A theme has emerged over the last few weeks, both within the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation’s own granting and externally regarding future employment opportunities.

Yesterday I listened to a wonderful report on the Social Enterprise Academy that is being piloted by the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) in North East Victoria. ACRE holds the Australian licence for this Scottish model, which is proving very successful in engaging young people in learning about social entrepreneurship through student led, project based learning. Our Foundation was the first funder of this program and it has been wonderful to see other Foundations coming on board to expand the program and strengthen the evaluation. I can’t wait to see where this goes from here!

Late last week I attended the Law Institute of Victoria’s (LIV) continuing professional development conference wearing two hats. Firstly I was getting some CPD points (!) and secondly, the Foundation was a sponsor of the Succession Law stream as part of our strategy to grow a culture of philanthropy in Melbourne, particularly through bequests. I was able to speak briefly about some of the wonderful bequests the Foundation has received – including from the late Arthur Martin whose bequest is helping to support the Foundation’s Food Security work and the Eye and Ear Hospital’s new Education Centre for community and professional learning – which will include cutting edge online and digital technology.

The other fascinating LIV session was about future proofing the legal profession. Like all other industries, law firms are facing disruptive technologies. The presenter spoke about clients’ growing interest to use online advice services, including some emerging services in the US that use Artificial Intelligence. Other people are grouping together to crowdfund the purchase of legal advice to shared problems. 

So where does that leave younger people looking for insights into the jobs of the future? Professor Yong Zhao from the University of Oregon made some suggestions at a recent presentation hosted by the Mitchell Institute at the State Library. He spoke about the opportunities in developing human potential that must be grabbed. Across the world there is a crisis in youth unemployment.  We must reconceive the work of the future.  With new technology doing mechanical and routine work, Prof Zhao asked: what of all the human intelligences will be most valued in the future? In this context, Prof Zhao was talking about our “multiple intelligences”, which are unique for each individual. These include: musical intelligence, bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, spatial intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, naturalist intelligence (Garner H, 2011). Prof Zhao argues that now is the time when human diversity is of even more value than ever before. “We must not send a human to do a machine’s job.” Prof Zhao advocates for a future of education which is student driven; provides authentic products, services of value; applies learning on a global scale; and gives opportunities to learn with and for others.

Which brings me to the Café Culture course that a young person I know well has been doing this week at school. He has learned that businesses fail and that the customer is always right(!). He has been on site visits to cafés, heard from café owners, worked in a team to design and plan a café from the ground up, budgeted, cooked, and then waited on real customers in the pop-up “90 Degree” café that his team created! Interestingly, the best-selling part of the café business seems to have been the online ordering service! The net proceeds of the café are going to support a community education project that the students have chosen. A pop-up business for a social purpose!

Social enterprise, creativity, digital transformation – there is a lot of potential if we can make the transition.

Catherine Brown


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