Insightful, engaging, thought provoking and future thinking. These would best describe the Barker’s Institute Economic Forum held on the evening of 17 June 2019.
Using a 'Q & A' format and facilitated by the school’s economic coordinator Joshua Toth, an audience of some 120, were treated to an engaging 80 minutes of contemporary economic thoughts and musings by Joanne Masters, the Chief Economist at the international firm EY Oceania Region and Lea Jurkovic, a Graduate Economist with the Reserve Bank of Australia. Jo is a current parent and Lea is a past student of the school.
The ensuing discussions and questions addressed a myriad of contemporary macroeconomic issues including monetary and fiscal policies. In particular, great interest was shown in the recent impact of the RBA’s interest rates policy change and the consequences for the economy. The question was posed, was it good or bad? It depends, was the repost. As with all economic policies, it raises a set of possibilities and a set of imponderables determined by a series of assumptions; ceteris parabis. Got to love the social sciences!
What was of great interest was the issue of financial literacy. The context of such a discussion was set against the issues of housing affordability and long term individual financial security raised in the HILDA report. Both Jo and Lea were concerned because of a seemingly lack of knowledge and financial acumen in the wider community. Of greater concern, was the lack of financial literacy, particularly regarding women of all ages. That led to a discussion as to why this lifelong literacy is not seen as a community imperative and not being addressed in any formal educational sense.
Finally, the need to foster people’s capabilities. Both women urged those present to look beyond skills as solely prerequisites for success, but to cultivate 21st century capabilities like problem solving, communication, or creative and critical thinking because they trump knowledge in some many ways. These are the passports to being an engaged, saleable and a valued citizen in Australian workplaces and the community in general.