Forty years from now, predicts the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), talent will be a lot more important than academic level. Institutions of higher education will be even more interested in attracting this talent: it will be open season for hunting down the best students.
Now, as the new year gets under way, what does the future have in store for us – particularly in the area of education? The Institute for Social Research is looking even farther ahead to 2050.
At present, a graduate of higher education often has a better chance of landing an interesting job with a good future. But the SCP predicts this situation will change and that talent will play a greater role than a diploma. In another forty years, academic level will be seen more as reflecting a particular point in time since continuing education will then be taken for granted.
Even now, this talent is being stimulated in the form of special education programmes for excellent, highly motivated students. Degree programmes are increasingly opting for selecting their students, so competition among the programmes is building. According to the SCP, these ‘talent wars’ will be a greater factor in the future.
But being a good student doesn’t necessarily mean you are also talented. In fact, although the cognitive aspect will continue to play a role in a person’s success in society, it will be less of a determining factor than it is now. This is because computers will become increasingly intelligent, so a lack of knowledge will be less of an obstacle.
Skills that robots and computer don’t have and can never develop will be given a higher priority. The SCP is predicting that highly empathetic people with excellent communication skills will come out ahead.
The Netherlands and its educational institutions are also becoming increasingly diverse and internationalised. Speaking more than one language will later be a real advantage.
The SCP researchers are thus wondering whether the Dutch government should actually continue its funding of institutions of higher education. ‘In the future, a full comprehensive range of publicly funded education will no longer be justified, so the percentage of private funding will increase.’
If all of these developments occur, we could have a system in which only the best will make it. The SCP is warning that inequality will rise if nothing is done to prevent this.