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Thinking about the Business Pitch Competition

Posted by: Eric Cormier on Monday, May 7, 2018

It was awesome to observe competitors explain their “pitches” during the Sixth Annual Business Pitch Contest that was hosted by the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance’s Business Incubator last week.

Of the four winners, three specifically geared their business plans towards utilizing new media platforms and applications to provide services in the open market.

Afterwards, several winners said they were focused on creating their respective applications. What that means is that they have the technical skills or access to people who do.

Those individuals with the required technology skills may or may not realize just how productive their professional lives will be in the future.

Recently, a study was released by the Council on Foreign Relations entitled “The Work Ahead: Machines, Skills, and U.S. Leadership in the Twenty-First Century” that addressed the need for the country to create better pathways to education, well paid jobs, and business start-up opportunities.

“As technology disrupts industry after industry, the United States needs better ways to help Americans access the many new opportunities technology is also creating, in particular by strengthening the link between education and employment prospects,” as stated in the reports executive summary.

“Advances in computing and robotics have also made it increasingly possible for companies to replace human labor with machines. While many new opportunities will likely be created to replace those jobs lost, American workers face big obstacles in acquiring the education and skills needed to prosper in a more automated work environment. While there are different predictions about the pace and scale of the coming technological disruption that will be brought by artificial intelligence, driverless vehicles, and other breakthroughs, there is widespread agreement that disruption will increase. As many as one-third of American workers may need to change occupations and acquire new skills by 2030 if automation adoption is rapid, according to an estimate by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).”

The task force charged with researching and compiling the report noted seven findings. Four of which ought to get our collective attention:

·         Accelerating technological change will alter or eliminate many human jobs. Although many new jobs will be created, the higher-paying ones will require greater levels of education and training. In the absence of mitigating policies, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are likely to exacerbate inequality and leave more Americans behind.

·         The lack of accessible educational opportunities that are clearly and transparently linked to the changing demands of the job market is a significant obstacle to improving work outcomes for Americans.

·         U.S. efforts to help displaced workers are inadequate. Unemployment insurance is too rigid and covers too few workers, and retraining programs are not based on the best global models.

·         Too many jobs are going unfilled because of restrictions related to credentialing, mobility, and hiring practices. More could also be done to create new opportunities in higher-unemployment regions.

    Southwest Louisiana is on the cusp of monumental job growth due to historic industrial development. Automation will have an impact on our region to certain degrees like the rest of the country.

    What needs to be gleaned from the report is that education and technology skills have to be made available to the masses. Without them, the masses will suffer.

    So far, our area has been proactive in creating skill specific training for industry. What is concerning is that not all of our residents are taking the opportunity to learn. Also, as time progresses, certain sectors in our workforce become obsolete and they will have to retrain.

    Education has always been the key to mobility. As technological advances change the workforce landscape, getting an education is the one task that will keep a person viable.

    As Aristotle said, “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.”


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