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Education and the Financial Crisis

August 11, 2011

Wilbur Ross is a multibillionaire. His fortune built by buying and restructuring failed businesses. As a savvy investor who predicted the fall of the American financial system just a few years ago, you could say he is a man who commands respect.

 

Yesterday morning, Mr. Ross spoke on NPR (National Public Radio) about the new U.S. financial crisis. During this interview, Mr. Ross made a very interesting point – the reason Americans can’t find work is because the corporate giants have lost weight. They are more efficient than ever, able to increase productivity while decreasing their need for labor. And the jobs they do need to create – the proverbial “jobs of tomorrow” – are difficult to fill because our education system is failing to properly groom students for those jobs.

 

At the same time, The Chronicle of Higher Education published this article about how Latin American countries are encouraging more students to study abroad. According to “Samir Zaveri, international operations director for BMI, a company that organizes education fairs in Latin America, ‘the idea is that they come back with more skills and help the economy and help with its growth, especially in areas where there are shortages.’” For your information, those areas are science, technology, and engineering.

 

The good news: American institutions of higher education are still considered the best in the world, so they are attracting these international students. The bad news: these bright minds end up taking their newfound knowledge back home.

 

Domestically, our issue is more conceptual than technical. The problem isn’t just the education system itself; it’s the American mindset. We’ve become too complacent to innovate. And while the developing world around us is taking off, we seem to have missed the flight.

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