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The start of a new decade prompts bigger-than-usual thoughts about the future.

Get ready for the first complete synthetic human brain, moon mining, and much more. Maybe robotic moon bases, chips implanted in our brains, self-driving cars and high-speed rail linking London to Beijing. (1) It is time to wonder what will happen this year, what will happen in 2020. In this article, we have pointed on some few things for the year:

  • Biofuel
  • Education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Electricity

The growing importance of sustainable development and the shift to a low-carbon economy is a huge change and global trend. These trends are increasing the pace of change in labour markets and skill needs. Economies moving towards greener production can seize this potential for job creation. They can deal effectively with the coming structural change and transformation of existing jobs.

We think that twenty-twenty will be a promising year.

Pump nozzle with biofuel symbolising environmental friendliness. Ecological gas diesel biofuel.

Picture by Corona Borealis

Biofuels will be cost-competitive with fossil fuels

Financial Times asks in an article if the global carbon emissions fall.  The answer is: No. Emissions from burning fossil fuels have been growing 0.9 per cent a year on average since 2010 and there are many signs of another rise in 2020. If global GDP grows as forecast we are likely to see rising use of energy, which still mostly comes from fossil fuels. Some of the fastest-growing economies will again be big users of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, not least China. It emits more CO2 than the US and EU combined, and Beijing’s efforts to stimulate the economy and boost energy security could easily bolster coal use. (2)

On the other side, we may find that the U.S. military has pledged to get half its energy from renewable resources by 2020, and the Navy whole-heartedly believes it can turn to 50 per cent biofuels by then. It makes political sense not to rely on volatile regions for energy, and this push could mean both cleaner vehicle fleets and a major bump in the competitiveness of biofuels in the market. (1)

University graduates in academic regalia holding diplomas, showing thumbs-up
Photo: Adobe Stock

World University Rankings 2020

Education is Fundamental to Development and Growth. There are many reasons why education is important. For every US$1 spent on education, as much as US$15 can be generated in economic growth. In general, education — as a critical component of a country’s human capital — increases the efficiency of each individual worker and helps economies to move up the value chain beyond manual tasks or simple production processes.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 includes almost 1,400 universities across 92 countries, standing as the largest and most diverse university rankings ever to date. The number one is the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. The University is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest surviving university. While its exact founding date is unknown, there is evidence that teaching took place as far back as 1096. Located in and around Oxford’s medieval city centre, the university comprises 44 colleges and halls, and over 100 libraries, making it the largest library system in the UK. Students number around 22,000 in total, just over half of whom are undergraduates while over 40 per cent are international, representing 140 countries between them. As a modern, research-driven university, Oxford has numerous strengths but cites particular prowess in the sciences, having recently ranked number one in the world for medicine (if it’s Medical Sciences division was a university in its own right, it would be the fourth largest in the UK) and among the top ten universities globally for life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities. (3)

We believe that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions play a more important role in 2020 and the following years, in equipping young people to enter the world of work and in improving their employability throughout their careers. The best Universities play a significant role to develop the world. In addition, we need TVET to skills the young people to carry out all the needed work. TVET institutions were established to produce the skills required by the economy. Tvet institutions are an alternative study path that can be very beneficial to the right student. TVET has become a vital component of many educational systems due to its importance in helping students to develop the technical and practical skills needed to improve their livelihood and to be competitive in today’s ever-changing world.

Education, Entrepreneurship.
Photo Adobe Stock

Entrepreneurship in 2020

More than 200 young change-makers from 65 countries have issued a call for a range of “systematic changes” in youth employment policies, noting that “business, as usual, is not working for youth”. They also stressed the need for greater investment in access to quality education and skills development systems. This should be complemented by tailored approaches to lifelong learning and skills certification, which utilize technology and protect the rights of those in internships and apprenticeship schemes.

Still, the gap remains wide. An entrepreneur in a low-income economy typically spends around 50 per cent of the country’s per-capita income to launch a company, compared with just 4.2 per cent for an entrepreneur in a high-income economy. It takes nearly six times as long on average to start a business in the economies ranked in the bottom 50 as in the top 20. Changes to start-up regulation affect the number and size of firms in the market. New firm entry results in higher productivity through the reallocation of resources from old to new firms. Meeting start-up requirements involves additional costs for firms. An implicit assumption is that firms benefit from start-up registration in the form of expanded access to credit—legal protection compensates for the additional costs of becoming formal. (4)

A related focus regarding the ways in which poverty can be reduced through entrepreneurship and new venture creation. However, how to link the key issues above with the current platform, network/digital and sharing economies, how to find new ways and new solutions to effectively reduce poverty in now political, economic and global contexts still needs to be better understood.

Electricity from windmills.
Photo Adobe Stock

Reliability of electricity 2020

Economic development, social protection policies and labour market institutions have brought improvements in decent work in many parts of the world. Current development models and economic activity, however, threaten environmental stability through climate change, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, air and water pollution, eutrophication and other forms of environmental degradation.

Power outages represent a significant obstacle to doing business in economies worldwide. An unreliable supply of electricity results in spoiled perishable goods, damage to sensitive equipment, and productivity losses. Firms adapt by buying generators and other expensive equipment to protect sensitive inventory and machinery. The effects of electricity shortages on input choices, revenue, and productivity in manufacturing plants are significant. The electrical shortages reduce the average plant’s revenue by 6–8%, and that producer surplus drops by 10%, of which roughly half is due to the cost of backup generators. The relationship between power outages and manufacturing productivity in Africa in 2002–05 and finds a negative relationship between both the number of hours per day without electricity and the percentage of output lost due to outages and productivity. We find African businesses in estimating the impact of power outages on economic growth over the period 1995–2007. The authors find that a 1-percentage-point increase in outages decreases long-run GDP per capita by 3%. Using firm-level data for 14 Sub-Saharan African economies, we find that reducing average outage levels to those of South Africa would increase overall sales of firms by 85%, and the increase would rise to nearly 120% for firms without a generator. (4)

Environmental change is an increasingly important driver of labour demand and skills supply across all sectors. Therefore, the positive impacts of the transition to a greener economy can be maximised by simultaneously developing the skills, knowledge and competences required by resource-efficient processes and technologies; and integrating these into businesses and communities.

Right skills for green jobs are the prerequisite to make the transition to a greener economy happen. Today, skills gaps are already recognized as a major bottleneck in several sectors. Sectors as renewable energy, energy and resource efficiency, renovation of buildings, construction, environmental services, manufacturing. The adoption and dissemination of clean technologies require skills in technology application, adaptation and maintenance. Skills are also crucial for economies and businesses, workers and entrepreneurs, to rapidly adapt to changes because of environmental policies or climate change,

References

  1. NBCnews (link)
  2. Financial Times, Forecasting the world in 2020 DECEMBER 27 2019
  3. World University Rankings 2020 (link)
  4. Doing Business 2020, The World Bank

Lucubrate Magazine January 2020

The photo on the top is a finger pressing a 2020 start button, a concept of new year. By jayzynism (Adobe Stock)


Conceptual symbol of cooperation diverse hands making a circle. Help each other under the common sun.
Doha, Qatar, Start of the year 2020.
Photo Karl Skaar

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Karl Skaar
Karl Skaar

Is a highly successful professional, with a high degree of entrepreneurial flair.

Roles:
- Senior Analyst in the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, Norway
- Responsible editor and publisher of the Lucubrate Magazine, Global
- Project Manager of the Lucubrate Project, Global
- Chairman of Board of Directors of Nobel Knowledge Building, Uganda
- Chairman of Board of Directors of Norsk Kompetansebygging AS, a Consultancy company, Norway
- Member of the Board of Directors of Norwegian International Development Company AS, Norway

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