A key to sustainable economic development: equal access to technology – BBVA

Using public policy to optimize the outcome of the fourth revolution

The goal of public policy is to regulate the surplus of production that can result from the digital revolution and ensure no one unduly takes advantage of said surplus.

Education. Education should ensure that human capital is complementary to (and not replaceable by) technology. To this end, soft skills have secured a position as a fundamental area for training, teaching people to work in teams, to lead, and manage other activities. Given the modern era’s speed of change, we will have to constantly undertake training or updating of skills, as tasks are automated or deemed obsolete with technological advances.

Work. We have to create the conditions that foster an opportunity-generating job market for those people who have already skilled up for the new digital landscape. Technology itself might help us avoid mismatches between work force supply and demand: big data, according to Domenech and Andrés, is a tool that is capable of building a more efficient job market, one that optimizes profiling for positions and finding the most suitable candidates.

Market competition. Guaranteeing market competitiveness is imperative so that the  surplus production delivered by technology reaches everyone and avoids becoming subject to monopolistic interests that block it.

Still, public policy that is successfully implemented in these areas will inevitably have to confront what the authors call the ‘transition cost’— those specific cases where people, countries, or entire sectors need public help in order to weather the technological transition. For example, some occupations may end up obsolete and workers in these areas will have to be re-skilled for other work. To cope with the transition, public policy that redistributes wealth and proposes wealth-balancing fiscal measures will need to be established.

Technology should help us optimize production and work hours, as well as promoting work-life balance and not become an impediment to our personal space. These changes to the way we work and live should enable more sustainable development. Nevertheless, according to the study’s thesis, maintaining optimism in the face of the digital revolution reality requires that we do not lose site of the importance of public policy, a key element in managing the challenges that come hand-in-hand with the current revolution.