While most of Washington was focused last week on President Trump’s first address to Congress, Kelly Services, a leading staffing firm, and the Conference Board hosted an important discussion with policymakers from both sides of the aisle about how to respond to the rapidly changing demographics of the U.S. workforce. The event, titled “Advancing the Social Contact for Gig Economy Workers,” included four panels and a keynote address delivered by the Future of Work Initiative’s Honorary Co-Chair Senator Mark Warner.
As part of his remarks, Sen. Warner highlighted the need for Washington to start a discussion about the fact that a significant share – over a third, in some surveys – of the workforce is now engaged in contingent work and the implications that has for our social safety net that was built at a time when almost all workers were full-time employees. He foreshadowed, “…more than likely that number of a third today will head towards 50 percent by 2030.”
According to Sen. Warner, “what we’ve got to do, I believe, is rather than simply re-fight the battles of the 20th century around labor classifications, we need to meet the workforce of the 21st century where the workforce is at. And that is going to mean something that is going to take some new ideas and some new experimentation.”
Sen. Warner suggested that we need more experimentation around portable benefit models, like those outlined in the Future of Work Initiative’s Toward A New Capitalism Policy Agenda, Portable Benefit Resource Guide, and Portable Benefits in the 21st Century. In addition, he encouraged businesses to take a leading role in training their workers and for companies to shift their focus from short term quarterly profits to long-term value creation.
Overall, he advised that ideas should be considered within the context of how to make a 21st century economy work for more Americans, since individuals in this part of the workforce are operating with “no safety net underneath them.” “We really got to get this right because I would argue again that one of the challenges that we face in our country right now is not only the enormous problem of economic inequality, but also equally important around economic insecurity,” said Warner.
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Tim Walberg shared similar concerns about changes in the workforce and how additional data could help define the problem. “While other studies have been conducted, we are going to need better data and reliable statistics if we are going to implement some policy,” he said.
The event also highlighted views from a range of private sector business leaders, policy makers, workers advocates, and thought leaders focused on leveraging open dialogue to provide recommendations about improving the social contact.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner explores solutions to the key challenges facing workers in the gig economy.
Learn more about the emergence of the gig economy workforce and its impact on the current social contract: http://bit.ly/2mBdx1C
Posted by Kelly Services on Tuesday, February 28, 2017
If you are interested in learning more about this important debate, check out the Future of Work Initiative’s Toward a New Capitalism report that examines the trends that are driving changes to the workforce and lays out solutions that policymakers need to consider.
Additional press coverage of the event can also be found here.