Human Capital… developing the potential of humanity in a technological world … the future of education, healthcare and work

October 4, 2018

Human capital is a nation’s most valuable asset, and the key to its future growth. However in a world of disruptive change, we need to develop people in new ways – talent, vitality and achievement – in order to ensure a better human future.

“The world is endowed with a vast wealth of human talent. The ingenuity and creativity at our collective disposal provide us with the means not only to address the great challenges of our time but also, critically, to build a future that is more inclusive and human centric” says Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum

All too often however, human potential is not realised. It is held back by short-termism, by a blinkered focus on partial solutions, or by inequality. The World Bank’s Human Capital Index claims that the world has developed only 62% of its human capital, leaving much of the talent and dreams of people across the world unrealised.

This matters because human capital is an investment – in all of us – our personal health, talent and achievement – to sustain economic growth, and to compete in a rapidly changing world. If we don’t invest then we decline. And in today’s world, if we don’t invest then we decline dramatically.

We live in the most incredible time.

The next 10 years will see more change than the last 250 years. From self-cleaning clothes and digital personal assistants, DNA profiling to automated cars, intelligent machines to missions to Mars. None of this is new, yet we approach it with trepidation. Do we need and want this change? Change is inevitably scary and disruptive.

Whilst the last century saw huge improvements in living standards around the world – in reducing poverty and unemployment, improving literacy and health – the years ahead will see new challenges. Challenges to the dreams to which we aspired. Challenges to the current models of success. What will happen to jobs, to the aging populations, to small businesses, to emerging countries, to local cultures?

Today we see how digital technologies are transforming every aspect of our lives – how we go shop for food and clothes, how we get information and advice, how we learn and watch movies, how we travel or listen to music, how we connect with our families and friends. Amazon to Baidu, Coursera to Dalian Wanda, Kulula and Spotify, WhatsApp and WeChat – these new businesses, new products and services, emerge out of every corner of our world, to change what we can do, our expectations and aspirations.

And at the same time, we face many new social and environmental challenges. We see the effects of climate change, extreme weather and rising sea levels, its threat to Pacific islands and low-lying cities, and its impacts on agriculture and food economics. We see conflict and tension, often the result of misunderstanding or intolerance, its consequences in war but also in diverting investment. We see increasing inequality, despite the new opportunities increasingly accessible to all. And in a world of chatbots and fake news, we struggle to know who to trust.

The UN’s sustainability goals identify and guide us in individual and collaborative efforts to address these issues. These are issues that challenge life as we know it, and the potential of each one of us to achieve our hopes and dreams.

Our ability as individuals to participate in this new world, as businesses to compete in this new world, and as nations to grow in this world requires new capabilities. Most fundamentally it requires the foresight to make sense of this new world, the imagination to understand how capabilities should evolve further, the knowledge and skills to deploy them practically, the vision and empathy to work together, in every aspect of our lives, and within our communities.

Continue reading Peter Fisk’s new manifesto for humanity, launched in Paris today.

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