Future of work:  An Eisenhower Fellowships’ Global Conference



Malaga, Spain

September 14-17, 2017


The place and function of work in society is changing dramatically, driven and evidenced by increasingly rapid advances in technology, altered business models, increased labor mobility, migration patterns, aging societies and booming youth populations, among other factors. These powerful drivers in the transformation of work have implications for lives and livelihoods, affecting human security, economic growth and political stability. Shaping and adapting to these megatrends requires multi-disciplinary business and social approaches that mark the work of the nearly 1,500 Eisenhower Fellows worldwide.


Eisenhower Fellowships plans to host a global conference that gathers leaders from all sectors to analyze the key drivers shaping the future of work, harnessing the collective knowledge and experience of the EF global network to open channels for cross-border collaboration to contribute thought leadership and real-world solutions to emerging challenges.


More than 2200 leaders in 108 countries have become Eisenhower Fellows since our first program in 1954.  Four have been heads of government and more than 100 have served at minister level or above. More than 300 have headed major corporations, from heavy industry to high tech firms. Eisenhower Fellows lead major universities, national media and influential nongovernmental organizations.




This proposal is for a global EF conference co-sponsored by two separate EF Country Chapters: Spain and Jordan, working across different regions, united by a common theme generated by our Fellows with worldwide importance and implications. The conference, in turn, would set the stage for a targeted EF Regional Program in the Middle East later that fall. Both elements of this proposal have the unanimous support of the Global Network Council of our leading Fellows around the world and the Executive Committee of the EF Board of Trustees.


 Discussions among the Fellows within the Global Network Council generated the theme of the conference:  the Future of Work. This unifying topic will bring together the entire EF global network to explore a vital subject critical to countries around the world—from the Middle East to Africa to Europe to Asia to Latin America and the United States: How do we provide productive, fulfilling, sustainable work for marginalized young men and women that would give them a greater stake and role in the future of their societies?


EF accepted the officer from the Spanish chapter to host the global event in Malaga, Spain.  Malaga is a beautiful city, with a growing influence of innovative startup firms, in a strategic and historic location.  This topic has deep implications in Spain, and across the larger region, where Europe is undergoing an immigration crisis of immense proportions from the historic exodus of humanity we are seeing from the Middle East and Africa—where we are about to hold the first regional program in EF’s history focused exclusively on the sub-continent.


EF brings together the dramatic strategic situation in the Middle East, rapidly spilling over into Europe, to be addressed in a global EF conference, set in Malaga, the capital of Andalusia, a place of great historic and symbolic importance to the entire Muslim world, and today a crossroads between Africa, Europe and the Middle East.


The conference will:



  • Put on center stage a dramatic example of collaboration between Eisenhower Fellows across                 national borders and regions
  • Integrate our new African Fellows into the EF global network
  • Bring together Fellows from across the EF global network
  • Encourage Fellows to work with the co-host countries to develop world-class content centered on       this topic which is relevant to so many

Event Focus



  • Under this conceptual umbrella, we could explore subthemes in panels and breakout sessions that look at many important dimensions of this challenge, including: 
  • The need for Africa to create millions of new jobs each year for the next generation to support its population boom/dramatic population growth (by 2050, the UN predicts that Africans will make up a quarter of the world’s population).
  • The need to invest marginalized young people in the future of their societies to address the allure of Islamic State and other radical movements.
  • The migration crisis engulfing developed and developing countries alike.
  • Looming obstacles to the widespread creation of even skilled jobs with the rapid advance of Artificial Intelligence and the need for widespread innovation to ensure a future of work that serves the greater good around the world. 


Thematic streams to consider (with programming that can be developed under each)

  • Migration: Refugees (with a special focus on the Middle East and Africa), labor mobility, return migration/brain drain
  • Tech & Innovation: artificial intelligence, skills-building, work on demand
  • Work in Society: Purpose of work, underemployment unpaid labor (particularly in regards to gender), economic growth, social stability
  • The Crossroads: Public-Private approaches to innovation; the need for ecosystems to foster the growth of SMEs; the role of civil society
  • All of these are subjects will resonate in Malaga, and across our global network.   In looking to see where EF can generate the most impact, we would use a Malaga conference in September of 2017 in advance of an EF Middle East program which will commence in October. It would be the first EF Middle East regional program in 12 years.
  • Eisenhower Fellows are leading efforts in all sectors that are highly relevant to shaping the future of work. The conference will result in concrete outcomes to advance solutions to the challenges addressed during two days of discussions.  These would include:
  • Individual public pledges from conference attendees on a concrete action or initiative they will undertake in their given field related to the future of work.
  • The establishment of at least three EF network collaborations involving the host chapters and/or other Eisenhower Fellows centered on building skills and capacity. 
  • Showcase thought leadership in the form of a series of “EF Solutions” extracted from the conference, to be publicly disseminated via EF’s Huffington Post page, thus contributing to the broader global debate and opening up additional doors for potential partnerships.
  • As a result of the conference, we anticipate a number of concrete collaborations focused on creating employment solutions and opportunities.  A series of EF blog posts will document some of these collaborations and potential solutions to wider audiences.  

Proposed Structure and Audience


A conference steering committee comprised of Eisenhower Fellows, supporters and subject experts will be formed to advise and develop all aspects of the conference, including content, logistics and fundraising.  A work plan and budget will be developed by the conference steering committee. 


The Malaga conference will be a major multi-day event including site visits, workshops and working meetings in addition to panels and keynotes.   We expect there will be a gala dinner featuring a keynote speaker, and at least one or two other noted outside speakers at the conference.




The Eisenhower Fellowship network is a primary target for the event.  So are external participants interested in advancing the dialogue on the Future of Work.  We would expect 250-300 attendees from five continents to participate.




The event is scheduled from September 14-17, 2017.