The future of work: Part 4

The future of work: Part 4

The Humanitarian Economy

Jon Halligan, Director of Schools, VIE Education

Finally, we come to the last of four possible economic futures outlined in the Workforce of the Future: the competing forces shaping 2030 report by PwC – The Humanitarian Economy, a world in which a powerful social conscience is important.

This is an economy in which workers and consumers show loyalty towards organisations that are doing the right thing, not only with their employees, but by the planet. They are prioritising the preservation of the environment over profiting to their fullest potential. Everyone is focused on and choosing to give back.

We have a finite amount of resources on our planet. This economy does not choose profit over social investment. It is a universal understanding, championed by the next generation that everyone should give up a little bit of monetary autonomy knowing they are leaving a better planet for their children, and children’s children. The culture of disposability is replaced by sustainability and re-usability.

In this economy, the following work-force demands are materialised:

Work-based learning and apprenticeships: There is a significant shift in public opinion, people aren’t enamoured with the massive companies that tear up the earth to earn a profit anymore. They’d rather spend years as an apprentice to a small business or company that actually believes in preserving the earth.

Self-sufficiency is valued: Everyone must do their part to elevate our collective social conscience. Therefore, special emphasis is placed on self-sufficiency, and everyone working together to make a change.

DIYers thrive: Plenty of people resort to do-it-yourself style training across all age groups, exemplifying the notion of lifelong learning, in order to know more about sustainability and giving back. They take courses and enrol in online collegiate courses that are centred around environmental preservation, Fair Trade, conservation, and so on.

Grassroots groups grow: We are stronger together than we are apart, which is why individuals look for collective groups that more strongly connect them to their community. They create networks around the world that make it easier for them to grow in their selflessness. 

Those who emerge successfully in a humanitarian economy are equipped with adaptability, resourcefulness, and perseverance. They don’t mind giving up some amenities for the greater good. However, the trade-off is that the “American Dream” of banking pots of money, growing in one’s career, and taking over the world with an innovation is squashed. That kind of individualism will be sacrificed to help those in need. 

What does this mean for education?

Schools need to shift their emphasis to a more interdisciplinary approach, developing competencies, skills and attributes related to preserving the planet, sustainable practices and helping those in need. A humanitarian and development education system places high value on social activism to improve our “now” but also leverages appropriate technology to allow students to problem solve the future.

At a University level, colleges need to switch to more online learning classes that the do-it-yourselfers can access, as well as training courses that relate to things like sustainability as opposed to personal finance. Since jobs outside of college aren’t as high paying as in other economies, tuition costs need to remain low.

Additionally, group networks need to be established. If colleges are able to manage those around the world, remotely, they will retain control over their students and be able to profit from this kind of educational connection.

The humanitarian economy requires a significant reframing of our lives, are we prepared to make the sacrifices? It must be worth it in the end if we don’t destroy the land we live on.