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In a weekly column, alternately written by Lucien Engelen, Mary Fiers, Maarten Steinbuch, Carlo van de Weijer, Tessie Hartjes, and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. All six contributors – sometimes accompanied by guest bloggers – are working on solving the problems of our time. Everything to make Tomorrow Good. This Sunday, it‘s Lucien Engelen’ s turn, about employability and startups. Here are all the previously published columns.

“A start-up is great, but what about our current employees?”

A topic that should get more ‘air-time’ I think is the one about the employability of personnel for the upcoming decades.

Although I dearly embrace the start-up-spirit and I’m keen to support those endeavors, I also see some kind of disconnection on how institutions and governments go about with the ‘sitting-crew’. Nicely crafted grants, programs, and other incentivized tools are being used to speed up the start-up community, bringing a couple of extra people to the workforce and sometimes an awesome breakthrough in terms of funding gained etc. AND WE SHOULD DO THIS!

The blind spot in my opinion, however, is how to assist the current workforce into the new reality of a digital world. Why are new endeavors incentivized and are (change) programs for the existing workforce not?

Ok, for sure there is a responsibility for the employee, but think a moment about the scale. Recently I had a (small) debate with someone from out of our region stating they were instrumental for the employability for the region, creating startup activities that are leading to funding for those. I paused for a moment and replied he saw it all wrong: WE (as current employers) are instrumental as we (at Radboud UMC in my case) have well over 10.000 jobs, we want to keep those for the next decades, as opposed to creating tens of new jobs via start-up activities. Again, I’m heavily involved in start-up scene in our region and abroad, but I’m kind of flabbergasted by this blind spot. I have to bring this to the table also on a governmental level over and over again as I really think there is a joint responsibility of employers and government together here and we should be doing both. Too often we see that this only comes about when the ship is sinking already.

So let’s find a way to do and/and as opposed to or/or, which is now the case.