"The future world of work? I am optimistic. I'm an economist, how could I not be?" Despite heavy snow in Davos – a month before Burian – and a seven-hour car odyssey to arrive at the Swiss town hosting the World Economic Forum, Bruno Lanvin has not lost his typical good humour. Lanvin has come to talk about the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2018, drawn up by Insead – which he directs – in collaboration with The Adecco Group. The index rates countries and cities based on their ability to act as talent-centric ecosystems: "It's not just a matter of attracting talents," says Lanvin as they hook on the microphone before going on stage. "It's a question of both boosting and retaining talent, otherwise you'll end up with people coming, grabbing the incentives and leaving after two years."
But let's start from the beginning. On what do you base your optimism regarding the future world of work?
I think it will be an exciting challenge. But note, it is still a challenge. It will be important to balance innovation with appropriate policies and measures, to avoid coming out on the losing end.
What do you mean exactly?
The key element of these policies is education, which needs to learn to adapt to the labour market. Children should be taught to learn, because they'll have to learn for life. Ever new competences will be required. Education should not only be able to provide the competencies required, here and now; it should also be able to adapt to future technological revolutions. For decades, education has been immovable. Today, it needs to adapt continuously to change.
It's not just a matter of attracting talents. It's a question of both boosting and retaining talent, otherwise you'll end up with people coming, grabbing the incentives and leaving after two years.
Is that all?
No, we must also protect everyone else. Workers whose professions are threatened by robots and algorithms. We must avoid creating a gap between those who have access to new knowledge and technologies and those who do not. Otherwise, innovation would not produce quality of life, but social malaise. Quality of life is instrumental to having competitive ecosystems.
Could you clarify what you mean…
Everyone likes to live in places where as many people as possible can live well, where quality of life is high. To attract talent, you have to design and build environments where people want to live. This is an essential step, in order to be a real centre of attraction.
What advice would you give to Italy in order to become one?
Not to follow pre-established routes, but to rely on its legacy. Italians should continue studying Latin at school because it is part of their identity. The first rule when building talent is to remember who you are and where you come from.