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, forming part of Bright Horizons’ UK annual Modern Families Index survey, highlight a nuanced understanding among parents of the challenges ahead. Specifically, 38% cited resilience and the ability to cope through change as the most important skill for their children, underscoring a significant emphasis on emotional and psychological fortitude over purely academic achievements.

Parents today are acutely aware they are preparing their children for an unpredictable future – and a world of jobs that don’t yet exist. This awareness is shaping their priorities: while only 29% listed maths and data analysis as a key skill, a substantial 38% are most concerned with their children developing interpersonal and social skills, recognising these as crucial for navigating the complexities of future workplaces and societies.

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 the ability to cope – above technical skills such as maths and IT. This preference is notably age-dependent: working parents aged 55+ believe resilience and the ability to cope is most valuable (49%), highlighting a generational perspective on the skills deemed essential for future success. Conversely, parents aged 18-34 place most emphasis on imagination, creativity, and problem solving (32%), reflecting a younger generation’s valuation of adaptive and innovative capabilities.

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.

Caroline Wright, Director of Early Childhood at Bright Horizons UK

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.

You can download the Future Skills For Young People report here: https://solutions.brighthorizons.co.uk/resources/research/future-skills-for-young-people-report-24

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.