E. Rusanen

Aalto University (FINLAND)
Time is an infrastructure which we take for granted but still our society couldn’t function without it. Many so-called natural time scales such as seven day weeks, deadlines and distinction between work- and free-time shape our lives. This paper approaches time through concepts of continuity and discontinuity which are dimensions of time. Authors from social sciences have mentioned that even if time is essential part of our daily interactions it is still not fundamental part of social theories. For this reason the aim of this paper is to present how different these models of educational planning share various time conceptions. I consider how these current analyses about future competence needs have been made. What are temporal assumptions behind them? After all, if models of identification of future competences are based on unsustainable and irrelevant assumptions, their results are also irrelevant. This paper connects sociology of time, philosophy of continuity, futures studies methodology and educational policy together.

Models of identification of future competences can be classified into three disciplines which –based on my literature review- share various time conceptions. First discipline, forecasting skill demand and supply, has adopted a linear conception of time. Herewith all developments have beginning, middle and ending. Continuity plays an important role here. Some authors are even referring to irreversibility of time. Challenge is to avoid errors caused by discontinuities. Next discipline, anticipation, has traditionally been based on historical patterns but recent studies suggest discontinuity, surprise and novelty of future. In these models continuity is a tool for governing because it makes possible to create the future. Discontinuity and continuity can be non-linear as well. The last discipline, foresight, assumes multi-leveled time which means that history, presence and future together create the phenomenon of time. In this context continuity makes planning and decision-making possible and discontinuity requires novel futures studies methods.

To summarize, disciplines of forecasting, anticipation and foresight share different time conceptions. In order to create a holistic view of futures, these various time conceptions are needed. This is still not enough if we aim to create theories and analyses which really describe educational landscape. In order to do that these temporal boundaries should be connected to spatial boundaries. It is essential to evaluate what kind of time conception is relevant within specific people, organization or situation. Forecasting models and linear time conception are sustainable when aim is to identify how one specific trend affects on skill needs within one profession. Anticipation models are relevant, when aim is to consider how one change affects on competence needs within one organization or cluster. Foresight models and multi-leveled time conception are sustainable when aim is to study how changes in system affect on competence needs within different fields. Together these temporal and spatial boundaries describe sustainable context of disciplines of forecasting, anticipation and foresight.