The future of work: Part 1

The future of work: Part 1

Four Possible Economic Scenarios

Jon Halligan, Director of Schools, VIE Education

A lot of discussion has taken place around the short-term future post Covid, but I want to take a longitudinal look at political, social, technological, and economic trends and the significant challenges society is facing.

Using input from various sources such as OECD, PwC and McKinsey I have attempted to identify four possible future economies and illustrate how they might shape our children’s future.

I have taken the liberty of illustrating these possible future economies through four crude vignettes:

  1. The empathy economy
  2. The mega-corporate technoconomy
  3. The disruptive economy
  4. The humanitarian economy

The Empathy Economy

In an empathy driven economy, fairness and social good are dominant, where businesses with a heart and artisans are able to thrive in a bustling and creative marketplace. Fairness, ethics, and empathy are safeguarded by society as the most important values.

What does a future empathetic economy look like in action? Here are some of the possible attributes:

Teaching is paramount: teaching is one of the most in-demand occupations and teachers’ skills are highly sought out by every member of the work force.

New technologies and AI: it is time to allow technology to expedite equality in progress, learning, and education. Equal access to education will be achieved through e-learning. Repetitive tasks and low-level administration will become automated, freeing up time that is spent on the human side of teaching.

Emotional intelligence is valued: whether it’s coding or carpentry, jobs that will succeed have a core set of skills related to creativity, problem solving, and communication. Teachers are sought out by companies to train employees in social skills that are often ignored in our world today.

Urban areas flourish: in this empathy economy, those in urban settings have no problem achieving success with social skill development, etc. However, individuals in rural areas struggle to thrive as the hotbed of empathetic investment and development is reserved for more liberal areas. This creates a larger disparity than already exists between nations like Vietnam versus nations like Japan.

A world of empathy is one in which workers, companies, and educational institutions seek out greater meaning, as well as relevance, in what they do. People want answers – they don’t want to be just another blip on the overall corporate radar. There is a demand for fairness, a distribution of wealth, and equality that makes it possible for diversity to thrive in every industry.

There is flexibility, autonomy, and fulfilment, as the individual sheds their personal brand for the good of the collective. Traditional employers aren’t as valued as the ones that are taking their time to invest in social justice projects and community organising.

What does this mean for education?

Preparing students for an empathy economy requires a restructuring of classic “testing,” in exchange for competency and skill development, debate, and communication. Creativity is more valued, with personal growth and expression through the arts central to the curriculum offered by schools and colleges. Volunteering is a mandatory part of graduating, helping to expose students to non-profits and social justice concepts they can manage at companies.

E-learning is developing rapidly and is equally highly valued as traditional classroom-based learning, with advances in VR conferencing, and collaborative group projects prioritised over individual achievement and advancement. This makes it easier for students around the world to secure an equal education. 

A future of empathy is certainly one which I would respect and given the challenges we are currently facing, one we need.

However, the question is: Does humanity care enough to take action or are we inherently self-interested and self-serving?