Five Bold Ideas on Employment to Supplement the American Jobs Act

By Richard J. Crespin

Last week, President Obama laid out a modest plan to nudge job growth. I don’t fault his modesty.  Given the government’s finances, he can’t do much.  Real, lasting growth has to come from the private sector.

“What makes the current situation so hard is that we’re trying to solve a long-term problem with a very constrained fiscal situation,” said NYU’s Michael Spence on Friday.  “The longer-term problem is that we have to turn the trade-able sector of the economy into an employment-generating engine… And that’s going take a whole variety of things:  technology, education and skills, a commitment from the business community including the multi-nationals who are basically the architects of these global supply chains…tax reform… [and] a sensible energy policy.”

Here are five bold ideas drawn from some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers.  All of them will be discussed in-depth September 26-27 in New York City at COMMIT!Forum:

1.  Reimagine Global Supply Chains.  Trade-ables, i.e., the things we sell to other countries, are produced via complex supply chains dependent on modern infrastructure and vast stores of energy and natural resources. America doesn’t make – can’t make – the cheapest goods.  We must make innovative products without polluting the environment or relying on low-cost labor and working conditions.  We need to re-imagine global supply chains along the lines envisioned by the UN’s John Ruggie, “father” of the UN Principles on Business and Human Rights, rethink how water impacts production as explained by the author of “The Wal-mart Effect” and “The Big Thirst,” Charles Fishman, and how sustainability creates lasting competitive advantages as articulated by Boston Consulting’s Martin Reeves.

2.  Education & Skills.  Also on Friday, MIT’s Michael Greenstone said, “We’ve let our relative skills stagnate,” at a time when the economy has signaled that if you get more skills you’ll get better pay.  Moreover, American companies waste billions each year on workers who show up unprepared for work.  Corporate Voices for Working Families and some of America’s leading firms like Baxter, IBM, and Southwire, are preparing America’s workforce to get back to work.

3.  A Sensible Energy Policy.  To have a “green economy” we need “Green Behind the Green” – assigning economic value to sustainability.  Leading financial thinkers from Bloomberg to JP Morgan, Standard & Poors, and TIAA-CREF have figured out how the insurance and financial markets can enable a new energy future.

4.  Infrastructure. Economists and policy makers from both parties have called for renewed investment in infrastructure.  What’s the number one ingredient in infrastructure?  Concrete.  That’s why BASF and US Concrete collaborated to “Rebuild One World Trade Center on Sustainable Foundations.”  They’ve re-envisioned and reengineered one of the most fundamental ingredients that literally supports every successful economic recovery.

5.  School building. The President wants to build newer, better schools.  While some people get caught in the politics of climate change, in schools it’s not “the environment” it’s the environment in your kid’s school. That’s why the CEO of the US Green Building Council, Rick Fedrizzi will launch their latest Green Schools initiative creating a clean, healthy, energy- and cost-efficient environment for our children and their teachers.

Do you agree with Michael Spence?  Are these the right issues to focus on?  What other investments are required to put the economy on a growth-footing?  Can we afford to invest in a sustainable economy in the midst of the economic doldrums?

Register today for the COMMIT!Forum September 26-27 in New York City to take on these issues and more.  TriplePundit readers save 20% off registration by entering ID Code 3P20.


About Richard J. Crespin

Richard is the Executive Director of the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association and the President of SharedXpertise, the publishers of Corporate Responsibility Magazine and organizers of the COMMIT!Forum.  Richard has dedicated his entire professional career to creating “responsible globalization” by organizing and expanding the firms, workers, NGOs, and governments that benefit from world trade.

All quotes drawn from “Weekly Wrap: An economist roundtable on jobs,” Public Radio International’s Marketplace broadcast on September 9, 2011.

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One response

  1. These are the issues we must focus on, but the “how” is just as important as the “what.” Your use of the word “investments” is key. Much of the stimulus funding was “spent” to create jobs quickly instead of being “invested” both to create jobs and long-term value. For example, much of the money spent to weatherproof old buildings that should and will be torn down 5, 10, or at most 20 years created short-term employment but only minor efficiencies and very little long-term value. Additional investments are required, but they should be focused on infrastructure that will create efficiencies for the long term.

    John Howley

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