

Whilst the survey has highlighted a knowledge gap between the skills required for future success, and the number of children currently learning them, Fiftysix Creations has spent the last four years working to bridge this gap.

"I spend a lot of time with children and educators and what is increasingly apparent is that there is a lack of focus on these skills, so it's interesting to see that Australian parents are also sensing this gap in their children's education."

"Given how rapidly workplaces and industries are evolving, to remain ahead Australian kids should be taught a varied mix of skills, so they are well prepared to be adaptable and equipped to respond to the changing landscape in the job market."

Pabari concluded, "A well-rounded and integrated education, which encompasses a range of experiences is so important. Many parents later go on to tell me their child is thinking more innovatively, and that their horizons have been expanded from what they have learnt at the Fiftysix Creations course".

Interview with Taj Pabari, Fiftysix Creations CEO

Question: What is Fiftysix Creations?

Taj Pabari: I started Fiftysix Creations, which is now Australia's Largest Entrepreneurship School Workshop Provider, when I was only 14 years old. Fast forward four and a half years and we now offer a range of workshops to schools as well as Business Camp during the school holidays.

Question: Can you tell us about the Business Camps for kids?

Taj Pabari: Business Camp by Fiftysix Creations - your child can start their very own business in just three days! In just 72 hours, children will experience the highs, lows, love, and pressure that make up the ever changing world of business. They will meet the most amazing friends and mentors, along the way building their very own business or social change movement. One for One. For every ticket purchased for Business Camp, we provide a complimentary ticket to a child who cannot afford one. That's our promise! We do this by harnessing our young people with core creative and critical thinking skills, as well as teaching them how to communicate and present effectively.

Question: Who do you run these Business Camps for?

Taj Pabari: Our Business Camps are tailored towards young people as young as five all the way to eighteen. We believe that every young person has the right to a high quality education; regardless of their age, knowledge and demographic.

Question: How can parents teach their children career skills such as networking, communicating and leadership, in the home?

Taj Pabari: I always believe in inspiring by example, as well as ensuring that our young people inherent creativity is nurtured and encouraged by parents and teachers alike. What I have learnt from running Business Camp by Fiftysix Creations is that no one is too young to have an incredible idea - all you have to do, is take the first step.

Question: What inspired you to create Fiftysix Creations when you were 14?

Taj Pabari: I realised what was really lacking within the Australian Education System was giving young people the skills, resources and the mindset needed in today's innovation economy. These skills include; Communication, Networking, Public Speaking and Financial Literacy.

Question: How has Fiftysix Creations developed since then?

Taj Pabari: Fiftysix Creations started off as a predominantly tech-focused business. However, as I built the business and learnt more about the skills which kids need for the future, I began focusing our Fiftysix Creations Programs on harnessing and developing the core skills that all successful people have - such as advanced communications and presenting, emotional intelligence, creativity and critical thinking.

Question: What has been the biggest business challenge you've overcome, so far?

Taj Pabari: Currently, I believe Australia is fixated on the idea that all young people need to learn advanced coding skills to do well in their future jobs or careers. But given the rapid pace of automation and AI, most coding skills will become redundant. What we believe is that it's actually traits otherwise known as 'soft skills' - creativity, higher emotional intelligence and critical thinking - which will prepare kids for the future and help them stand out in a competitive job market.

Question: What's a typical day like, for you?

Taj Pabari: We don't have typical days at Fiftysix Creation! Our Fiftysix Creations Family (AKA Classroom Coaches) travel a lot delivering our Fiftysix Creations Workshops during the school term as well as Business Camp by Fiftysix Creations in the School Holidays. When we are not running a Fiftysix Creations Workshop or Business Camp or, we are looking at new ways to build the future young people's skills so that they can have successful futures, as well as working with Federal and State Governments on new initiatives, such as how to stop the scourge of cyber bullying.

Question: What's next for Fiftysix Creations?

Taj Pabari: We are always trialling and researching new ways of thinking and learning, so that we can keep increasing the skills-base of Australian Young People. We are just about to launch Business Camp in Auckland, so we are excited to expand globally - watch this space!

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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