The Pillars of A Future of Work For All

By Chike Aguh

Pillar #1: Creating the Work of the Future

While many academics and economists are optimistic that this new economy will create as many jobs as it destroys and will produce enough decent work for everyone, there is no guarantee.  Like in past economic transitions, new technologies have created jobs that never existed before but they also make it possible for firms to replace humans with machines in ways they never could.  What is different today is the speed of the transition.  In the past, they took decades and now they can be measured in short years and even months.  Government must and can take action to create the conditions to make sure that we have an economy that creates decent and fulfilling jobs for everyone. 

Pillar #2: Investing in the Workers of the Future 

To prepare the workers of the future, we must ensure that they have skills that are just-in-time (skills that are directly tied to current needs of the market) and timeless (those skills that have made humans successful throughout history like leadership, communication and targeted curiosity).  Along with those skills, we need to make sure that they have the social capital and connections to actually get the jobs they need.   According to Matt Youngquist of Career Horizons, over 70% of job postings are filled without a job posting.  This means that it is likely that there are candidates for certain jobs who have the requisite skills who cannot apply for the appropriate job because they do not even know it exists. 

Pillar #3:  Matching Americans Who Need Work With Work that Needs Doing

As of February 2019, there are 7.3 million open jobs according to the US Labor Department.  While there is always some degree of open jobs in the economy, this is a historic number.  While there is much attention paid to the skills gap (workers not having the skills required), there is also not smooth system for matching the work that needs to be done with the people who need work.  Once workers have the skills necessary to do the job, there is no guarantee that they will know it exists, find it and be able to compete for it.  

Pillar #4: Moving from a Social Safety Net to An Economic Trampoline

In the 20th Century, we created a social safety net of benefit to blunt the hardest edges of capitalism when Americans fell on hard times.  These benefits consist of Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, etc.  These benefits are critical and have kept many Americans, over the decades, from falling off an economic cliff.  However, this safety net must be transformed into an economic trampoline: more than simply catching people when they fall out of the job market it must be strong enough to bounce them back into that market at a similar or better position than they were in before. 

Chike Aguh (Chee-Kay Ah-Goo) is a Technology and Human Rights Fellow at the Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and Venture Partner at New Markets Venture Partners. He holds degrees from Tufts University (B.A.), Harvard University (Ed.M; MPA), and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (MBA). He is a Fulbright Scholar, former Council of Foreign Relations term member and Presidential Leadership Scholar.

Chike Aguh
Chike Aguh writes about public policy and developments in US government