Introducing FutureStory on BTZ

This will be the first in a continuing sequence of posts here on BTZ about FutureStory, a government initiative from the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) which connects businesses to schools to help make young people wake up to the opportunities, rather than the threats, of globalization.   Caroline Teunissen called me and Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, and a number of other interested bloggers in to help promote the topic.  Caroline introduced me to Lucy Parker, head of Talent and Enterprise Taskforce, who is spearheading the initiative in conjunction with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

So why did I think this is important? Why did I want to get involved?  As we progress in to the 21st century, we live at a time of astonishing extremes and rapid change.   Globalisation, climate change, the explosion of advanced technologies and what some would call a broken education system here in the West have come together to make a perfect storm of complexity.  FutureStory directly addresses two of these components.  Globalization is a fact of life to be dealt with.  Although we hear many stories of losing jobs and manufacturing capacity from the UK to lower cost producers in India or China, there are just as many good news stories of local companies, large and small, using technology and innovation to  compete on the World stage.  Too often for young people, globalization is spoken of in terms that are too abstract for them to think it means anything to them.  When it is raised, it is usually as a threat to the jobs market and their future livelihood because of some factory closure.  FutureStory aims to bring globalization to life by focusing on real stories of successful, local businesses who are going global or local research establishments that are doing world class development and innovation.  The key message is that you can see positive examples of globalization in your town or city all over this country.  

We have an education system based on a 19th century design which catered for the industrial revolution, but we're actually living in the information age and a digital revolution.  It seems to me that our education system is focusing too much energy and resource on the quantity of graduates we produce and that isn't the answer.  India, China or Brazil can (and does) produce more graduates than we do, often just as well, and certainly at much lower cost.  If we really are going to compete as a country then we have to think differently and focus on the something that the UK has always been good at - invention and innovation.  But one of the challenges for the education system is that things are changing so rapidly, probably half of the jobs people will be doing in 10 years time don't exist today.  How can you plan for that?  For me one of the keys to the answer is creativity, and the successful companies are doing something clever and unique, rather than cheaper and faster.

FutureStory has started with a series of six books focusing on the cities and regions of Newcastle and the North East, Southampton, Derby and the East Midlands, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow.  Each book is made up of a collection of stories with accompanying video (see Newcastle snippet above, go here for the Newcastle video) which help bring alive how globalisation is already with us, in our midst, changing the workplace, the jobs we do, the way we live and the cities we live in.  Yesterday the website was launched at http://futurestory.enterpriseuk.org.  You can download the books and watch the videos, and there's even a place where you can begin to build the FutureStory of your own town or city.  There will be a programme of events, a competition for schools, and teaching materials which will be linked in to the standard curriculum.  Anything that connects schools and colleges to local businesses has merit.  The objective of FutureStory is to help prepare young people for what lies ahead and to unlock their talent, and that has to be good.

My post describing the official launch of FutureStory in Durham coming soon.