Challenging time of change

CHANGE is the one constant in life and the pace at which it occurs seems to be speeding up rapidly. While it might be argued that this sense of accelerating change is aggravated by the ageing process I suspect few would dispute that we live in ever more

CHANGE is the one constant in life and the pace at which it occurs seems to be speeding up rapidly.

While it might be argued that this sense of accelerating change is aggravated by the ageing process I suspect few would dispute that we live in ever more complex times. This scenario presents those who have a role in developing strategies to protect and develop economic wellbeing in the years to come with a number of significant challenges.

What will our principle businesses look like? What sectors will provide the jobs and wealth required to sustain a growing population? What will be the nature of employment? To what age will people need to work before they are able to afford retirement? What skills will be required? What direction will technology take us? Who will be the winners and losers in the global economy?

The list of questions goes on but, for those of us brought up in a time when mobile phones, email, the web and dare I say it, even dear old faxes, were the stuff of science fiction, trying to make sense of it all is interesting to say the least.


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It would be easy to seek consolation by claiming that we are not totally devoid of experience of the changing world. We have after all had at least 10 years of the web and what it has to offer. We have witnessed the dawn of the digital age, satellite technology and the development of other economies such as those we now see in China and India.

I suspect, however, that history will demonstrate that the developments of the last decade or so have been fairly primitive and we have received only a mere hint of what is to come. While some may be daunted by the prospects for the future others will be excited.

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I believe it is those that fall into the latter category who will thrive in the future. They will appreciate that we cannot plan everything down to the final detail but will recognise the need to be "ahead of the game".

My guess is that we will still have a proportion of large multi-national companies but really successful economies will have a growing base of small companies that are strong, adaptable and able to react positively to change. Sectors such as pharmaceuticals, aerospace, mobile communications, biotech and medtech will continue to be important to Hertfordshire but continuing to emerge and grow will be the creative industries and the diverse range of disciplines required to sustain them. The hospitality and leisure industries will continue to grow to satisfy the needs created by changing lifestyles.

Simultaneously it is my guess that the nature of employment will change. Self employment and short term contract work is likely to come to be regarded as an attractive option for more people and businesses will have to adapt to accommodate these new expectations.

In this brave new world the ability of individuals to demonstrate skills gained through experience or accredited learning will be a prerequisite.

It is part of the human condition that we are much more comfortable developing long term plans when they are based on certainties that arise from previous experiences. In the past we have been able to plan many years ahead in the reasonable certainty that the environment in which it would be executed would change at a relatively pedestrian pace. It is anybody's guess what a reasonable planning timescale might be these days.

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