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Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way
WEB MAGAZINE - June 2019

How to create a bioeconomy revolution





According to the World Economic Forum, increased transparency, new customer expectations, and emerging technologies are new indicators of corporate competitiveness. Furthermore, the International Data Corporation predicts that by 2021, at least 50% of global GDP will be digitalised. As our economy undergoes a complete change, I believe that educators should partner up with companies to start a bioeconomic revolution.


Focus on bioeconomy in the educational system

Companies are in a new situation where they must adapt to emerging trends, such as more ecology-focused business models. In order to facilitate this shift, they need employees with the right skillsets. This is where our educational system comes into play, as students need to be taught the approaches to a bioeconomy and prepare them for a future with increasingly disrupted markets.

Educators should teach students how to implement the bioeconomy and, as the digital disruption is happening fast, businesses could collaborate with educational institutions to ensure that students are best prepared to meet the needs of the market.

In a recent report by the World Economic Forum, it was made clear that most children entering primary school today will eventually work in occupations that do not even exist yet. As digital trends like artificial intelligence, automation, and digitalisation mature and eliminate many of today’s tasks in workplaces, we must also find new occupations for future workers. These could be found in emerging sectors such as the bioeconomy, which is strongly supported by digitalisation. Here, it is important to emphasise that the disruptive trends are also calling for new skills outside the technology sector. These skills should be carefully defined by educators and businesses together. Ensuring that the future workforce has the right skills and mindsets will be a key change in the way we innovate our societies and transition towards a bioeconomy.


Educators need to teach action, not just knowledge

According to McKinsey, sixty percent of employers say that new graduates are not adequately prepared for the current labour market. Arguably, educators have the obligation to rethink the educational system, and implement ways to teach students how to take action and give them tangible skills more appropriate for their part as the future workforce. Knowledge is what educational institutions have traditionally taught, but there is a need to go beyond that if businesses are to get the skilled employees they need to help them transition towards the bioeconomy.

I think we can learn from the dual education system in Germany, which is currently applied in vocational schools in some parts of Europe. In these schools, the students are taught the latest theory and techniques in school on some days, while working in companies on other days. When in companies, they are seen as an asset, as they can bring new ideas and technologies that they have been taught in school.


Lifelong learning the key to getting everyone onboard

Education is not only about teaching young people the right skills. We do not have the time to wait for current students to became managers. The most important thing is the individual’s willingness to acquire new knowledge and learn new skills. Through lifelong learning, the implementation of bioeconomic solutions in a disruptive world should also target the generations that are currently part of the workforce. This would have the added benefit of allowing older generations to stay competitive in a job market calling for new skills. Lifelong learning means that we never finish developing new skills, and that we continue learning throughout our lives.

If businesses and educators could cooperate on teaching skills rather than only knowledge, and do so throughout life, I believe that we can build a new education system. This system will be well suited to teaching skills in the field of bioeconomy, while addressing digital disruptions. By applying a ‘bioeconomy first’ approach, we could transition our world through businesses to rapidly get started on a bioeconomy revolution.