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The world is experiencing significant, largely economic and sociotechnical, induced change. These induced changes are meaningful with a function of people taking collective actions around common beliefs. These changes are more than jargon, cliché, and hyperbole, and they are effecting major transformations. These transformations will impact on how human resources are developed, and we need to be able to forecast its effects. In order to produce such forecasts, Human Resource Development needs to become more predictive - to develop the ability to understand how human capital systems and organizations will behave in future. As part of a multi-phase, mixed methods study design based on systems and complexity theories to identify skill needs for the emerging agrifood nanotechnology sector, a strategic flexibility analysis (SFA) was conducted. Strategic Flexibility Framework (SFF) is a scenario analysis tool and its use in this study is based on the idea that Business Leaders, Managers, Educators and Human Resource Development professionals require flexibility to adjust decisions within given constraints. This paper describes the use of strategic flexibility analysis and the qualitative systems approaches as tools for systems research and it implications for human resources development and management.
The strategic flexibility analysis of the results of this study bring out the important policies and programmatic intervention points that can serve as leverage points for increasing the likelihood of preventing skill gaps and shortages in the agrifood sector. The broad scheme for dynamism of systems and the results of this study would perhaps provide some leads and ideas for future study to fill data gaps. Although the goal of the SFA was not the accurate quantitative estimation of forecasting for future skill needs in agrifood nanotechnology, it enhances the understanding of the mechanism of skill needs identification in agrifood nanotechnology as a system. The SFA can be adapted to suit several purposes including curriculum development, educational policy formulation, skill needs identification and related issues to properly understand the interrelationships and what may be unintended consequences of policy implementation.