2019 is going to be a year of profound change for all citizens of the world, given what turbulent times we live in.
As things stand, we are due to leave the EU on 29 March this year, after 46 years of membership. Whatever one’s view of Brexit, I don’t think many people still believe that it is going to be a smooth or painless transition. Meanwhile, all the other huge problems that we have to deal with remain unsolved.
The difficulties ahead
From the impact of climate change and our housing crisis, to the funding of the NHS and the consequences of AI in employment, there is no end of challenges that we need to address. In almost every country I can think of, things seem to be in a state of flux, with the certainties of the past disappearing at a faster rate than the Amazon rain forest.
In this rapidly changing scene, one thing remains resolutely the same: our failure to prepare adequately every young person in the country to meet the challenges they will all face, in building a stable, solvent and independent life. They need a properly planned programme of financial life-skills education, yet our current delivery is pitiful and piecemeal.
The one thing that unites every young person and every family is the universal challenge to get a job, fund their life, save and spend wisely, acquire a safe place to live and take part in society as an active citizen. And, as part of this, they also need to understand the wider social consequences of the decisions they make.
No one is exempt from this, and yet we currently do nothing to ensure that all of our young people are properly prepared to achieve the very best they can; it really is a crying shame.
To meet the tremendous challenges of the coming decades, we will need active, well-informed citizens who understand how our system works. They will need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to make the right decisions, both for themselves and their families, and for the wider community.
These active, independent citizens will not magically emerge; we need to cultivate them through education – which we do in every other possible way – and we need to start that process now. By doing so, we can make 2019 the start of a national transformation.