“The Essential, Unexpected Star of the World Economic Forum in Davos”

IRA is the acronym of the year for all discussions at the forum in Davos, Switzerland. With the passage of his Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, hit the mark. With this invented formula he (or his advisors) may have had his distant Irish origins in mind, but the text is misnamed. Their goal is less to curb inflation, which is more the responsibility of the Federal Reserve, and more to accelerate the decarbonization of the economy while at the same time funding the return of factories to national soil through subsidies.

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This prospect makes Europe’s political leaders howl and makes all the bosses of the old continent jealous. Aditya Mittal, CEO of steelmaker ArcelorMittal, or Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Volvo (Trucks), say essentially the same thing: we need that in Europe to be able to shift up a gear. There are technologies to get rid of oil or coal, but we need to speed up their adoption by lowering their cost.

The debate triggered by this new situation goes beyond the issue of competitiveness. When asked about the issue on Tuesday, January 17, US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh was the first to respond. The question of trade relations between Europe and the United States is not his job.

call for air

After a pause, however, he acknowledged that the implications for his or her work would be far-reaching. The reality is that America does not have enough qualified personnel to respond to the call for air that this tsunami will create. Responding through training and education is vital for this son of an Irish immigrant who was a labor unionist and mayor of Boston.

The invisible basic worker has become the object of all attention because of the shortage. “It was the first time I saw companies understand the link between the social and the economic,” affirms Christophe Catoir, President of interim Adecco. Not sudden altruism, but recognizing a new balance of power that is forcing companies to scale back their layoffs, unlike during the 2008 financial crisis.

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More spectacular is the appeal to his colleagues by Alan Jope, the general manager of Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company, to ensure that all of his employees around the world are paid a decent wage. “The Pandemic [de Covid-19] has accelerated the revision of the employer-employee contract,” confirms Martine Ferland, CEO of the consulting and insurance company Mercer. And that is just the beginning.