The need for mobile individuals

Part of the New Guinea Commerce Winners Don’t Cheat Series.

By Sean Jacobs

‘He is as comfortable in a church pulpit,’ observed Bill Clinton’s adviser Stanley Greenberg, ‘as in a Wall Street conference room.’

Politics aside, Greenberg’s description of the former American President is instructive for the kind of individuals we’ll increasingly need in Australia. Australia’s social and economic trajectory demands young people who can acquire portable skills, generate strong networks and produce outcomes across sectors.

One of the most lethal developments to a society over the long run, and indeed a nation, is when people are rarely reaching out, interacting or speaking to each other. Our leaders, for example, often talk about ‘social cohesion’ in the same breath as economic growth because, quite simply, it’s as important. For a nation to work its individuals must ultimately share values.

However, despite advances in social media and the opportunities to ‘connect’, the capacity to live atomised lives, where people stay in their closed groups, is actually easier than ever. ‘Organisational membership is down,’ records the Australian Andrew Leigh. ‘We are less likely to attend church. Political parties and unions are bleeding members. Sporting participation and cultural attendance is down. We have fewer friends and are less connected with our neighbours.’

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