Improving oOpportunities For California Workers

On October 28, 2015, Gavin Newsom and Ashley Swearengin write in The San Diego Union-Tribune:

It seems nearly every day a new technological wonder changes the way Americans live, learn and work. From breakthrough apps to digital networks to automated vehicles, California is consistently a strong engine that pushes our country forward. Yet, too many in our state and elsewhere in the country, feel that opportunity is increasingly out of grasp. So often we hear of six-figure starting salaries and multibillion-dollar IPOs in Silicon Valley, but the stories are very different in places like Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton and plenty of other American cities where the middle class is rapidly shrinking.

As digital technology thrusts our nation into its greatest economic transformation in over a century, we must work together to ensure everyone benefits. It’s time for all leaders to work through the fog of partisanship and commit to an action agenda to create opportunity for all Americans. This is the new imperative.

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century forced America to transform the way it trained workers as they moved from field to factory. Now the digital revolution of the 21st century and our shift from an economy of bricks and mortar to one driven by software requires a different approach. We have to rethink how we educate our workforce, train workers to have skills they need for the digital age and better connect employers with job seekers.

While we may represent different sides of the aisle, we both care deeply about improving the livelihood of our citizens. It’s why we and many other diverse leaders support Rework America, a nonpartisan group focused on driving opportunities in today’s digital world. Where some see technology and globalization as threats, we see opportunities to help all Americans thrive.

We can start by developing the workforce of tomorrow, not the workforce of yesterday. The traditional methods of preparing workers are over and educators and trainers, businesses and leaders must create the right conditions for success. California, and every other state, needs a well-educated workforce to innovate and move the economy forward. We need a skills based labor market where people are hired based on skills rather than degrees that don’t adequately reflect a person’s qualifications for a job.

We can match Californians to available jobs by connecting workers, employers and education and training providers. Rework America recently announced plans to develop a digital platform ( to do this in the city of Phoenix and in the state of Colorado. The Markle Foundation and its partners, including LinkedIn, Arizona State University, edX, and local and state employers and educators are partnering to build an innovative kit of technology tools and support systems to create a pipeline of qualified workers to fill middle-skill jobs — jobs that don’t require four-year college degrees.

Businesses will post the skills required while workers armed with this knowledge can demonstrate they have the skills or can connect with available training and education providers to secure them. We can learn from these efforts and tailor them to meet specific needs in California.

Similarly, we need to open new avenues for workers to build on skills throughout their careers. Through lifelong learning we can move away from notions of “blue collar” and “white collar” and move to a “no collar” world — where workers continually learn and refresh their skills.

In this day and age, a highly skilled workforce isn’t enough. Businesses, too, need to be on the front lines of the digital economy to help connect small businesses to a worldwide customer base. This would help enable small entrepreneurs to offer both goods and services to the world’s growing middle class and in turn make our state better equipped to meet the needs of a dynamic global market.

At the same time we can leverage technology to develop new lending models such as microfinance or peer-to-peer services to help California’s small businesses get the capital they need to grow.

Of course, none of these ideas will become a reality overnight. Like a century ago, it’s going to take a concerted investment from businesses and government. Reasonable people can disagree on the specific steps we need to take, but we can all agree that the path to opportunity is rapidly changing, and no one should be left behind.

Whether in entertainment, education, or technology, the things we do in California help shape what happens everywhere else in the country. If we unite — across sectors and across the aisle — we can be the leading force in creating the model digital economy, one in which all Americans have the opportunity to succeed.

Newsom is lieutenant governor of California. Swearengin is mayor of Fresno. They are co-authors of “America’s Moment: Creating Opportunity in the Connected Age,” a book by Rework America.

Newsom is lieutenant governor of California. Swearengin is mayor of Fresno. They are co-authors of “America’s Moment: Creating Opportunity in the Connected Age,” a book by Rework America.

It is a reality that every day new technological invention and innovation changes the way Americans live, learn and work. It is also true and imperative that  we must ALL work together to ensure everyone financially benefits. It’s time for all leaders to commit to an action reform agenda to create opportunity for all Americans, especially with regards to empowering EVERY citizen to be productive through their personal OWNERSHIP shares in future wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets that result from technological invention and innovation.

The authors, both politicians, are stuck in the single factor thinking of job creation, completely ignoring the non-human factor of production, which consists of the productive capital assets that create wealth and produce income for those who OWN the assets.

Instead, the emphasis is on educating and training our workforce to have skills they need for the digital age and better connect employers with job seekers. It’s why they and many other diverse leaders support Rework America.

Yet they are extremely shortsighted because, while there will be a need for educating and training people with the skills necessary to advance our technological prowess, this will not be in sufficient numbers to match the pool of people willing and able to work in such positions. That is because tectonic shifts in the technologies of production and competitive globalized production are destroying jobs and devaluing the worth of labor far more than the level of job creation. The reality is private sector job creation in numbers that match the pool of people willing and able to work is constantly being eroded by physical productive capital’s ever increasing role. While we do need to start developing the workforce of tomorrow, at the same time we need to empower EVERY child, woman, and man to acquire personal OWNERSHIP of wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets of the future, simultaneously with the growth of the economy.

Yet, we sorely lack leadership, both in the political spectrum and the private business sector and academia, to identify this problem and to develop solutions, such as insured, interest-free capital credit, repayable with the earnings of the corporations growing the economy. Until we embrace an Ownership Culture  and enact every economic policy such that the result simultaneously creates new capital owners as the economy grows, a job focus alone will fall way short of empowering EVERY citizen to be a productive contributor to our society.

For solutions, support the Capital Homestead Act at, and See


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