The Importance of Learning – Best in 2022

It’s a pleasure to be here. Today I’m going to talk about investment decision of our life. I’m going to talk about the most important choice of our life. Now, what is the single most important investment decision in your life? maybe my answer is education and investment. In your life probably the most important and the most useful decision is education. 

Okay, now let’s do a quick poll about it. Now, how many of you are in a profession that you studied for in your first undergraduate degree? Your first bachelor’s? roughly a half or a bit less right? more or less. According to hard data of the last year 43% of people in our country do not work in the profession they studied for. Does that make them a failure? Yanis Holsteins Gordon Gora is a musician, but he didn’t get a musical training properly. Well I got a music education but I’m not a musician. Does that make us both a failure? 

Probably not, Now the question we’re going to explore today is how do we make this decision? how do we make the choice? how should we approach the problem? Okay now, thereCs one option less than two others. A popular one is, you could actually call it differently, I think that is the typical way of calling. This is the right common sense, aka listening to what others say, listening to what the experience has been, what their information is about, what you should do now, some examples of common sense. You might hear this from your parents, from teachers, from your peers, from people you study with now, ‘learn a good profession and you’re set for life’. Probably it’s still true. I mean we still need dentists, we still need lawyers and all sorts of professional lives.

Still be true to that respect. Now, be good at something, not everything folk. Yes but we’re gonna talk a bit more about that if you’re very focused there are certain consequences to that. We have only one lifetime and one career. How real is this yesterday as I was coming in at the Opera or the Opera House through the back door. I met a lady and she still remembers me working here 12 years ago. She’s still there. I’ve had three professions in the meantime. I guess that depends right there’s no one answer for everyone. So, how could other people’s information be so much useful to you. 

Okay, let’s see at the date again, now this is the comparison of future occupation preferences among high school students in Latvia 50 years in between 1965 to 2015. Stare at it for a second okay. I’ve done it easier for you. So, doctors and pilots and engineears and defences and creative professions like artists and writers shall recount the remarkable resilience. 

I understand about movie stars and doctors, of course pilots is cool, I mean all the sexy uniforms you get to fly big planes. Not that we need many pilots really but that’s kind of clear now I’m actually bit worried about these people here. We badly need them these days. So, they were popular in 1965. They’re firmly gone, engineers and scientists are firmly gone from the top choices in 2011. That’s a problem now. Another interesting thing is that these days we have still popularity of lawyers fund and Sears PR people. Nothing wrong with that but I guess we have produced far too many of these in the last 20 years. Anyway, still young people’s choices their dream as the occupation. Now, reflect that old information. This is not very useful. We will see you could do what your heart tells you to do, instead of replicating other people’s choices. Of course you could try and predict the future with any information you’ve got. You could try look ahead, you could try to extrapolate the past experience and predict what’s gonna happen. 

I mean, I already said engineers are good. I mean if you want to become an engineer and it’s good for you and you like it. You are probably going to be set for life. It’s a good one, but surely become an engineer because it is expected that we’ll need engineers, then it is not for you. Let’s see if you try and predict the main sectors of an economy and make it out. Where should you invest? Of course in your education. But it’s hardly very easy to do. Now see what has happened to agriculture. It’s gone down but it’s not such a long period of time that it’s gone down dramatically. Where is it not gonna go much further.

Manufacturing well decrease substantially given what I know as a Minister of Economy. About economic policy of our country where we are going, we’re probably going to see more employment in manufacturing in the future but not dramatically more certainly not as much as in 1985. Now, what really worries me in this slide is the other. What is the other? That’s everything else that’s where the growth is. That’s where the creativity is, that’s all the services sectors, that’s where the ICTs are clean tech, green tech whatever tech but all of these things are in this one aggregate other and this would be so complicated. 

Now, to tell what is going to happen what specific skill sets you might need, what profession you might be in, It is not such an easy task to look at. The past data and predict with what you know today what is going to happen some things you can’t predict but certainly not everything. What else can you do you can listen to yourself talk to yourself. Should you meditate on your future profession? not necessarily, but that is not a bad idea. I’m gonna encourage you to do so, but the important thing is to find out what is it that you really want, what is that you think you could be good at, what do you enjoy doing. I’m sure everybody has read or heard the Steve Jobs famous Stanford graduation speech right? So, basically what he did at a certain point in his education had no hope of practical use. At the time he did it, he just felt like doing it well. 

My jobs in moment came six years ago at Harvard, when I decided to take an energy class. Energy policy class with with John Holdren, who is now chief scientific advisor to Barack Obama. Now, there was no way of knowing for me at the time that today it’ll be half of my job content energy. Back then, with all the public administration leadership all sorts of other classes that I took, all the economic classes, energy wasn’t really an obvious one. So, you never know if you feel like it chances are. 

It’s going to be useful skill versus competence an old story. Isn’t it skills are have been and will be certainly useful now, but which should you invest in? skills or broader competence? We heard about importance of philosophy porters of humanities. Could it be that broader competences? Could it actually be the way forward in an environment which we do not really predict? Okay skills are going to be important. Skills like analytical, skills like math might be useful to everyone to a certain degree but at the same time we clearly see that even in the professions which are a lifetime careers increasingly broad competences are very important. 

This is how you actually prepare yourself for various changes,this is blah blah blah . But let’s look at the data. This graph this analysis has been put together by a very interesting man. A professor handshake from Stanford University. I had a privilege of meeting with him this year at the Munich economic conference and he was talking about the different employment expectations which you might have given the general education or vocational education in your background. So, basically broader competence versus skill specific labor market related skill. So this shouldn’t come as a big surprise if you learn a trade or learn skill set which is specific enough you can easily get what you want. 

You have 80% chance of getting quickly employed. As you go out of school with general education, it’s much lower comes up gradually but look what happens towards the end of your career with a specific skill set. It declines matically towards the end of your life, towards the retirement period you are in. Actually much more likely not to have a job and it’s the vice versa for broader skill set. Well, I clearly agree I mean of course we need people in the professions but I guess the challenge here is for people who will get the skill sets early on to also learn to get a competence of learning in midlife to rearm themselves.

So, that’s the part of what policymakers really have to struggle with. There’s a lot of are various studies that indicate that about 40% of the jobs of tomorrow are as of yet unknown. We don’t know what they’re going to be like. So, there is massive uncertainty about what you should do today to become the next Steve Jobs.

Impossible to to tell that. Is that a problem? well probably not a famous professor Richards at Hauser from Harvard University has famously stated that, unknowable situations have been and will be associated with remarkably powerful investment returns. Do you think the gentleman who lent money to Mark Zuckerberg I think about 20,000$ and ended up with a couple of billion did you think he expected it to happen?

Maybe probably not, would you do it if you were asked by Mark to come back. Would you give him $20,000? You wouldn’t. Probably I wouldn’t either. Anyway, this is the power of unknown and that is also true about skills, about competencies, about choosing your education choices. So, what is the point of reference here, we come back to the fact that the only point of reference is really yourself. Chances are if you invest in yourself, invest wisely. You might be faced with massive returns. So, obviously as you think as you see.

I know I’m indicating that the first choice wasn’t really choice. Listening to others, the more you listen to others the more difficult it is to decide for yourself. So, there are really two choices investing into the known or investing into the unknown. One is related with probably lower risk probably also low well. Of course you might strike gold and predict everything and do something. That will probably happen such as technological breakthroughs etc. But in general, if you invest into the noun ,you have low risk low yield strategy, if you invest in unknown if you do it wisely, you don’t have to be blind, you have to listen to yourself. 

That’s probably high risk and a very high yield strategy. My recommendation is get yourself, you have to know how much risk you’re willing to take, you have to know how much peer group pressure you can take. People are going to talk to you and say that this is a foolish thing to do. In fact Richard Sipe Hauser said, “if you haven’t ever made an investment decision that looks like a foolish thing to do, you probably haven’t really utilized your potential identify and develop your skill with that” I agree.

What could that skill be? Well, I think my skill is probably whatever I do, NGO management or whatever it is whatever I’ve done in my past it’s communication. Actually I acquired a skill in early in life playing piano, not very practical I know. Being a minister is not very practical and economic policy but it has told me certain competences a sense of form. Spacing rhythm maybe patience and certainly ability to communicate to reach out to people get my message across in various ways. Another thing, get diverse experiences, you never know which experience is going to be useful with hindsight. They all are, whatever you’ve done, it has probably made you what you are today. So, you’ll need courage but if you want to do something that’s never been done before, there’s a long way. You have to do something that’s been never done before.

Thank you very much for reading my opinion about learning.