2016 was the year of news which no one could have guessed, so perhaps the RPC trainees have taken on the impossible with “predictions” for 2017! This year will see life-changing decisions made on both sides of the Atlantic come to a head: Trump was sworn in on 20 January and the UK will begin the process of untangling itself from the EU in March. These events, amongst others, will surely make for another rollercoaster of a year, so read on to see what else we think might happen over the next 12 months.
The majority of trainee responses predicted that the High Court judgment would be upheld by the Supreme Court - and they were correct! As a consequence, the trainees suspect that Article 50 will be triggered in the first half of 2017. Interestingly, no trainee response foresaw another UK general election.
As for Nigel Farage's next move… if trainee predictions are accurate then this year will see him take the lead in his own movie (Bad Boys of Brexit: The Movie), host a reality TV programme (Keeping Up With Farage), reprise his role as Leader of UKIP and become the UK Ambassador to the US.
If 2016 has taught us anything, it's the unpredictability of Donald J. Trump; never known to shy away from a challenge, the trainees have divined Trump’s likely successes and failures in 2017. Those who imagine success see it on the domestic front, with potential bolstering of US business due to an emphasis on home-grown economy. Some fear this will be achieved at the expense of immigration, or perhaps by continuing to threaten multinational companies via Twitter – behaviour which signals his biggest expected failing: public provocation against any perceived criticism. As entertaining as his social media policy may be, the trainees are concerned that it may have serious repercussions on an international level. For example, it may put the US at risk of alienation or, in the most extreme prognostication, global conflict.
Legal and Business:
We answered almost unanimously when it came to our expectations of the FTSE index over 2017. In light of the uncertainty surrounding European and American politics, the trainees forecast economic prospects with varying degrees of pessimism: "going nowhere", "…down, down, down", and "sickening". The (few) optimists amongst us suggest that there is a hope of growth, provided that Trump behaves in the White House.
Our prognosis of the legal landscape is less consistent. Everyone is agreed that the Article 50 decision, the moment of Brexit itself, and increased confidence in technology will have significant ramifications. However, whilst some of us see these changes as threats to our profession, others perceive them as opportunities.
Three key strands emerged in trainees' predictions for the next big thing in tech in 2017: artificial intelligence (AI); digital assistants; and cyber-security.
The majority of respondents predict that developments in the world of AI and machine learning would feature prominently in 2017. Some predict increased integration of digital assistants into our lives whilst others speculate that this year mobile phones will be developed which will be able to predict how you'd use an app or respond to a text by using repetitive behavioural analysis.
Another big theme was cyber-security. This is particularly topical at a time when high-profile data breaches are rarely out of the news and as companies are gearing up for the entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018 which will bring significantly greater economic sanctions for companies which don't have sufficient cyber-security mechanisms in place. Watch this space!
To those with a sweet tooth beware - it’s not looking to be a tasty start to 2017, with trainees predicting the next trendy things to eat as "veg ice-cream", "cockroach milk" (yes, that is a real thing!) or "some sort of new seed". Whilst it seems we're all relentlessly sticking to our New Year resolutions for now, for those who aren’t interested in a superfood lifestyle (or those that topple into that category after January is over), you will be happy to hear that the majority of trainees have predicted a new baking show will be replacing GBBO on the BBC at prime time, with many hoping the cast will feature some familiar GBBO faces. Failing that, trainees are optimistic that the 'Beeb' will be keen to introduce a feel-good programme - "perhaps involving cute animals (a la Planet Earth) or family fun (a la Michael McIntyre's Big Show)".
In the sporting world we've played it safe, with most trainees predicting that Chelsea will continue their title campaign all the way to Premier League victory. One hopeful trainee is keen to see Middlesbrough pull off a Leicester-style fairy tale (although the fact that they are currently trailing the title leaders by more than 30 points mean this may have to wait until next season). Other responses included Liverpool, City and Manchester United. Despite currently sitting second in the table, Tottenham didn't receive any backing for the top spot, suggesting that trainees aren't optimistic that Spurs' history of unlucky season finishes is going to change this year.
By the RPC Trainees