A focus by countries on developing a skilled workforce through improvements in education is necessary, according to participants in a CNBC debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
At the debate, entitled "The Future of Employment - The West Isn't Working," the panel, participants and audience members floated ideas that largely centered on how vital stronger educational systems are, but also on ways that companies could release capital to boost employment and how governments can encourage entrepreneurship.
"The US can get its macro(economic) house in order, I worry very much about the educational system," Laura Tyson, S. K. and Angela Chan Chair in Global Management at Berkeley, said.
That means starting early, because "universities can't tap the job pool that is lost in the fourth grade," Tyson said.
The US must address the job situation with the same sense of urgency it brought to fixing the financial crisis, said Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.
Because teachers are so critical, it must be easier for school systems to fire teachers who aren't performing well, which is too difficult to do under the current system.
Jeffrey Joerres, CEO and chairman of Manpower, stressed that intellectual curiosity is missing from all educational levels.
Click here for an interview with Jeffrey Joerres on the "two-speed Europe."
And looking to India, Naveen Jindal, an industrialist and member of India's parliament, said the country wants to double the percentage of the workforce that leaves school with a college degree to 30 percent, which will take building thousands of opportunities.
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Also stressed was the need for small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive to keep up with the demands of a growing workforce.
The US should be luring entrepreneurs from around with world a visa program, Huffington said.
Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, said that the US was making a mistake forcing foreign students to leave US universities when they could be contributing to the US economy.
While the East is often seen as the new growth engine, the West outshines the East in access to capital, such as venture capital and angel investors, and that can be the engine of future job creation, Barry Silbert, CEO of SecondMarket, said.
But putting money in the pockets of workers would be the best way to stimulate the economy, Philip Jennings, general secretary of UNI Global Union, said.
Jennings also questioned why more than $1 trillion on corporate balance sheets is currently "on strike" and not working to create more jobs.