Aside from the tragedy of war, the main driver of migration is still a lack of opportunities at home. But when the best and brightest minds leave in search of a better life abroad, their home countries lose the talent they need for their economies to grow and societies to flourish. This vicious cycle entrenches the gap between rich and poor countries and causes further migration.
The migration crisis is arguably the single biggest policy challenge facing governments in the 21st century. The long-term answer to this is economic. Only economic regeneration will create the jobs and opportunities needed to close the gap between the world’s rich and poor, and industry must spearhead that regeneration.
Manufacturing and technological innovation are the lifeblood of modern economies. Across the world, manufacturing industries account for 8 to 10 per cent of all jobs – employing 500 million people – and about 17 per cent of the world’s economic output. Industry creates employment and wealth by converting investment into income.
Addressing the long-term challenge of economic migration is one of the main objectives of the first Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), which is being held this week in Abu Dhabi.
Hosted by the UAE Government and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, GMIS was endorsed by the former UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon to be the world’s first global gathering for the manufacturing community, bringing together more than 1,000 leaders in business, government and civil society. The aim is to create a forum that finds solutions to global challenges of stagnant economies, diminishing natural resources and rapid population growth. It is about taking a transformational approach for global manufacturing that enables it to meet the needs of the global economy – and the world’s citizens – over the coming decades. There is a fear that automation could increase the economic divide between rich and poor countries, as computers and machines replace workers across a spectrum of industries. It is our responsibility to ensure that the “creative disruption” of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, led by the Internet of Things, does not entrench the gap between rich and poor. We must ensure that it spurs a new renaissance in manufacturing and job creation across the world by drastically improving the efficiency of business and organisations to spur further growth and development, responsibly and sustainably.
To achieve this, business leaders must begin questioning everything, from rethinking their strategies and business models, to uncovering the right investments in research and development.
Meanwhile, cooperation is needed between government, education and innovative employers to ensure that young people have the training, skills and education they need. Nothing can be more disruptive to any economy than unemployment, especially when the victim is young and educated.
This lack of opportunity is not only a challenge for the poorer south, but also the more affluent north. Long-term unemployment in the UK, US and other wealthy countries has been caused, in large part, by the collapse of industries which have not yet been replaced. This, in turn, has been a cause of political and social volatility on both sides of the Atlantic.
The premise of GMIS is that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be at the heart of prosperity in all countries. It could enable industrialising countries to accelerate the growth of their manufacturing sectors, and enable the UK, and others, to replace the industries of the past with data and internet-driven manufacturing bases that match the growing pool of internet-savvy graduates.
Unlike the G20 or World Economic Forum, GMIS will bring together the entire spectrum of manufacturing, spanning low-tech and high-tech industries and encompassing both the developed world and fast-emerging economies with nascent manufacturing sectors.
As Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said last December: “In this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the UAE has chosen to be at the forefront of this revolution. Our role in this is essential, at both regional and global levels.”
Previous waves of technological revolution have concentrated the rewards in the hands of a small elite. Our challenge is to ensure that no country, region or person is left behind.
Badr Al Olama is the Chief executive of Strata Manufacturing
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