To Keep America Great, Students Must Be Taught to Innovate

Winners in tomorrow's economy will be those who create, not just consume, the next great technologies.

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Finally, private companies can help shape curricula to reflect industry trends and the needs of modern employers. Take service industries, which now account for approximately 75 percent of all jobs in the United States and virtually all projected employment growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The private sector can help universities update their curricula to prepare students for these industries. IBM, for one, is working with universities to develop coursework in service science, management, and engineering (SSME). The National Association of Manufacturers is leading a similar effort to establish standardized curricula at community colleges with the goal of preparing students for industrial skills.

Here's a telling statistic about the failure to innovate: Of the top 25 industrial corporations in the United States in 1900, only two remained on that list at the start of the 1960s. And of the top 25 companies in 1960, only six remain there today. This week marks IBM's centennial, a significant milestone for any company, and especially a company in the technology industry. In its 100 years as an international business, IBM has learned that innovation is the key to vitality. Constant innovation allows a company to build a business for tomorrow while it manages the businesses of today. To compete in a global, high-tech, and ever-evolving economy, the United States must find new and creative ways to invest in the science, technology, engineering, and math education that fuels innovation. We cannot be content to become a nation of technology consumers. By fostering STEM education, the United States can become a land of creators, and the birthplace of 100 more IBMs.

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