Really good article by James Dyson on business week. Education is key to long term success. To make the economy build to last you have to focus on education at every level…
Photograph of Lewis Hine/Redux Photo
President Obama is right: America’s long-term success hinges on its ability to invent technology the world wants. It seems simple, but getting America back in the business of making things isn’t. It’s a global process. An idea born in Silicon Valley could be engineered in Switzerland, tested in China, and assembled in Taiwan. A stimulus to boost manufacturing may help the U.S. economy in the short term, but reinvigorating postwar-style production or space-race ingenuity is impossible without an increasingly capable workforce. Business demands it. And without it, long-term success will remain elusive.
These days manufacturing extends far beyond the assembly line. It’s about inventing and solving problems: researching, testing, and experimenting with ideas and technology. The development of new products more and more defies borders. It’s impossible to make electronic goods exclusively on U.S. or U.K. soil—the supplier base, infrastructure, and often the expertise needed to produce everything from electric cars to solar panels is dispersed.
Within that context, it’s easier to understand why highly skilled jobs are going the way of assembly and manufacture. New research by the National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that more companies are taking research and development—and 85 percent of the new jobs it creates—overseas. Still, this is by no means a one-way street. As Caterpillar shifts some R&D abroad, it’s considering moving parts of its manufacturing operations back to the U.S. Creating new products is no longer one size fits all.
But constructing an economy that’s built to last depends on a ready supply of talented individuals: people who invent, create, and develop the ideas that will drive exports and those who can assemble them. China gets it. To make its economy more knowledge and technology intensive, China is investing heavily in science and engineering education, infrastructure, and R&D support. Already wages are increasing, the middle class is growing, and the country is developing new technology rather than just assembling products. And while the U.S. continues to file more patents than any other country, the Far East’s investment in R&D, fueled by China, matched U.S. contributions in 2009, according to the National Science Board’s report, Science and Engineering Indicators 2012.
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