CNBC Interview with Adecco CEO, Alain Dehaze, from the World Economic Forum 2019

Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Alain Dehaze, Adecco CEO, and CNBC's Geoff Cutmore and Steve Sedgwick.

SS: Alain Dehaze has joined us out here, on our balmy set, he is the CEO of Adecco, Alain, always a pleasure speaking to you.

AD: Good morning.

SS: Look, I want to pull on to something different in this report, as well, and I-, because I-, I-, I read through it, and I thought it was very interesting, that cities, rather than countries, are very often taking the lead, and I suddenly thought to myself, 'Is Alain, and Adecco, in a very subtle way, making a political point here, as well?' Because we don't seem, in so many ways, to be getting leadership from certain administrations, maybe in the United States, and elsewhere, on certain key issues, but we are getting it on a municipal level, and I noticed, at number one, and number six, Washington, and Boston, as well, were both up there as well. Am I reading too much in to your report?

AD: No, it's not a political trend, it is more a sociological trend, and you see that, yes, some cities, like Shanghai, and so on, they are larger than the Benelux, together-,

SS: Wow.

AD: So you see, also, the-, the-, the power of-, of the cities, and cities, in the meantime, they are competing to each other, also for-, for the talent, for the scarcity of the talent.

SS: But-, but-, but my point is the same, whether you're making a particular point or not, and I'll take it that you're not, as well, that actually, at-, at a-, a country-wide level, at an administration-wide level, the UK government, just pick a government, it doesn't matter what, it's actually other authorities, regional authorities, who are taking the lead. We're not relying on state-led competitive initiatives.

AD: This is true, especially in big countries, where you see that, because of the structure of the-, the local politics, some matters are given now to the regions, to the cities, and so on, and so they have the flexibility to-, to design their attractiveness, their competitiveness, as a city. I can tell you, in-, in a country like China, Beijing is really competing with-, with Shanghai-,

SS: Uh-huh.

AD: And-, and they are competing for having the best companies, the best talents, the best universities, and not only at the country level, but also at the global level.

GC: What I'm hearing in Davos is-, is growth numbers are expected to slow. Just linking in your report, and the overarching message here, that suggests to me that, actually, we're not going to see much significant wage growth from here, in key economies, going forward, and the message from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, increasingly, is, 'We just have too many workers. We're going to need less workers, going forward, for the international economy that is taking shape right now.' Alain, are all negative signals for those who haven't been able to reskill, who are left behind, in a sense?

AD: There are many questions in your question. First of all, about wage inflation, we see that there is wage inflation in the countries, in the areas, where you have, really, scarcity, and if you have still, today, like, countries, I would say France, and so on, you are still today at 9% unemployment overall, and the youth unemployment even at 17%, there is no pressure on-, on-, on the supply, and that's why you don't see really big wage inflation.

SS: But-, but-, but-, but I have a problem, and-, and this is that too many people tell me, 'Oh, we need to train our kids for the jobs of tomorrow,' and then I ask people, 'What are the jobs of tomorrow?' and they can't give me an answer. And if they say to me, 'Coding,' I say to you, 'Show me a machine that can't code better than my children. Show me a machine that can't do-,' so, what are these jobs that we're supposed to be giving our children for the future?

AD: First-, the parents, they should learn two things to the kids. First, to become curious, this is very important-,

SS: Mm.

AD: Curiosity, and second, to life-long learn. Because you are right-,

SS: But that's not going to get them-,

AD: No-,

SS: $100,000 a year, Alain-,

AD: You are right, life-long learning is becoming extremely important, because life is not more sequential. In the past, you were studying, then you were working, and then you were retiring. This is finished. Today, you have to study, to learn, and work, and learn-,

SS: Alain, I'm not buying it. I'm not buying it. I tell you why, because the student debt levels have gone through the absolute roof, on both sides of the Atlantic, and I'm sure it's the same in Asia-Pacific, as well. So we're telling our children to have a lifetime of student debt before they even get in to the workplace.

AD: This is why we are so supportive about vocational training, because it's not only good for your skills acquisition, but it is also good on the financial side, because you are learning while you are-, you are working, and-, and-, and you are learning the right skills, the skills which are really today in demand.

GC: Ah, we've got to wrap it up, Alain, nice to see you, thanks for coming in, Alain Dehaze, the CEO of Adecco.

ENDS