The Future of HRD: Scenarios of Possibility

International Journal of HRD Practice, Policy and Research 2017, Vol 2 No 2: 71-82
doi: 10.22324/ijhrdppr.2.117

Jeff Gold, York and Leeds Business Schools

Across Europe and beyond, there is a sense that we are in the midst of a fundamental shift or change unlike anything we have experienced before and we did not see enough of it coming. As a consequence, HRD and learning and development professionals risk joining the growing ranks of those who have been left behind. Schwab (2016) refers to what he sees as a “profound shift” (p. 1) as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where a confluence of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things provide a capability for transformation for generations to come but much disruption, unpredictability and future surprises.
For many, and the HRD community and profession might be included, the track of globalization and neo-liberal capitalism, with all its faults, has not yet run its full course. As it does, combined with the advances in technology, it will continue to engender divisions and inequality. As a recent World Economic Forum gathering at Davos found, there was a growing distrust of government, companies and the media, based on a belief of a failing economic and political system. Next in line for an algorithmic/robotized attack might well be skilled and intelligent service staff and professionals, including those in HRD. Left to global forces, the expansion of low paid and low skilled work is likely to become more pronounced leading to uncomfortable political and social disruption (Brexit and Trumpism may be just the start).