Four Ways Governments Can Start Addressing Global Goal #9

Written by +SocialGood Connector Ruben Cantu for the World Government Summit.

Fresh back from a trip to Dubai with all the sights and sounds and even with a quick dash to Abu Dhabi to visit the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, I am even more open, aware, and committed to looking for solutions both internationally and here locally back on the ground level. The old added sage is true, “we are all the same and we must accept that we’re all truly connected.”

Here are four areas that I believe will allow governments to truly be effective in addressing Global Goal #9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

I’ll discuss why it will take a hybrid approach to solve this issue and that solutions cannot evolve in silos. Leveraging government resources, public/private partnerships, young people, and our senior generation as mentors, we might employ an all hands on deck approach to reach our goal by the year 2030.

I must say I was profoundly influenced in a positive way from this trip, even more than I expected. It helped reaffirm what I have been observing here locally. It is that innovation truly happens when we allow different experiences, perspectives, and ideas to clash with one another. I was able to participate in the Sustainable Goals in Action breakout conference where I was clustered with some of the world’s top minds in this particular issue. We were able to brainstorm and come up with key elements needed for a solution.

We all agreed that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is rapidly going to disrupt industries, institutions, and governments across the board in an alarming rate. Within just the next five years we will see so much change from the automobile, mobile, housing, food and energy industries. Life as we know it will not be the same. However, we also agreed that the one thing that will remain constant in our world is the desire for purpose and meaning.

Up to this point in the history of our world, we have attributed our job and career as our purpose in life. We literally ask a person when we meet them, “What is your name and what is that you do?” It is standard, it is supposed to be our badge of honor for most. “I am an engineer, a doctor, a rock star!” Even the lackluster jobs that hold this economy together such as the steelworkers, assembly line techs, truck drivers, farmers and coal miners are proud to stand up and say that this is what they are because it is “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s living.”

However, today we are quickly realizing and finding out that as these jobs are being displaced by technology and automation that the ability to compete in tomorrow’s job market will be even more intense. While most would think and agree that a government’s job is to look out for the wellbeing and welfare of its people by helping provide jobs and a growing economy, this charter will soon be severely challenged.

What is a government to do when there simply is not enough jobs to fill in the market? What happens when jobs are now so specialized that they require an intense level of study and training? It historically has had three options;

1) steal jobs from other municipalities and countries,

2) it can create more “inspector regulatory” government jobs,

3) it can ask companies to operate inefficiently in order to receive bigger tax breaks and keep people employed at the cost of society’s future well-being.

All these old tricks have not truly solved the issue. So it can keep on that track or it can step out in front of the issue. It can help innovate from within! By embracing science, technology, and innovation as tools for growth in industry and infrastructure!

These are the four areas it can invest to ensure a better transition into a new economy.

Here is how.

First, it can start by working closely in developing public-private partnerships (P3). This tool is not used nearly enough, often because both public and private sectors have become so polarized against one another that they don’t talk to each other. Governments can start understanding that while it can force its heavy hand through regulation, government works best when it is able to bring the right people to the table to create deals and foster trust in the system. Knowing that government can force its hand but chooses not to and instead leverage its good will often end up proving more beneficial for all involved.

Alongside this, it can start a stronger dialogue with small and medium sized enterprises, since they employ more people than bigger corporations. The government can find out what it will take to make them more efficient and competitive and help them hire the best talent.

It can get large corporations to come on board and help create deals between them and their smaller competitors for a win-win scenario. The reason for this is that talent floats up. As people get their bearings working in smaller enterprises then can move upwards in experience at a bigger corporation. This way both small businesses and big corporations are able to tell the government and share amongst themselves that talent and skill set they need.

Secondly, as governments find out the needs of SMB’s and Enterprises then the next step is working with academia, mentor networks and the new world of online training to help source the best platforms to help create an environment where these skills sets can be taught.

Governments can incentivize and provide tax credits for the organizations that are working on addressing and training for tomorrow’s skills gaps. This is an intelligent way of providing tax credits especially for the experienced and senior talent market who might be close to retirement or already retired. This forces both academia to start teaching more modern and applicable content and allows for new entrants to come in and also compete to help teach and certify new talent to feed into the pipeline.

Third, governments need to learn how to engage with young people and those who are looking for upward career mobility. The biggest issue governments find is that they don’t know how to resonate and foster a real conversation with younger generations. Today’s millennial workforce is the largest of any segment and in recent history. Large as they may be, they care more about experience, purpose, and fulfillment than profit. While profit is still important they are seeking jobs that help them rise and grow both personally and professionally. If a government is only engaging them to fill these gaps as if they were quotas and robots this segment will abort.

We must accept and understand that while some in the world are just satisfied to have a job this generation won’t stay anywhere long if they don’t find meaning. Since the older generations never gave thought to place this as a priority growing up until they reached their senior years they see millennials as annoying and privileged.

Therefore governments must help provide a system that helps to truly understand the wants and needs of this upcoming generation and help them gain access to skills and experiences that truly fulfill them. They need to help facilitate this culture and ideology. This provides for higher productivity and a rising happiness index.

When you combine their talents, gifts, and interests into positions that need to be filled by companies who actually care about their employees, then you have the ingredients for long-term sustainable growth.

Fourth, we must work on bringing back senior and retired talent back to create a mentoring culture and strengthen the pipeline. Often time we have made it okay to have someone work 20, 30, or 40 years and write them off because they are no longer relevant in the market. This practice is such a waste. The intellectual acumen that has been acquired by them saves us so much time. Sure not everything is applicable or relevant for tomorrow’s world be we should see them as a trusted resource. If they need to make some additional income they should have a way to do it and give back to their community. This stipend and/or tax credit can be applied based on the completion of their student’s job placement and/or mentee satisfaction. We could possibly enhance the deal by giving a bonus for the ability for a student of theirs to complete a certain amount of time at their corporation to ensure it was a good hire.

With a cross-functional and innovative mindset, we can get our global economy competing and innovating. Here in the US, we need to move beyond our polarized politics of today and find ways to start working together on these issues otherwise our future looks bleak. We can not afford to undertake this loss especially when we have the mindset, culture, capital to succeed. We now need the will to make it so. I hope that next year we start seeing governments trying this out and seeing short term results because we can then adjust and see what is working and how to fix it.

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