Jumpstarting the global job creation machine, one idea at a time
When Michael Milken throws out a question, it is hard to ignore. Even if it is a bit daunting, like the one he posed to the four prominent leaders on stage at the close of this year’s Milken Institute Global Conference.
“What has to be done to create 1 billion net new jobs over the next couple decades?”
Their answers, not surprisingly, were as ambitious as Milken’s question.
Kathy Matsui, vice-chair of Goldman Sachs Japan Co., suggested re-engineering the education system to provide programs to retrain a workforce that may be “starting a new career at 50 or 60.” She said it was “arcane” to expect people to work an increasingly long lifetime using skills they acquired between ages “0 to 21.”
Empowering women is critical to reaching that job creation goal, insisted Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and chairman of Econet Wireless, one of Africa’s leading telecom companies. He said Africa, which is home for 60 percent of the world’s underutilized arable land, would benefit hugely from any support provided to women farmers.
“Over 60 percent of the food being eaten in Africa is produced by women and most of them have no access to (extra) land, no access to capital,” he said.
Politicians could unlock a huge source of entrepreneurial energy if they made it easier for people to pack up their skills and go to the places where their expertise is in the greatest demand, said Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics. “The problem is in all the advanced countries there is a backlash against immigration,” he said.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Roubini’s call for greater global integration, which supported his contention that the only way to create a billion new jobs was to have strong, committed leaders willing to take unpopular positions.
“Change-making is tough,” he said, “And sometimes it requires leaders to say no instead of yes.”
Retooling education. Empowering women. Strengthening leadership. By the end of the hour, Milken had a long list of job-creation suggestions. But that wasn’t enough.
“The challenge to all of us is not only to create jobs but to create a life that is meaningful,” he said.