Five factors that will shape your life in Europe in the 2020s

If the second decade of the 21st century demonstrated anything, it's that we live in an age of constant change.

Five factors that will shape your life in Europe in the 2020s

From the Trump presidency to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve almost come to expect the unexpected. However, there are some significant global trends that, it’s safe to say, will shape the next decade.

Together with online learning expert GetSmarter, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), we look at five of the factors that will influence the professional and personal lives of international workers in Europe over the next ten years. 

Gain an understanding of the world in the coming decade, in just eight weeks online with LSE and GetSmarter

1. Populism and economic nationalism. Donald Trump was only the most prominent manifestation of a populist surge in the second half of the last decade that afflicted many Western democracies. It was driven by disenchantment with globalisation and seemingly detached elites or technocrats.

The recent war of words between Germany and Hungary, over anti-LGBTIQ legislation, and the ensuing, very public demonstrations of support by many German sporting clubs, is only a glimpse of the ‘culture wars’ that seem to dominate the politics of central Europe in the next decade. 

Political turmoil, fanned by state and extra-state actors, may become more normalised, and that has implications for where you choose to live or take a job.

2. Cybersecurity. As more and more of our lives move online, powerful corporations handle our data and digital networks are exposed to criminal and extremist groups. What are the long-term consequences of the digital economy? How will privacy and cybersecurity concerns be addressed, such as those raised by the European Union, and who will control the new digital monopolies?

An example of how one of these issues may impact international workers in Europe is the recent ransomware attack on Swedish supermarkets, which not only saw shoppers unable to buy goods, but the entire business crippled for a number of days, costing millions of dollars in lost revenue and additional costs. 

As a benefit, however, IT specialists in cybersecurity will become more sought after, and many will need to be trained to meet the demands of corporations on the ground.

Enrol by October 5th in the Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course from LSE and GetSmarter to help you navigate the next decade

3. Brexit. It’s been five years since the United Kingdom voted to separate from the European Union, and despite half a decade of negotiations and diplomatic wrangling, tensions are still very much alive between the EU and its neighbour.

Aside from the very obvious changes to the way that many live and work in Europe, many smaller businesses are finding it impossible to ship goods, or provide services to the UK, due to spiralling freight costs, or lack of clarity about trade agreements. For many international workers in Europe, this has implications for businesses and employment – Britain may not maintain the market status it once did. 

Pic: The Local Creative Studio

4. US Elections. The 2024 US Presidential Election, and the midterms before that, will be a test to determine whether Trumpism was an anomaly, or remains an unpredictable, destabilising force in American politics for years to come.

On this side of the Atlantic, we’ve seen that the American isolationism of the previous administration has been replaced with a more cooperative approach and a military presence that is stabilising, if not increasing. For those who work in Europe as defence contractors, or with firms that do business with the military, there are more opportunities for growth after a period of stagnation. For serving personnel, they may find that their time in Europe is extended, with more opportunities to experience life in other nation

5. Climate change. The COP26 summit in Glasgow later this year will be a defining moment in the struggle against climate change. The United States and China, but also other major emitters, will need to make bigger global efforts after five years to implement the Paris Climate Agreement.

While you may be asked to use new power sources, or technologies with better energy efficiency, Europe is already being impacted by hotter summers and wetter winters, changing the way many work and go on holiday – something that you will have to get used to in the long term. 

Stay ahead of the curve. If you’re an international resident or your career requires an understanding of major global issues, it can be hard work keeping informed of these massive changes.

The Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course from the London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with GetSmarter, explores some of the significant global trends that will define the decade, and have very real consequences for business and society.

Flexible, online learning designed by leading LSE academics enables anyone to develop the skills needed to think critically and make informed decisions during times of change and uncertainty.

Embrace change: enrol by October 5th in LSE and GetSmarter’s eight-week Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course

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Referendum: Why are the Swiss voting on nursing conditions?

Swiss voters will cast their ballots on November 28th on a proposal to improve working conditions for nurses. This is what’s at stake.

Swiss hospitals are short-staffed and nurses are overworked.
The upcoming referendum will focus on improving working conditions of nurses. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The Covid-19 pandemic has shed light on a crucial role nurses and other medical professionals play not only in managing a health crisis, but also the more mundane but nevertheless essential tasks involved in patient care.

But according to the Swiss Association of Nurses, which launched the so-called ‘nursing care initiative’, more must be done to improve health employees’ work conditions and maintain high-quality nursing care.

What is the proposal calling for?

At the centre of the initiative is the shortage of nurses in Switzerland.

About 10,000 caregivers are needed urgently right now, with additional 70,500 needed within the next eight years, said Rebecca Spirig, Director of Nursing at the University Hospital in Zurich.

“As it is, the situation is untenable”, she added.

And because there are not enough caregivers, the existing personnel is working longer hours, resulting in increased workloads and exhaustion, which cause many nurses to quit their jobs.

That, in turn, creates even more shortages and a vicious circle that, the association says, must be broken.

To achieve this, the initiative is calling mainly for sufficient nursing staff to ensure the quality of patient care, as well as training of more caregivers to relieve the pressure on the health personnel and avoid burnouts and dropouts in the profession.

Another benefit of training more nurses is that Switzerland will rely less on foreign workers. At Geneva’s university hospital (HUG), for instance, 60 percent of medical personnel are cross-border workers from France.

“Without foreign employees, our healthcare system would no longer function. This great dependency is problematic. It is imperative that we train more nurses domestically”, Spirig said.

READ MORE: How do nurses’ salaries in Switzerland compare to the rest of the world?

The government is against the proposal — this is why

The Federal Council and parliament believe that this initiative is too extreme and goes too far, especially with regard to the government role in regulating working conditions and wages.

Authorities have created their own counter-project, proposing to invest up to 1 billion francs over eight years to train more caregivers.

The counter-proposal will come into force if the original initiative is rejected by voters.

Which of the two proposals — the nursing association’s or the government’s — is more likely to pass?

Latest polls show the former is the more likely winner.

The one carried out by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation shows that 78 percent of voters support the nurses’ version.

A nearly the same result — 77 percent — is reported by another recent poll, conducted by Tamedia media group.

READ MORE: What’s at stake in Switzerland’s Covid referendum on November 28th?