International Journal of HRD Practice, Policy and Research 2018, Vol 3 No 2: Online
doi: 10.22324/ijhrdppr.3.113

What Will be the Surprises for HRD in 2028? A Futures Scenario

Tricia Harrison, Liverpool John Moores University
Lynn Nichol, Worcester University
Mark Gatto, Northumbria University
Mak Chee Wai, Western Digital
Andrew Cox, Portsmouth University
Jeff Gold, York and Leeds Business Schools

The paper reports findings from a futures workshop to consider surprises — unexpected or astonishing events or facts — that may await HRD. Participants were asked to identify an HRD issue for the future and then pose questions that placed surprise up front and that could indicate a vulnerability for HRD. Two scenarios are developed for the year 2028 and events leading to this year. In the first, S1, human behaviour within organizations is defined by machines and machines prescribe why, what and where work is needed, who does it, when, and how work is done. Thus programmes of learning are pre-determined by machines. In the second, S2, aritificial intelligence proves to be incapable of adapting to the extreme events of solar activity affecting satellites and internet communications globally. HRD rebuilds trust in the collective human ability to work together collaboratively to restore a team ethic and rebuild. The scenarios are discussed and a recommendation is made for HRD research to consider the direction and value of their work and how progress in academic life might be reconstituted to allow more attention to be given to key areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence.