The battle for president was animated in part by a simple but profound question: How do we ensure that the economic opportunities in our country are extended to more Americans? This question has been top of mind for the innovation sector for some time now.
As president-elect Trump begins to plan his 2017 agenda, we believe that there are five steps that the new administration and the new Congress can take, starting in the first 100 days, to jump-start the economy, ensure that Americans have skills necessary to land well-paying jobs, and create a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and growth.
- First, President-elect Trump should get to work on passing tax reform and engage with the House and Senate to make this a reality. Everyone knows tax reform is hard, but there is no other initiative that the next president and Congress could undertake that would make a bigger difference for our economy and for working Americans. The opportunities are too big to let this window of opportunity pass. There is $2.5 trillion in American earnings locked overseas, where the money today funds foreign jobs. We must bring this money home where it can drive economic growth and put more Americans to work.
- Second, Trump should immediately launch a 21st century skills initiative, beginning with computer science education for every school-aged child in America. Succeeding in the modern economy takes digital skills, but in many states, our curriculum, technology, and focus have not kept up with the times. Trump should include dedicated funding in his budget to support computer science education across the country. This initiative should also include technical training programs for high school graduates. Such programs – like skills training programs run by Cisco and Oracle – have been proven to lead to good, well-paying jobs for individuals who have high school diplomas. The president-elect should consider using these programs, and others like them, as national models for high-tech skills development.
- Third, Trump should make passage of high-skilled immigration reform a top priority. About one-quarter of the engineering and technology companies started in the United States between 2006–2012 had at least one founder who was an immigrant, according to the Kaufman Foundation. It is imperative that we do more as a nation to ensure the best, brightest, and most ambitious individuals from around the world can remain in the U.S. and help advance American innovation and job creation. Many of these individuals have studied at our top universities or have jobs in the tech sector. It simply makes no sense to send them home to compete against us when they can help drive economic growth here in the U.S.
- Fourth, the president-elect should renew our nation's commitment to creating an environment that fosters the growth and development of dynamic, job-creating startups. These dynamic startups are special companies. The ones that succeed have the potential to grow from one or two founders to companies with 1,000 or 10,000 or 25,000 employees. Yet, no one knows which companies will succeed and which will fail. So, as a nation, we should support a large startup ecosystem – and not just in the traditional hotbeds of growth like Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston but also across the nation in places like Raleigh, Salt Lake City, and Richmond. Such an agenda should include new federal investments in basic science and technology research, reducing regulatory barriers, improving access to capital through crowdfunding and other sources, improving access to talent, and supporting the development of startup incubators around our nation's universities.
- Finally, the president-elect should launch a national dialogue about the future of work. As anyone who has ridden in a Lyft, used DoorDash, or hired a tasker on TaskRabbit knows, the American workforce is changing. There are 53 million Americans in the contingent workforce. Technology has been a major driver of these changes through the development of collaborative, on-demand mobile applications. At TechNet, we believe that technology has been a force for good in this space, helping millions of Americans achieve their ambitions with flexible opportunities. Yet, we need to explore ways to extend the virtues of this new economy to more Americans – this includes making sure that the models for the provision of benefits like 401(k)s and health care are able to keep up with the times, and that workers of all backgrounds have access to these important aspects of the social safety net.
President-elect Trump ran on need to revitalize the American economy, and this message resonated with American voters. The innovation industry stands ready to engage with our leaders in Washington and at every level of government to do our part in creating more opportunities for more Americans.