As leaders convene for the virtual Jobs Reset Summit to shape a post pandemic future, most agree on the immediate need to address a social revival alongside an economic one. “There can be no economic recovery without a social one”, says Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.
The choices made by policy-makers, business leaders, workers and learners today will shape societies for years to come. At this critical crossroads, leaders are consciously, proactively and urgently laying the foundations of a new social contract, rebuilding economies so they provide opportunities for all.
COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated social inequities, with previous slow progress on gender, equality and poverty either grinding to a halt or going into reverse. The uneven rollout of vaccines is also a stark indication of inequality between nations: “a catastrophic moral failure”, says the WHO.
History teaches us that pandemics preface transformation. This time, the pandemic is part of a triple upheaval – combined with the urgent imperatives of the climate crisis and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The chorus for change is sounding.
There are strong growth prospects, but these are inextricably tied to jobs, skills and equity in the return of business activity.
We asked leaders at this week’s Jobs Reset Summit what needs to be done to shape an inclusive recovery.
‘Preparing our youth for tomorrow’s job market’—Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares and Member of its Board of Directors
“The increasing emphasis that the World Economic Forum is placing on education and skilling represents a remarkable opportunity to ensure that the private sector is meaningfully engaged in how we are preparing our youth for tomorrow’s job market. Quality education is the foundation for skilling and both the public and private sectors have an important strategic role to play in ensuring that children and youth globally have access to effective learning and skilling opportunities at all stages of their educational journeys. Dubai Cares is delighted to be part of the Jobs Reset Summit and we look forward to continuing this significant discussion at the RewirEd Summit in December 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai.”
‘Climate friendly jobs are at the heart of recovery’—Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation
“Decent jobs, especially climate friendly jobs, must be at the heart of recovery, along with rights, social protection, equality and inclusion. These are the foundations of the new social contract which the world needs to build resilience now and for the future.”
‘Gender equality at its core’—Wendy Clark, Global CEO, Dentsu International
“A jobs reset without gender equality at its core will cost business and society for decades to come. As leaders, we have a duty to surface and challenge the systemic obstacles preventing women from achieving their full potential. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted women and minority groups, it is critical we address these inequalities and embrace the benefits of a more diverse, inclusive and fairer economy.”
‘Transform lives’—Gabe Dalporto, CEO, Udacity
“SkillsLink represents a huge step forward in solving the global skills gap problem at scale through partnership between the public and private sector. Udacity is proud to participate in the Skills Consortium because we are so well-positioned to provide skills-based training to millions of people to help them transform their lives and secure new career opportunities in the digital economy.”
‘Re-imagine the purpose of education’—John Goodwin, CEO, The Lego Foundation
“The challenges of the global recovery have created a new impetus to re-imagine the purpose of education. A central pillar of this is designing education systems focused on developing a love of learning and fostering the breadth of skills children need to thrive. Those who love learning are agile, adaptive and flexible. They are energised to learn, re-learn, skill and reskill throughout their lives, which is good for learners, good for society and good for the economy. Changing mindsets and reforming systems is difficult and we need a diversity of perspectives to approach the challenge in new ways – that is why collaboration between public and private sectors has the potential to be transformational in education.”
‘Long-term economic success and positive societal impact’—Badr Jafar, Chief Executive Officer, Crescent Entreprises
“Beyond the ill-effects on the pandemic, it provided many with an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the status quo in relation to the role of business in society, with a greater acceptance of the notion that business really has no other choice but to be at the forefront of addressing our social and environmental challenges. And not simply as a moral imperative – but a commercial one, with inextricable links between long-term economic success and positive societal impact.”
‘Not a zero-sum game’—Alex Liu, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board at Kearney
“Addressing systemic racial and social discrimination is not a zero-sum game. If we create a spirit of allyship, belonging, culture, then we are all empowered. In the face of continuing global uncertainty, it is more critical than ever for business leaders to lead with purpose and remain committed to being the change we want and need on racial and social justice in our communities.”
‘A growth path of inclusion and sustainability’—Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, University College London (UCL)
“There is now consensus that we must “build back better” and “broader” in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the tools for doing so are still being debated. The report that we are launching today tables concrete proposals, from procurement policy to conditioning grants and loans from public institutions and development banks to direct the economy towards a growth path of inclusion and sustainability. Many of these recommendations have already been implemented in specific countries or regions, bringing valuable lessons for public policy. We call on G7 and G20 countries to scale up the successes so we can co-create the new markets that will transform tomorrow’s economy.”
‘Support women entrepreneurs’—Lazzat Ramazanova, Chairwoman of the National Commission on Women’s Affairs, Kazakhstan
“The Government of Kazakhstan is introducing numerous reforms and legislations to support women and achieve gender parity across all sectors of the economy. In particular, currently women-led and women-initiated businesses make up over 43% out of 1 million SMEs in Kazakhstan. To support women entrepreneurs further, the Government initiated the establishment of 17 regional “Resource Centers”. These centers support business-projects and organize training and educational events.”
By Eoin Ó Cathasaigh & Gayle Markovitz
About the authors: Eoin Ó Cathasaigh is Lead, Programming and Communication, Centre for the New Economy and Society, World Economic Forum; Gayle Markovitz is Partnerships Editor, World Economic Forum.