Ivanka Trump, Daughter and Advisor to the President of the United States Donald Trump spoke at length with President of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Gary Shapiro at CES 2020 earlier today.
In the audience were CES 2020 attendees, which included analysts, media, industry attendees amongst others. CTA-issued attendant wristbands ran out, and although no official numbers were released at time of publication, the Venetian advertises a seating capacity of 7,500 for the ballroom on their website.
The dialogue session focussed on “how the administration is advocating for employer-led strategies that invest in reskilling workers, create apprenticeships and develop K-12 STEM education programs”, according to the CES website.
During the forty minute-long keynote discussion, Shapiro and Trump covered a broad swathe of topics including innovation, marginalised communities, education, the hiring of ex-convicts, national human resource policy, parental leave and immigration.
Trump started with an overview of successes by the current administration. Highlighting low unemployment across all demographics, she also focussed on the improvements made in terms of inclusivity – with 73% of 2019 hires coming from marginalised communities or outside the workforce.
To close this gap, Trump highlighted how the administration had focused on historically black colleges to increase and stabilise funding – a key process to ensure a more diverse workforce. Ongoing projects to ease the hiring process with technology were mentioned – such as the ability to verify qualifications without the need for manual cross-referencing.
The surplus of skilled job vacancies has also sparked the demand for hiring ex-convicts, with projects focusing on STEM retraining in prisons taking flight with zero recidivism in some implementations.
Another attractive source of skilled workers is immigration, with Shapiro noting that both their mothers were hard-working immigrants. Ivanka Trump chuckled as she said, “the president says that he thinks it’s absolutely insane that we educate immigrants from across the world, and as they are about to start their businesses … [and] become employers – we throw them out of the country”.
However, Trump echoed her initial statement on the focus on improving the lives of every American, maintaining that though immigration reform would have “bipartisan agreement”, it “cannot displace the investment that needs to be made in improving the skills of marginalised Americans.”
“If we can’t come together on this, we can’t come together on anything,” Trump told Shapiro.
Trump’s keynote was underscored by a hearty response by tech industry attendees with applause and cheers as Trump came on stage, and as she shared the recently-signed landmark policy granting federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave.
“We cannot ask all of you to offer this benefit to your workforces unless we are able to do it ourselves,” Trump said.
However, tension and controversy surrounded Shapiro’s invitation to Trump in the lead-up to the keynote. Some felt that Ivanka Trump was unqualified when compared to many female tech veterans, and was a “lazy attempt to emulate diversity”.
Several other figures called for a boycott of the keynote or the whole CES show itself.
Shapiro himself had expressed disdain for President Trump following the latter’s remarks about immigration and Senator McCain. In a post on Medium, Shapiro said, “I will not hold meetings at or visit any Trump property or even watch any Trump TV show until he drops out of the presidential race and apologizes to those he slandered”.
The keynote broached several controversial and pertinent topics including President Trump’s impeachment and the most recent green-lighting of the assassination of Iranian military General Qassem Suleimani.
However, Ivanka Trump’s keynote at the CTA-organised CES might mark an optimistic turn in events. It marked the administration’s commitment to supporting innovation, encouraging high-skilled immigration and increasing diversity while noting the varied examples of success.
More importantly, it marks a detente in relations between the Trump Administration and the world of technology.