Part One: New Thinking
When discussing the future of work there has been a lot of chatter about the roles of artificial intelligence and automation and how that will ultimately revolutionize the very mechanics of the act of labor and what the function of work will look like in the digital age. While these topics are of vital importance and will continue to play a part in the ongoing transformation of work it is important, we don’t lose sight of the significance of human capital. In July 2014, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a study, The Global Workforce Crisis: $10 Trillion At Risk which highlighted that “demographics is one of the most insidious of all mega trends threatening the global economy.” The study focused on performing numerous simulations of 25 major economies to quantify the extent of labor shortages and surpluses from the decade between 2020 and 2030. BCG concluded that of the countries evaluated which included Germany, Brazil, China, and the United States, there is currently a labor surplus, however, by 2030 these countries will be headed to a massive shortfall of labor that will have a devastating effect across the global economy. Due to falling birthrates and an aging population this creates an ever-increasing demand for labor. BCG through their study states that they did not set out to provide solutions, however, they do offer some suggestions that focus on developing training programs for workers over 65 as well as promoting jobs for the elderly. While they touch upon taking steps to close the labor gap, it’s what they don’t say that sets the groundwork for shaping a new paradigm of talent management and puts persons with disabilities in the driver’s seat as a potential solution to a looming global economic crisis. As we begin a new decade, it is time for the disability community, innovative corporate leaders and forward-thinking policymakers to seize this opportunity and push the narrative beyond just human rights and even inclusion. True innovation is brought about by having a panoramic view of the economic environment ahead and capitalizing on the possibilities by imagining the realities yet to be. The looming workforce crisis offers a new opportunity for persons with disabilities to play an essential role in shaping the workforce of the future and providing a real solution to a growing economic problem. We are beginning to see a mainstream acceptance of this very idea. This past week, Attila Fülöp, the Minister of State for Social Affairs and Social Inclusion at the Ministry of Human Capacities in Budapest Hungary hosted the International Conference on Creating Value focusing on the need for the employment of persons with disabilities as a way of increasing inclusion but offsetting a labor shortage which is very much part of the countries reality. Bringing together government officials, NGO’s and private industry this conference offered a vision of how dialogue like this is so needed into today’s economic climate, but more importantly, offers a new paradigmatic shift where persons with disabilities can become stakeholders within the conversation for finding more effective resolutions to critical issues that face our world. With the acceleration of innovation and the transformation of the world of work CEO’s, business leaders and government officials need to embrace disability through understanding that culture change is necessary. We are at a tipping point where business needs to recognize that disability is no longer just about a question of inclusion and diversity, but rather a question of survival. If we are to take The Boston Consulting Group study among others at face value than corporate leaders have to rethink their business philosophy as it pertains to talent management and how to think about designing new strategies to enhance the working environment to attract, train and cultivate a whole new pipeline of employees. In this evolution of culture change, we must move from focusing on the idea of human capital management to the notion of Human Sustainability. In the next Mindset Matters column, we will take a deeper dive into the meaning of Human Sustainability and what role disability plays in this new model of culture change.