On January 13th, BraveNew participated in The Global Talent Summit 2016: The Future of Jobs & Education, part of the World in 2050 series, sponsored by The Diplomatic Courier at the Gallup Headquarters in Washington, D.C. BraveNew was a Thought Partner of the event. Representatives from the Fortune 500, global NGOs, the government and enterprises of all sizes spoke at and interacted with each other during the day long conference, which included panels on such topics as “The Global Skills Gap” and “Small Businesses and Job Creation.”
The primary takeaway for me was that the education portion of an individual’s life no longer exists exclusively from the age of 5 to 18 (or whenever the last degree is attained) and the full-time work portion from age 18 or 22 to retirement. Instead learning will be life long and the acquisition of skills for individuals will start well before the granting of degrees.
In addition, three themes ran through these panels, which should be of interest to those involved in the interface of the workforce and education.
The Increasing Importance of Jobs with a Purpose
Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, started the day with his keynote on The Coming Jobs War and noted the changing nature of the American Dream, based on Gallup’s studies. In the mid part of the last century, the Baby Boomers and their predecessors sought three things for a life of content: “Peace, Freedom, Family.” A job represented a paycheck. Now with the entrance of Millennials in the workforce, employees want more. They not only want a job, they want a job with purpose. Once it was “pay before purpose,” now it is “purpose before pay.”
But society is not there yet. Clifton stated that about 30 million US workers are engaged, 50 million are not and the remaining 20 million actively disengaged. That’s a major problem that will need to be solved on the journey toward 2050. Later in the day, Jon Clifton, Managing Director of Global Analytics at Gallup, in his talk on “Joblessness: The Real Number,” mentioned that globally when people are in jobs that they hate, they do worse in life than those who don’t have a job.
One possible solution that could be considered for scaling came from Joshua Marcuse, Senior Advisor for Policy Innovation at the U.S. Department of Defense in a panel on human capital. Marcuse noted that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, during a break from government service, spent time observing start-ups and more established technology companies in Silicon Valley. The innovative policies impressed him deeply. After his swearing-in last February, he launched the Force of the Future program, which aims to attract and retain the most desired talent to the Department of Defense. They have sought to increase engagement from thought managers to forklift operators. A number of key principles underpin the program: helping employees find a sense of purpose, achieve a sense of personal growth, craft an engagement experience, work for strong leadership and management, be assigned to appropriate positions and be understood through the use of data.
Is there a skills gap or an education and workplace gap?
Could bridging the chasm between educational institutions and the workplace solve the skills gap? Or does the role of arming the workforce with the correct skills lie exclusively with enterprise?
Brandon Busteed, the Executive Director of Gallup Education and Workforce Development, shared some fascinating insights and statistics to kickoff his panel. Globally there are more individuals with degrees than at any other time. And yet there is still a skills gap. The more educated an individual, the more likely he is to have a good job. Busteed also brought up a perception gap of preparation between universities and the professional world. In the US, 98% of provosts were “confident’ that their students were prepared for the workforce. Yet only 13% of those in the workforce and 11% of the C-Suite strongly agreed that workers had been properly prepared.
Busted then posited that there must be a collaboration between education and corporations to facilitate engagement and to better prepare workers with skills. He believes that two ingredients are critical to future employee engagement: jobs and internships and project based learning. The deeper the experience offered, the more meaningful the engagement.
Deloitte CIO Larry Quinlan challenged the perception of preparation as he argued that corporations could be “unreasonable” in their expectations. While he was actually very pleased with the product of many US universities, he did note the inconsistency in quality among them.
He agreed though with the need for building a strong bridge between the two worlds. Corporations must invest in educational institutions as a means to secure their future. He added that the investment must be more than monetary and include human interaction. He also spoke about the learning that goes on once individuals arrive at Deloitte with Deloitte University.
Edith Cecil, VP of the Institute for International Education, in the panel on “The Future of Learning” (which I also participated in) represented the non-profit world as she discussed her organization’s critical role in facilitating semesters abroad for students. From her vantage point, corporations must have a global education strategy for their workers, particularly their young ones. Overseas experiences provide an “edge” when looking for a job in this global economy. While 4.5 million students travel abroad annually, only 300,000 are US students. IIE has been working to increase that number and also facilitate travel to non-traditional places. She feels that we are moving from a “brain drain economy” (where residents would get educated in their home country and then leave for another) to a “brain circulation” one.
The Importance of Collaboration & Community in Fostering Job Creation and Engagement
Creating, joining and engaging in communities has been and will continue to be critical to the creation of jobs and to meaningful engagement in them.
Both Jim Clifton of Gallup and Suzanne Clark of the US Chamber of Commerce stressed the critical role of innovation in job creation in the US. And both stressed the tremendous challenges that face entrepreneurs with Clark detailing her personal thrilling but scary journey.
Yet startups and small businesses are critical to the US job landscape. Only 1,000 companies in the US employ 10,000 workers are more. We are a nation of startups and small businesses. Community and collaboration have fostered these enterprises in multiple ways.
Crystal Arredondo, Chair of National Board, National Association of Women Business Owners, detailed how collaboration had shepherded positive change in her community over the years. Thirty-six percent of small businesses in the US are women-owned. Her organization was founded in the mid-1970’s as a place for women in DC to network and share experiences with each other. The organization now has 60 chapters with over 5,000 members. As one of the founders said, “If you can’t get a seat at the table, then build your own table.” Over time, they participated in changing laws and policies making it easier for a woman to secure financial backing for their companies though it took until 1988 for all 50 states to allow a woman to receive a loan without a man’s signature.
Likewise, Suzanne Clark defined her organization as a “federation” that defends enterprise stressed the strengths as they tackle and lobby on such issues as trade, tax and policy. With 95% of customers for US business outside this country, no one small business can battle policy challenges alone.
In terms of community increasing professional engagement, I was able to discuss the power of online collaboration in knowledge sharing communities through my work at BraveNew. We are entering the age of Learning 3.0, where organizations are harnessing the intelligence of the workforce to create new and dynamic learning opportunities. In online communities, employees can surface knowledge and content to help them engage and solve their most pressing issues with like-minded peers.
Throughout the day, it was stressed that no one knows what the most critical issues in the workforce will be in 2050. The key is structuring a powerful and flexible framework that will be able to meet the challenges of the creation and fulfillment of meaningful jobs on a global scale at the mid-century point.
In an ironic twist, on the same day of the summit, GE announced that it was moving its headquarters to Boston from Connecticut. The press release and the subsequent news reports all stressed the same factors for this significant move: proximity to the area’s 55 colleges and universities, favorable government policies and the ability to join the community of technology companies in the Innovation District and Boston area. The move represents one step in closing the gap between education and corporate America as well as the potential power of community collaboration.
Jean McCormick is VP of Content at BraveNew