Cisco chairman John Chambers has an idea for how the US can create another 1 million jobs a year

Cisco John ChambersBusiness InsiderCisco executive chairman John Chambers

For the first time, the US isn’t leading the world when it comes to the next big thing in tech, warns Cisco executive chairman John Chambers.

He says the US is the only developed nation that doesn’t have some kind of overall “digital strategy” to bring the latest and greatest tech to its citizens while updating people’s skills along the way.

Cisco’s former-CEO-turned-executive chairman made these comments on Wednesday at the Boxworks tech conference in an interview with Box’s CEO Aaron Levie.

Chambers has been warning businesses that if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies like mobile devices and the Internet of Things, they face extinction.

He predicts that at least 40% of companies will die in the next 10 years and calls that number “conservative.”

Chambers says the big surprise is that governments around the world are actually jumping on the digital revolution.

For instance, Chambers applauds India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Silicon Valley. Chambers said he spent three hours talking with Modi on Sunday night and admires his “Digital India” vision to bring high-speed internet to the country’s 1.2 billion citizens.

Modi “is going to create 1 million new jobs per month, which is what they have to do absorb their workforce,” Chambers says.

“They will wire a 100 smart cities, 240,000 villages and their goal is to do this at 1/5 to 1/10 the cost with 5-10 times the power,” Chambers explained.

He also talked up France as leading example, with its France Digital mission “that is partnering with businesses to generate 1 million jobs in the next three years,” Chambers said.

“Same thing in Germany, same thing in the UK, same thing in Italy and around the world.” Note that Cisco sells products to most of the countries he mentioned.

Levie, who is known for his huge sense of humour, remarked “Sounds like America is screwed.”

After a very long pause (which caused the audience to burst out in laughter), Chambers responded, “This is the first time our country, and especially our government, has not led in a technology transition. I’m a strong Republican but President Clinton got it right in the mid ’90s with the function of the internet.”

Chambers said that thanks to the internet, the US generated “22 million jobs, 18% growth of real GDP, 17% growth in average American income. That’s going to happen again in India, France and the UK,” he said.

“Our government has been remarkably slow,” he added. “We are the only country that is not articulating a digital strategy. So instead of getting really excited about 200-250,000 jobs being generated every month, we ought to be thinking, what does it take to get 300-350,000 jobs, an extra million, if you will, during the year?”

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