Storytelling leads the way for inclusive policy design
Gayathri Shukla: “Storytelling remains one of the most powerful tools available to ask questions, learn from diverse voices and clarify our shared values”Thursday March 16, 2023
During the Kroeger Policy Connect workshop on March 1, students and the PPF policy team explored potential outcomes in a scenario where post-secondary education — as currently provided by colleges and universities — no longer exists. Scenarios that stretch the imagination are an effective means to get people to accept and plan for different futures. Participants must work backwards to plan for this new scenario, driving a storytelling process that makes the scenario seem more realistic.
‘Planning in reverse’ requires us to stretch our thinking. To prepare for unexpected circumstances in the future of work, policy-makers will need to do just that. Engaging people who might have the potential to see things differently can help.
Using foresight scenario planning with students within a short time frame (three hours) allowed for quick, structured idea generation. Students’ own experience in the post-secondary system, coupled with their imagination, resulted in some interesting ideas.
Strategic foresight is the systematic examination of potential threats, opportunities and likely developments at the margins of current thinking and planning. Foresight tools are useful because we can’t always expect to extrapolate from historical trends, especially when planning for issues as complex and dynamic as the future of work.
The changing nature of work will be influenced by a complex web of interacting mega-trends — demographic shifts, technological changes, social and political evolutions, and environmental changes. PPF doesn’t intend to predict the jobs, skills, and employment prospects of the future with precision. To adapt to and benefit from these changes, Canada will need a flexible, precautionary policy approach that can deal with a wide range of scenarios, large-scale changes and previously unimaginable pathways forward.
The students in this workshop were neither surprised nor worried about a future where the post-secondary system as it currently exists is completely disrupted and transformed. In fact, the students shared personal experiences in which prospective employers had downplayed the significance of academic credentials as a prerequisite of employment. They seemed comfortable with a future in which post-secondary education is less relevant.
When asked to describe what a future without post-secondary education might look like, and to identify its potential challenges and new opportunities, the students articulated a few outcomes:
As a convener in the policy process, PPF is grateful for the chance to learn from students who participated in the foresight workshop. While the insights generated are not a prediction of the future, they will help inform our own ongoing research and reinforce the value of engaging young people and non-specialists in scenario development and testing.
Thanks to the Kimiya Project Lab and Kroeger College for connecting the Public Policy Forum with students through the Kroeger Policy Connect program.
Brave New Work is a major multi-year initiative by the Public Policy Forum, with the support of the following sponsors and partners: