Home' Rotary Down Under : August 2018 Contents XXXXXX
| 44 | ISSUE 606 JUNE 2018
A SPEAKER at a recent conference
on the future of work referred to his
children, not yet teenagers, of whom
he said, “Every screen they see,
There are hundreds of ways to
characterise the digital age and to draw
contrasts between the characteristics
of the various generations, but that
little anecdote says a lot. Why do they
swipe? Not to annoy, but to discover –
it’s learned behaviour. Swipe and the
The most important thing it says is
that the way people under 10, under
20, under 30, or under 40 behave is
different one from another and different
again from those older than that.
It is probably enough to say
that these differences reflect the
technologies available at the time and
the life experiences it was possible to
have in those generational bands.
When travelling to Europe, Aussies
and Kiwis used to go by ship, because
air travel was too expensive. People
used to leave school at 15 or 16,
because they could and because there
were jobs available. One can go on for
some time recalling the way life was.
But the much more serious question
is, what life will be like in the future
and what skills one will need to
navigate that future successfully?
George W Bush once remarked that
it was difficult to make predictions,
particularly about the future, and in his
own clumsy way he was right.
One thing does seem a pretty sure
bet. Ten years from now won’t be like
What world will our
up in – and what role
does Rotary need
to play to ensure its
today, any more than today is like 10
That change is a constant is now
generally accepted, not always
willingly, but no one seriously argues
that the pace of change in the world
is going to stop.
So, what does the young person
growing up right now need to survive
and prosper? Educators say three sets
of skills are required.
• Foundation skills for life: Literacy
and numeracy, scientific literacy,
and some capacity to handle
ICT, finance, and cultural and
• Complex skills: These cover critical
thinking and problem-solving,
creativity, communications, and the
ability to collaborate.
• And then there’s character skills:
Curiosity, initiative, persistence,
adaptability, leadership, and social
and cultural awareness.
The more of each that a person has,
it is argued, and the higher the level
to which the skills are developed and
exercised, the better the person will be
equipped to face uncertainty and deal
with what comes.
Education systems in developed
countries like Australia and New
Zealand need to be organised to
deliver these skills to all who pass
through their doors, and to continue
to do so after formal education
One technique now widely used is
a system of micro-credits for specific
pieces of knowledge that a person
wishes to acquire at some point in their
life. These can be delivered online, or
in short bursts of face-to-face contact.
Education – state or privately
provided – is generally supply-side
driven. “What we need to do is to
raise aspirations about what we want
from courses,” argued a speaker at
the Work in Progress Conference held
in Wellington, NZ, last November.
These courses might be anything
from 50 to 600 hours of study. Tim
Fowler, chief executive of New Zealand’s
Tertiary Education Commission, said
modern education should enable
work/study/skills development and
family to be seamlessly combined.
Jan Owen from the Foundation for
Young Australians told the conference
that today’s 15-year-old would likely
change employers 17 times in their
She champions the use of social
media to connect to young people.
Jan and her organisation use just
about every form of social media to
talk to, and with, multiple audiences
in a continuous conversation.
The point about Rotary’s need to use
social media proficiently to connect
with young people has been made
often, and clubs’ performances and
confidence levels range from the very
good to the abysmal.
For Jan, the three main forces
shaping the world of the future
are: automation, globalisation and
collaboration. It follows, she says, that
by 2030 the four skills that will matter
most are: presentation, creativity,
critical thinking and digital literacy.
Organisations that can embrace and
embody those skills into their everyday
practices will be more likely to succeed
than those that don’t.
This is because well-educated,
intelligent people wanting to make
a difference will seek out those
organisations to be their employers.
They’ll also choose groups exemplifying
those values to play sport, pursue their
hobbies and interests, to find their
friends, soulmates and life partners.
Rotary needs to be one of those
groups offering what these people are
looking for in media they use to find
what they want.
Succeed and we prosper. Fail,
or just don’t do it well, and we will
fall away. Other bodies more closely
matching the preferences of the new
generations will take our place.
WHAT WILL THE WORLD BE
LIKE WHEN I GROW UP?
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