5 things Trump must discuss in meeting with Silicon Valley leaders to ensure US tech success

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On Monday, US President Donald Trump will meet with executives from some 20 major tech firms to discuss how the government can cut costs through improved IT. Executives from Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, IBM, Mastercard, Intel, Qualcomm, Oracle, and Adobe will attend the meeting, according to a Reuters report.

According to Reuters, White House officials said the Trump administration found an “economic opportunity” to save up to $1 trillion over 10 years by cutting government IT costs, improving IT to reduce spending, leveraging government purchasing power, and cutting fraud across government agencies.

The US government spends more than $80 billion on IT annually, excluding classified operations, according to a 2016 US Government Accountability Office report cited by Reuters. Additionally, in 2015, the US government invested in at last 7,000 separate IT projects, with some agencies still using components of legacy systems that were at least 50 years old.

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While these are important issues, it would behoove the tech leaders to bring up a number of other industry concerns as well. Here are the five things Trump should address with these tech executives to ensure the US tech industry remains competitive.

1. Cloud

In May, Trump signed an executive order on cybersecurity, with plans for addressing security in federal IT and across US infrastructure, including a mandate that all federal IT systems move to the cloud. While the move to the cloud could help modernize the government’s approach to security, it could also create a central point of attack for hackers, as TechRepublic’s Conner Forrest reported.

Monday’s meeting is set to address “making it easy for agencies to use the cloud,” Reuters reported.

2. Automation

A recent Forrester report found that robots will take 24.7 million jobs by 2027, but will also create 14.9 million new jobs by that time. Manual labor and repetitive menial tasks will likely be the most impacted by these job losses, the report found, but some white collar jobs will be lost as well. As many Americans are concerned about the coming job losses, Trump and the panel of tech executives should work to develop a strategy for addressing automation’s coming impact on the workforce.

3. Security

As hackers build increasingly sophisticated cyber weapons and large scale breaches continue to plague the private sector, cybersecurity is on the list of topics set to be addressed by Trump’s American Technology Council. Cybercriminals exposed personal information from 22 million people from US government databases back in 2015. The government, private sector, and general public must become more aware of cyber issues, and how to prevent and mitigate them.

4. Visas

During the meeting, the tech executives and White House officials plan to discuss Trump’s review of the US H1-B visa program for bringing high-skill foreign workers to the US, which many tech firms utilize to fill IT roles. The number of available H-1B visas will remain the same through fiscal year 2018, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

5. Filling tech jobs

There are currently half a million unfilled tech jobs in the US, and an estimated 1 million open cybersecurity jobs worldwide. Building a talent pipeline of new employees or retraining current workers will be imperative to keep the industry competitive and innovative, and is a topic that the top tech leaders should address with the president soon.

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Image: Getty/Nicholas Kamm

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