I had an anonymous contributor send in a comment on this topic in an earlier post (see Assembly budget cuts college for 200 back on July 30, 2007) and thought it required its own thread. Here's his/her message:
Hate to come into this so late, how about reviving this topic? It really needs to become "top of mind".
Just finished "Innovation Nation" by John Kao (don't want to tell anyone what to read, but I would say this is a "must read"). Currently reading "The Elephant and the Dragon" by Robyn Meredith. I am doing it for self-preservation - trying to learn more about the global economy to modify my investing style.
Here are a few things from "Innovation Nation": China's investment in education of it's population is projected to result in China have more English speakers by 2025 than the rest of the world combined. If current trends continue, by 2010 90% of all scientists & engineers in the world could be living in Asia. China & Indian turn out 6.5 million college graduates a year, five times as many as the US. Nearly 1 million are engineers, versus 70,000 US engineering graduates each year. Ever hear of the "Biopolis" initiative in Singapore? - they actually select doctoral candidates (about 500 are in the program) and pay for their graduate education, as well as a tax-free five-year living allowance worth $750,000 in U.S. dollars.
There is a certain momentum effect going on too - remember how social/political changes took off in the late 60's/early 70's? Well, globally we are going to see big changes real fast, and by the time the US catches on to that, it will be too late.
Sorry to go on so long - again, when you have time, I hope you can give this topic some serious discussion.
The numbers I've been given by people who study this sort of thing suggest that, in terms of education, the US is exactly where it was, in terms of manufacturing, in 1982. We were on top of the world with the dawn of India and China only a faint glow on the horizon.
The sun is up.
MIT used to be the #1 engineering school in the world. Today, it's the second choice for Indian engineering students. The Wisconsin legislature continues to chop away at the UW System budget because they believe, apparently, that education is a bad way to invest our tax dollars. Wisconsin is already 34th in the nation in terms of percentage of workers with bachelor's degrees. At this rate, we'll fall behind Mississippi (we're already behind Texas) in no time.
We might be able to live with that. I'm not sure how comfortable we'll be when we fall behind Singapore, Taiwan, and the economic development zones around Pudong and Wuxi. Right now companies in China still have to bring in management from outside. Pretty soon they'll be producing their own and then -- they won't need us anymore.
We should all remember, with a slight chill, that this is what happened to France.
Maybe our cream sauces and fashion sense will be as good.