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American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Axios Managing Editor Kim Hart. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Thursday morning, Axios' Kim Hart hosted a conversation on what today's decision-makers — in business, education and policy — can do to offset the skills gap predicted to hit the American workforce.

Why it matters: We heard from both the private and public sector on the role each plays in making sure our new tech-heavy economy is one of promise and opportunity, and not displacement and loss.

Rob Falzon: Vice Chairman, Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial Vice Chairman Rob Falzon. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Falzon discussed the steps Prudential is taking now so that its workers are prepared for the company's future needs.

  • How to approach the skills gap as a business: "It’s looking at where you have needs in the organization and where you have skills, then creating a 'learning academy' that gives you the skills you need to fill that gap."
  • "I have this concept of labeling work as either critical or pivotal. The critical roles don’t need to be done by humans … take those people and put them into pivotal positions ... It will add value for them and to the company."
  • What the next 5-10 years will bring: “We’ll hire more people and not less but ... the roles they’ll be doing will be very different."
Randi Weingarten: President, American Federation of Teachers
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Weingarten spoke to the role teachers play in preparing our children for the future of work, and the importance of giving those teachers the training and resources they need to succeed.

  • "Just like high school was an absolute necessity in the 20th century, post-secondary education is absolutely imperative in the 21st century."
  • "High quality career technical education is a huge way of solving the skills and power gap and getting kids into pipelines."
  • If the government is doing enough to invest in career tech education: “No, absolutely not.”
  • The most important skill to have: “Critical thinking … we want our kids to be able to make their own decisions based on fact."
Kevin Hassett: Chairman, Council of Economic Advisors
Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers Kevin Hassett. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Hassett explained the critical role he sees the government playing in tackling the skills gap.

  • "In the next 10 to 20 years innovation is increasingly going to make skill sets obsolete and require re-skilling ... we as a government have to think about what we’re doing to help people who are affected by this."
  • If the government should increase spending on this issue: "We might want to spend a lot more ... first, we have to make sure that what we’re spending on is working."
  • How the private sector fits in: "Businesses have an incentive to free ride on the other folks who do the training ... but if firms all agree to train workers, then we’ll reach a positive Nash equilibrium" where it becomes a social norm.

Thank you Infosys for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

6 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.

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