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Facing up to the future

The next wave of graduates is about to enter the international marketplace.

Highly educated, many will be required either to extend their studies or accept employment, often for little money, doing work with little or no relevance to the skills obtained at university, thus disappointing long-cherished dreams in the process.

Even for those who secure good jobs, property prices in many developed countries, particularly in urban centres, mean that young people are forced to rent, unable to afford to get their foot on the property ladder.

Nevertheless, the young of today continue to live as their parents did: enjoying life, spending money, settling down and eventually starting families. Little if anything is being saved. Rather, many appear to be disguising unsustainable levels of debt.

Their parents have been lucky. Theirs is a generation which has not suffered the consequences of war, has good skill levels, entered a jobs market when they were young which still presaged a long and fruitful career ahead of them.

For many of these this career is now about to end. They have helped their children financially (including security them an education), but after a long working life they feel entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

This is represented by regular visits to restaurants, foreign holidays and, for some, second homes. Those in their 50s and 60s have money and many will be able to leave something to their children, but I worry about what these same children will be able to leave to theirs.

During the coming decades, for the prosperous part of the world, globalisation is going to be a scary thing.

Don’t misunderstand me, the longer term benefits, in terms of opportunity, mobility and world peace are going to be huge, but these are going to be enjoyed by the coming generation, one that will be born during the next two to three decades.

Those who are currently children or in their twenties (the younger generation) will have to adjust, make sacrifices and untangle the knots that will ensue.

For those in the developing world opportunity has already knocked. In their countless thousands they are already voting with their feet, upping sticks and leaving their failed societies behind in search of some new kind of ‘promised land’. The reaction increasingly and certainly the temptation, on the other side of the moat, is to raise the drawbridge in order to deny them entry.

Anyone who pretends the coming period is going to be easy is living, with the birds, in Cloud Cuckoo Land. For some, the solution is to withdraw and isolate one’s nation from the rest of the world.

Plaintive cries for sovereignty, democracy and self-government are, in reality, nothing more than a mask worn by those who, in a state of panic, don’t know how to respond and whose impulse is to retire to the apparent comfort and warmth of self-imposed hibernation.

Such a solution represents an abdication of responsibility of no service to the younger generation and the next one to come. The problem for these two generations is that their turn to exercise power has yet to come and so they are beholden to the current generation of politicians, officials and managers.

I am a member of that current generation.

If we like, we can continue to waste time discussing the latest remark by Donald Trump, admiring Kim Kardashian’s backside and backslapping each other with the reassurance that at least we are nothing like that awful man Vladimir Putin; or we can actually look to the future and the ultimate well-being of our children and sometime grandchildren by engaging with the big questions that the next wave of leaders will have to tackle, head-on, if the opportunity (etc.)

I have indicated above is, in the end, going to be realised.

So what are these big questions? They include, good (including corporate) governance, the rule of law and more effective measures to fight corruption for globalisation not only to offer hope for citizens, but attract people to settle in Brazil, Angola and Bangladesh, also. There needs to be sustainable development to help us adapt to climate change.

Also, reform of pensions, working hours and conditions, and ever more emphasis on innovation and training to ensure that the newly qualified have a career to look forward to and retirement can remain long and secure.

Finally, the factors which make organised crime a highly profitable reality for many need to be removed. All of these require enhanced collaboration between authorities (both governmental and non-governmental), and shall be discussed, in turn, during the weeks to come.

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