David Carnegie: Who could have predicted the pace of change we are seeing today? Change itself is even accelerating! New Year’s resolutions (aka your to-do list for the first week in January) rarely get executed but for those super diligent goal setters 2020’s effort was, well, totally ripped up in a matter of weeks anyway. Yet, against a backdrop of Lockdowns, severe economic restrictions and the mass global experiment of ‘working & schooling from home’, disruption and transformation continued unabated. Capital flow, e-commerce and VC investments set new records in 2020, and that’s before anyone mentions cryptocurrencies. So as change accelerates, we need to keep up too. Otherwise, we will be disrupted. To future proof our careers (or at least try), we need (i) to be healthy; both physically and mentally and (ii) harness new mind sets to embrace continuous development. We need to learn, grow, adapt, thrive and critically upskill like our lives depended on it – which they do. We are all students again in the ‘University’ where you can’t graduate. Will this be hard? Absolutely, but to borrow a quote from Warren Buffett ‘predicting rains doesn’t count, building arks does’. Look ahead, keep developing, keep progressing and while there are no guarantees, our wellbeing, our inner selves and our new capabilities will make us truly richer. I asked Tom Savigar of Avansere to share his insights with us…
“Education plays a critical role, providing individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to participate effectively in society.”
Tom Savigar: “2021 is going to be a year of single-mindedness much like 2020 was. Looking at the World Economic Forum’s new Global Risks Report it’s clear that infectious diseases and environmental issues will continue to dominate, accounting for the top five risks by impact. But while the pandemic made last year a descent into existential risk, loss, and grief, this one begins at least with the promise of rise to recovery and a more positive reality. So it’s no surprise that part of the key to wellbeing is safeguarding and elevating our mental health and learning.
Education plays a critical role, providing individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to participate effectively in society. According to New Scientist magazine, when countries develop economically, people live longer. Until now, experts believed this is because having more money extends lifespan but a new study by Wolfgang Lutz of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna suggests that in fact, it is better education that drives longer life and wealth. He cites Cuba as an example of a poor country where the population has a higher life expectancy than the US because it is well educated. Meanwhile in oil-rich but poorly-educated Equatorial Guinea, people rarely reach 60.
“A new study by Wolfgang Lutz of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna suggests that it is better education that drives longer life and wealth.”
As we know, access to basic knowledge and education is not a global given. In 2015, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tested students from 72 countries, including Brazil and the Russian Federation. The average student in the OECD countries scored 486; here the gap between the highest and lowest performer was 113 points. However, the gap with Brazil is even larger (and growing inter-Covid), with an average performance separated by 134 points from that in Japan.
In a fast-changing, fourth industrial revolution, low levels of higher-education means that many will not acquire the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in modern economies. Add to that the devastating consequence of Covid-19 – unemployment – which directly affects household net adjusted disposable income and net wealth, and the picture is bleak. So how can we elevate those in developing countries so that that they can have access to higher education, protect themselves from economic vulnerability, achieve higher living standards and greater wellbeing?
“In a fast-changing, fourth industrial revolution, low levels of higher education means that many will not acquire the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in modern economies.”
Shifting the focus to developed economies, Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, believes the pandemic has greased the wheels for big tech to enter higher education. “Partnerships like MIT@Google, iStanford and HarvardxFacebook will allow universities to expand enrollment dramatically by offering hybrid online-offline degrees, the affordability and value of which will seismically alter the landscape of higher education,” he says. Indeed, the changing advanced education industry will equip students and budding entrepreneurs with the right tools to thrive in the workplace. For instance, business schools can focus on enhancing an individual’s wellness levels (according to Unwind, 79 percent of European organisations have experienced an increase in requests for mental health support from employees as a result of the pandemic) and instilling a sense of belonging (loneliness is fast becomes a major cause of stress among leaders).
“According to Unwind, 79% of European organisations have experienced an increase in requests for mental health support from employees as a result of the pandemic.”
According to PwC, coaching is the second fastest growing sector worldwide, and business schools will also be better positioned to help students tap into this. Plus, technology is expected to enhance the way we connect through new applications of gaming, AI and data, with the affective computing market (the largest element of the AI industry) looking set to grow from €45bn by 2021 to €833bn by 2025. Business schools will accelerate their ability to better serve each student as ‘learning from anywhere’ becomes the norm. Finally, interest in sustainable investing is booming, up from 19 percent in 2015 to 49 percent in 2019 – and jumping even higher among millenials, from 28 percent to 70 percent.
Positive signs then, that adopting new mindsets and models is becoming increasingly important. Looking to the future, these shifts will need to include finding radical solutions for improving access to basic knowledge and advanced education – which in turn, will create a richer life for ourselves and others.”