Nearly 50 percent of the global population is under the age of 28. India and China, with a combined population of 2.5 billion people, are poised to become the leading providers of global workforce talent. Meanwhile, developed economies like the U.S. and EU facing the challenges of an aging and declining workforce. Japan announced that in 2013 its population shrunk by 244,000 people—the largest decline in its history. Clearly, nations can no longer depend on a static, stationary workforce to fill the demand for skilled workers.
How can we deal with these global demographic talent imbalances?
The only answer to many societal challenges is to educate underutilized workers in skills that will allow them to contribute, said Michael Norris, Chief Operating Officer and Market President at Sodexo, Inc. "We are citizens of the world, after all. STEM education is a great equalizer," Norris said at The World in 2050: Talent Mobility and the Future of Jobs
in Washington, DC on January 14th. Talent is behind what every company is and will become, and to make sure that companies have that talent, we must look to how to develop that talent.
STEM education became a common theme among the panelists, as the discussion turned to preparing the next generation of workers for global careers. According to Surya Kant, President of North America, UK, and Europe at Tata Consultancy Services, 70 percent of high school students in the United States actually consider STEM classes while they are in school. However, once they enter college, only 4 percent end up studying computer science.
But even in fields that do not require a computer science degree, a knowledge of technology can upend the way global companies do business. Millennials—often referred to as "digital natives"—have grown up with this technology and have innovative ideas for its use. "Millennials are more inclined to technology. It is very important that we provide an environment to help them thrive," said Kant.
But STEM education and a knowledge of how to use technology is not the final goal. Stephan Lancrin-Vincent and Ambassador Stuart Holliday both addressed this, discussing the importance of developing workers who can think creatively, can collaborate, and can understand how to utilize data. Most of all, they need to understand how to use the technology tools in their hands ethically.
STEM education is not just for a few people, but for the broader good of society—helping both low and high skilled workers, the panelists argued. Are we seeing the rise of talentism against capitalism? How do we balance a nation-based international political system with an increasingly globalized workforce?
Thanks to Plus Social Good and the United Nations Foundation for their live stream coverage as part of You+Davos+Social Good!
The World in 2050: Talent Mobility and the Future of Work
PANEL I: Changing Demographics
Ambassador Stuart Holliday