Sunday, May 5, 2013

America: Losing Its Innovative-Factor?


America was originally a nation built on manufacturing, but that has since largely moved overseas, particularly to Asia.  Now, the latest question is whether our nation is also losing the ability to innovate.

With the movement of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries, the workers in those countries are now learning how to make the products that are invented in the United States, and are becoming increasingly advanced at also inventing their own.  Consequently, it is more important than ever that our country be able to innovate better than others so that we remain tops.  Innovation drives future success of a country, so the potential of falling behind is  a serious concern.

For America to remain tops amongst the most innovative countries, it is key to have workers with the necessary skill sets.  These include, but are not limited to, engineering.   Science and math are not receiving the attention they should in our school systems, and there is a gap particularly in the number of girls who go on to study engineering and other technical fields after high school.

Another concern is that foreign students frequently come to the United States for school, are trained in our universities, earn engineering degrees, then go back to their home country to apply the skills.  While it is great that we have acclaimed schools that students from across the world desire to attend, it makes it even more challenging for our country to compete when the students we train end up leaving.

So, what's the solution?  We need to build an interest in the science and math fields from a young age.  The curriculum in these areas needs to be further developed to generate interest, and extra activities such as science camps should be supported and made more widely available to children.  This educational push should be continued through high school, and more scholarships should be offered to students who are entering majors that are in high demand to keep our country on the forefront of innovation.

Furthermore, once we have the students trained in these fields, companies need to focus on innovation.  There are already a large number that do so, but also a large number that are just trying to survive, rather than create and dream big.  Companies need to make it acceptable for employees to take big swings, even if they fail.  It takes failures to eventually produce successes.  Failure needs to be accepted, because when failure is unacceptable, the risks of innovating become too high for employees.

The US has great talent, but innovation needs to remain a focus, and having the correct skill set is crucial.

Here's an article that provides further insights on this topic:

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