In a televised special, "Global Lessons: Putting America to Work," Fareed Zakaria of CNN and Time magazine looks at solutions for growing jobs in America. It is a critical subject to cover, particularly before the November elections, as the economy is the dominate issue in this campaign and people equate low unemployment with a better economy.
Experts now predict it may take as long as five years for America to return to pre-2008 employment levels, according to CNN. It is imperative that we employ new solutions to create new jobs for those who are out of work and those ready to enter the job market.
Taking a world view, Zakaria explores solutions that can be employed in America, such as:
* Apprenticeship programs like those found in Germany where businesses, unions, schools and government collaborate on matching job training with industry needs, in diverse industries from banking to nuclear technology. Roughly two-thirds of young people in Germany participate in apprenticeship programs and are proud to do so. Germany's youth unemployment rate is less than half that in America.
* "Flexicurity," which combines hiring and firing flexibility of American systems with employment security of European systems to create a new model. It is a way of helping employees stay employed, even during economic downturns or industry decline. Dutch companies invest in cross-training and "mobility centers" so that workers with transferable skills can be repositioned within a company or transferred to another company through the "mobility center" versus being laid off, with centers helping employees find another position. The Netherlands' unemployment rate has dropped by 60 percent since the 1980s and it has the best-trained and most productive labor force in the world. However, companies are having difficulty with the high cost of benefits for these workers.
* Federal subsidies of industry, like those found in South Korea, now the No. 1 shipbuilder in the world due to government investment. U.S. shipbuilding once thrived, but has declined dramatically since the U.S. Defense Department subsidies were withdrawn in the 1980s. Today it accounts for just 0.5 percent of commercial seagoing shipbuilding.
* Government support of tourism, with Dubai, a desert country, as an example. Tourism offers tremendous job growth and can benefit from fewer government regulations, promotional support and expansion of the Visa Waiver Program. Thirty years ago, nobody would have thought of going to Dubai, but today it boasts the world's tallest building, man-made islands and luxury hotels. According to this report, Dubai will stop at nothing to "woo" tourists as visitor spending has been its economic stimulus program. According to Zakaria, by 2020 hotel guests are predicted to triple and Dubai aims to create 950,000 jobs, fueled by tourism and related sectors. "The opportunity in travel and tourism today is bigger than it ever was," said Fritz van Paasschen, CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. "If the U.S. could just get back to its own share of international travel that it lost in the last decade, that would amount to about 1.3 million jobs, which is roughly 20 percent of the total number of jobs that were lost in the entire crisis," he said.
The question on the minds of many Americans is what role government should play in job creation, if any, and whether more jobs would be created if government got out of the way.
In Maui County, we are blessed with many great opportunities to grow jobs in film, medical, high-tech, visitor and alternative-energy industries, each of which would positively impact a broad range of businesses. However, decisions by those who serve on the County Council and in the Legislature and Congress will determine our fate.
On Nov. 6, vote for business-friendly candidates with strong plans to create jobs and improve our economic health.
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.