Automation will replace workers’ tasks, not jobs

As the development of technology accelerates, workers might be concerned over displacement by automation, but they really shouldn’t be.

That was the message at the North Bay Leadership Council 2016 Economic Insight Conference on June 9 at the Sheraton Hotel Petaluma.

Most companies adopt new technologies to increase efficiency, safety and customer satisfaction, not to replace their labor force, said keynote speaker Michael Chui, partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of McKinsey, a global management consulting firm. Technology can improve our lives while taking away the boring, repetitive labor, and workers can be trained to do other jobs.

“We’ve always been able to create new things for people to do,” Chui said.

Chui is a co-author of a McKinsey report, “Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation,” which found that many jobs will be refined rather than eliminated by technological advances, at least in the short term. Automation will take over activities, but not replace workers.

“It’s rare to remove a person and drop in a robot,” he said.

The report gives the examples of ATMs and automated check-in-kiosks at airline ticketing areas, which have not eliminated bank tellers or airline check-in staff, but have freed them up for other tasks.

Chui predicts that automation will affect every job. McKinsey research analyzed about 2,000 different activities workers perform and 18 different capabilities that could possibly be automated, like picking things up, cleaning and maintenance, and greeting people. The report also suggests that as many as 45 percent of the activities workers perform could be automated by adopting current technology. That includes not just low-skill, low-wage jobs, but CEOs, financial managers and physicians as well.

“Mortgage-loan officers, for instance, will spend much less time inspecting and processing rote paperwork and more time reviewing exceptions, which will allow them to process more loans and spend more time advising clients,” the report said.

On the flip side, there are many lower-wage jobs where only a small percentage of their activities could be automated, like home health aides and landscape workers.

Automation can also increase safety, with drones carrying tools for a worker atop a telephone pole, as suggested by Michael Beaudoin, who runs accelerator and venture programs at AT&T, and also spoke at the conference.

“We are also providing training for employees whose jobs that will get phased out, in something they find interesting,” he said.

As baby boomers retire, reducing the workforce, adopting automation may also be one way for companies to increase growth, Chui said.

“In advanced economies people are getting older and the number of workers is declining and productivity has slowed. How to get more work done? Get machines to do it.”

Why We Need To Expand Access To Early Childhood Education

Many people don’t know that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before the age of five. The early childhood years are critical for laying the foundation for the rest of a child’s life. Early interaction with parents, child-care providers and siblings all shape the nature and development of a child’s brain. But knowing something and doing something about it are two very different things.

We need to ensure that every child in Sonoma County has access to quality preschool to give them a strong start on the path to future success. High quality preschool is a necessity for our kids and should not be a luxury only available to relatively few families.

Studies show that children who have access to high quality preschools are more likely to read proficiently by third grade, graduate high school and attend college. Preschools provide learning environments with teachers who are trained specifically to work with young children and help them succeed. Preschool enables more young children to enter kindergarten ready to learn and excel in school — placing all students on equal footing the first day of kindergarten.

However, the reality in Sonoma County is that the cost of sending a child to preschool is out of reach for many of our families. More than half of local kids are not attending preschool. With a price tag of roughly $13,000 per year on average, preschool costs 39 percent of the median annual income for Sonoma County women.

In our schools today, we can see the impacts when families don’t have access to affordable, early childhood education.

In 2015, 64 percent of Sonoma County kids entered kindergarten unprepared, and only 39 percent of Sonoma County third-graders are reading at grade level.

Conventional wisdom suggests universal preschool only benefits low-income families. Not so. High quality preschool does reduce gaps in achievement for low-income students. However, we now know that by making early education available and affordable to families of all incomes — including middle-class families — we can strengthen K-12 education for all our kids and put them on the path to success.

Even with these pressing needs, unfortunately there is a massive shortage of preschool seats in Sonoma County. More than 2,000 children are on the waiting list for early childhood education programs and cannot get in.

We need to provide more preschool slots to ensure that these kids who need preschool have a place to get it.

First 5 Sonoma County funds programs and services that promote, support and improve the early development of children through age five. However, we must do more to invest in early education to ensure that our children have a solid foundation to succeed and be competitive from the start.

As we encourage a countywide conversation on these needs through our public education initiative, First 5 Sonoma County is working to get input from residents on their priorities for the education and development of Sonoma County’s youngest children.

We want to hear from as many residents as possible throughout the county. Please take our “Ready to Learn” community survey online at www.first5sonomacounty.org/ready-to-learn.

Working together we can prepare the next generation for a better and more successful tomorrow. And as our children succeed, we gain the skilled workforce needed to keep our economy robust and the civic leadership to keep our communities strong.

NBLC 2016 Endorsements

NBLC makes the following endorsements for candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to providing balanced representation, a concern for economic competitiveness, and strong leadership skills:

Marin County Supervisors:

2nd District:  Katie Rice

3rd District:  Kate Sears

4th District:  Dominic Grossi

Sonoma County Supervisor:

5th District:  Lynda Hopkins

Napa County Supervisors:

2nd District:  Mark Luce

4th District:  Alfredo Pedroza

Assembly:

10th District:  Marc Levine

State Senate:

3rd District:  Bill Dodd

Ballot Measures:

Measure AA — Clean and Healthy Bay:   Vote Yes (See previous issue for reasons for support.)

Measure B — MARIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT BOND MEASURE: Vote Yes

Measure B includes: repairs and upgrades to facilities that are necessary to meet current building codes for earthquakes, fires, and safety; updates to classrooms, labs, and vocational education facilities to support the science, engineering, and technology courses students need to be prepared for four‐year college and careers; and facilities needed for support and job training for returning veterans. At the Indian Valley Campus, Measure B will allow COM to continue attracting students by providing the updated facilities necessary to offer specialized technical and career training programs — including for firefighters, paramedics and health care professionals — as well as transfer courses.  Measure B is critical to increasing enrollment and allowing the college to reach its full potential.

Moreover, this measure includes important fiscal accountability protections to ensure taxpayers dollars stay right here in our community, can’t be taken by the state and can’t be spent on administration.  NBLC agrees with the College of Marin board that students deserve quality, affordable higher education that prepares them for four‐year degrees and future careers.

Life sciences — building the economic well-being of Marin

NBLC is a member of the North Bay Life Science Alliance

Sometimes what’s going on hides in plain sight.

In the past couple of weeks, several reports have caught our attention both because of what they pointed out and because of what they implied about the economic vitality of Marin County, now and into the future.

Taken together, they celebrate the success of our efforts to attract new businesses and the accomplishments and recognition of those companies regionally and nationally.

A recent study by the prestigious Wall Street firm, the Jeffries Group, said it the most concisely, identifying five companies in the life sciences/bio-medical industry “poised for strong growth.”

Two, BioMarin and Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals, are headquartered in Marin, with major employee populations in Novato and San Rafael.

The others are in Boston, a Manhattan suburb and Washington D.C.

On one level, the recognition affirms the successful outreach of entities like the Novato City Council, the Marin Economic Forum, the California Life Science Association and the North Bay Life Science Alliance, a multi-county marketing organization.

Other Marin municipal and county governments have played a vital role in attracting a growing roster of companies that also includes Biosearch Technologies, Cytograft Tissue Engineering, Marin Biologic, Raptor and XCell Science.

While the majority are headquartered in Novato, BioMarin has major locations in both Novato and San Rafael.

Employment growth in Marin in the life sciences industry exceeded 350 in Novato alone during 2015. BioMarin also added 300 jobs at its San Rafael headquarters as it builds out its new global headquarters with a total spend of $185 million for the complex and related construction.

The standard measurement impact, the multiplier effect, indicates that the 300 new jobs create an additional 249.

New employment has major positive impact on the local economies, bringing high-paying jobs that attract a highly educated and skilled base of employees who in turn spend locally.

It also further reduces the Marin County unemployment rate, already the state’s lowest.

On another level, just as Napa and Sonoma counties have built national and global reputations based on the wine industry, Marin is in the process of becoming a “center” known for its presence in the bio-medical industry.

Novato-based Buck Institute, as well as our relative proximity to UCSF, combined with the financial deal-making that takes place in San Francisco, all bode well for continued expansion here.

The collaborative efforts of the North Bay Life Science Alliance bring together leaders from Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties, as well as academicians and scientists from the Buck Institute, Dominican University and Sonoma State University.

To be sure, our impact is part of a regional presence that encompasses Silicon Valley, the East Bay and Marin.

While Marin is one of the smallest counties in the area, with the slowest population growth, we have attracted significant investment, added vital jobs with nearly 200 companies.

In the region, more than 16,000 people are involved in the bio-medical field as both the public and private sector work with the business and real estate community to propel our local economies with smart growth.

The result is an efficient and successful government/private sector process, that while attracting companies to a specific industry also supports business of all sizes and interests. A recent example was the coordination by Novato EDC of training workshops provided by the state to business owners wishing to apply for tax credits from an already-funded program.

In 2014, two Novato businesses (Ultragenyx and XCell) received $2.2 million in state income tax credits because of similar guidance.

With the inauguration of SMART rail service later this year, as well as the modest expansion of airline service from the Santa Rosa Airport, we are confident that Marin will continue to be an attractive location for other companies that either are directly related in bio-medical research or provide the services that they require. Right in front of us and yet mostly out of sight.

By Robert Eyler and Christopher L. Stewart

Robert Eyler is chief economist of the Marin Economic Forum and Christopher L. Stewart is the manager of the city of Novato’s Economic Development Program and chairman of the North Bay Life Science Alliance.

http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20160407/LOCAL1/160409852#.VwbbWJhiChs.email

NBLC Endorses Measure B – Marin Community College District Bond Measure

NBLC knows that community colleges are the key to a skilled workforce and an economic engine for the North Bay.  We endorse Marin Community College District Bond Measure B, which will update and maintain College of Marin (COM) campuses. This bond measure will allow COM to make repairs and upgrades to facilities that are necessary to meet current building codes for earthquakes, fires, and safety; updates to classrooms, labs, and vocational education facilities to support the science, engineering, and technology courses students need to be prepared for four‐year college and careers; and facilities needed for support and job training for returning veterans.

At the Indian Valley Campus, Measure B will help to attract students by providing the updated facilities necessary to offer specialized technical and career training programs — including for firefighters, paramedics and health care professionals — as well as transfer courses. Measure B is critical to increasing enrollment and allowing the college to reach its full potential.

Moreover, this measure includes important fiscal accountability protections to ensure taxpayers dollars stay right here in our community, can’t be taken by the state and can’t be spent on administration.

NBLC urges a Yes vote on Measure B in the June 2016 primary.

NBLC Endorses Measure AA, the “Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure

North Bay Leadership Council endorses Measure AA, the measure to restore Baylands/wetlands and  increase flood protection, known as the “Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure,” on the June 2016 ballot. This measure would establish a $12 parcel tax ($1/month) on all property owners in all nine Bay Area counties. A two-thirds vote, Bay Area wide, is required to pass it. If successful, the measure would raise $500 million over 20 years to help fund restoration of more than 15,000 acres of wetlands and tidal marsh that act as natural barriers and would provide funding to construct miles of levees, while also increasing public access to the Bay. This measure is crucial to protecting the Bay and the region’s economy.

The San Francisco Bay is the heart of our region, and its health is central to our economy and our quality of life. Yet, if left unchecked, the increasing flood risks facing the Bay Area could cause major damage and severely cripple the region’s thriving economy. Sea level rise and increasing storm activity due to climate change coupled with an aging levee system and reduced wetlands have made the Bay Area vulnerable to devastating flood events. Compounding the threat, much of the region’s vital infrastructure is located at or below sea level, including airports, hospitals, water treatment plants and many miles of area highways. An estimated $10.4 billion in damages is at stake.

Here are some compelling facts on why the funding from this measure is needed:

  • Today, 355,000 Bay Area residents and $46.2 billion in building structures and contents are located on a 100-year flood plain in the nine-county Bay Area.
  • The San Francisco Bay rose 8 inches during the 20th century, and is projected to rise 3 feet in the current century.
  • The Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimates the region would suffer more than $10 billion in economic damages during a megastorm, about the same as the Loma Prieta earthquake. The North Bay (Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Solano Counties) could conservatively suffer $1.3 billion.
  • For $1.5 billion, the region could significantly improve its defenses by restoring 30,000 acres of wetlands with several miles of levee construction.
  • The flat $12 parcel tax would help leverage additional funds from state and federal sources.

Other endorsers include a broad coalition of environmental and business groups – including Save the Bay, Audubon California, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council.

Thanksgiving and Liberty

Thanksgiving is upon us. Time to think about the importance of giving thanks.  And how that virtue relates to other things we prize in our lives.  There is a strong connection between the virtue of gratitude and liberty.  The one of the qualities of gratitude is freedom.  In a post by Luke Holladay, he says, “Genuine gratitude requires free will.  Nobody can be coerced into being thankful, and no amount of incentives can manufacture gratitude.  Because gratitude is a choice, we also the option to spurn thankfulness and believe we deserve all we have been given.” G.K. Chesterton said it well, “There are two ways to get enough.  One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

Holladay reminds us that Congress proclaimed Thanksgiving to be holiday so it could be “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer … affording us an opportunity to peaceably establish a form of government for our safety and happiness.”  Says Holladay, “This Thanksgiving, let’s exercise our freedom by proclaiming gratitude.”

North Bay Leadership Council Candidate Endorsements

North Bay Leadership Council is proud to make the following endorsements for November 2015 election:

City of Novato:

Jeanne MacLeamy (inc.)

Eric Lucan (inc.)

Gary Butler

Please take the time to vote on November 3rd.

Happy Independence Day!

Our nation has seen wondrous things happen in the last weeks.  As we celebrate our Independence Day, it is a good time to reflect on the power of the people and the ability of our government to respond to its citizens.  Those who have felt powerless now see the possibility of better days.  Those who longed for equal rights to marriage or the comfort of health insurance can now be secure they are protected.

There is more to do, especially to end racism, but the past weeks give us renewed hope that change IS possible, that our system of government can work and that we, the people, once engaged and committed, can make the difference. Custom Laravel Development Services

It does get better.  America is beautiful.  And there is much to celebrate on this year’s anniversary of our nation’s birth.  Happy 4th of July!