John Hagel

A new assessment of the American workforce contends that the nation’s prolonged unemployment problems are an outgrowth of outdated national policies that if not addressed, will prolong a growing shortage of essential talent and skills needed to keep America competitive.

Written by Bill Eggers, author of the The Public Innovators’s Playbook and Government 2.0 and John Hagel, author of Out of the Box, the new report is aimed primarily at the nation’s continuing debate on how to jumpstart job growth in America. But it also has lessons for federal executives who must compete with the private sector for top talent admidst underlying forces that continue foster a “significant and growing mismatch between the country’s demand for taklent and its current supply.”

Eggers, who now directs research for Deloitte Services, and Hagel, who co-chairs the consulting firm’s Center for the Edge, make the case that while Americans are becoming increasingly educated, “America’s talent pool is not poised to adapt to the new demands” of today’s knowledge economy. “The skills that graduates acquire after four years of college will soon have an expected shelf life of only five years, meaning that skills learned in school can become outdated long before the student loans are paid off,” they note.

Meanwhile, “a new class of free agents is revolutionizing the traditional 9 to 5” employment environment of the 20th century. Eggers and Hagel argue that national policy makers need to focus on six key drivers that affect America’s talent pool, recommending:

  • Education nation needs to move beyond the traditional K-12 model to one of continuous learning
  • Occupation and employment regulation needs to rethought and even dismantled to lower the barriers to a wide variety of jobs
  • Immigration rules need to be revised to provide greater ease and incentives to attract the world’s talent
  • Foreign investment need to be reframed from national security to training American talent
  • Unemployment insurance policy needs to changed to create incentives for reskilling
  • Intellectual property laws need to reduce unproductive costs and be updated to be more agile, more proactive.
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