The sudden departure of one of our staff this week was a stark reminder of the importance of developing cultural understanding amongst school-age youngsters, preparing them for a successful future business career.
The working world is now international. Empathy for the etiquette of doing business with different nationalities and cultural or social backgrounds is crucial. Inviting children from different cultures home for tea or considering acting as guardian to an international child at a local boarding school are great ways for parents to instil tolerance and understanding of culture within their youngsters at home.
With the uptake of languages at GCSE and A Level in decline, are we expecting our global business partners of the future to speak English, hoping other countries place languages higher on their curriculum priorities than we do? Many schools now offer Mandarin, Japanese or Russian. Smart subject choices could make a far more attractive CV in the future.
Communication skills are fundamental to career success. With social media and technology, it is easier than ever to keep in touch, but sadly this seems to have replaced talking to one another. Are we raising a generation who will lack the capability to initiate conversation and hence the potential to network and develop successful business relationships? Sending an email or text instead of picking up the phone seems to be the norm. TV dinners and hectic working lives have perhaps seen the demise of the family meal around the kitchen table, losing the art of conversation.
Reliability and trustworthiness are also important. Parents can set their teenagers off on the right path by encouraging them to deliver to deadlines, make curfews on time, commit to engagements and not back out at the last minute, because a better offer comes along.