education laying the
foundation for a student’s interest in academics and ability to attend
college, support of the country’s
public schools must be a significant
concern of business leaders’, whose
companies’ futures rely on a work
force that is prepared to meet the
demands of the global marketplace.
Corporate funding of
higher-education initiatives often is a priority in philan- Investing in Education:
thropic endeavors—after all,
college campuses are where companies find interns and new recruits who can begin working immediately. But Today’s
equally as important is sup-
porting the lower level of this country’s education sys- tem, the elementary and sec- ondary schools that prepare Fourth-Graders
students to thrive in college
and in the workplace.
“You think about today’s
sixth-graders; it sometimes
seems far off but it’s not
long before they’re going to be your coworkers,” says Cathy Lipe, strategy devel- opment manager for corpo- Employees
rate philanthropy at
Hewlett-Packard, No. 31 on
The DiversityInc Top 50
Companies for Diversity list.
One thing is certain: If this country stays the course, businesses are in
trouble. U.S. teenagers ranked near
the bottom of the world’s industrialized nations in math skills in a 2004
international comparison. The
United States ranked 24th among
the 29 countries that are members of
the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development,
which sponsored the study. The
United States was in the middle of
the pack in reading and science,
placing behind countries such as
China, South Korea and Canada.
Compounding the problem are the continuing disparate education rates
among people of color, who are racing toward nationwide majority-minority
status. People of color are poised to become the majority of the country’s workers and customers, but Latinos and blacks are graduating from high school and
college at lower rates than their white and Asian-American counterparts.
The Brain Drain
If the U.S. education system does not take drastic steps to catch up quickly,
U.S. jobs, particularly those in the well-paying technology sector, will be
moved to countries that have surged ahead of the United States in math and
science education of their workers.
Are Your Future
BY T.J. DEGROAT
ILLUSTRATION BY LISA K. WEBER
Because of improved communication technology, the transfer of high-wage jobs to lower-cost overseas locations is easier than ever. While this
helps companies reach new foreign markets, it also has the very real potential to devastate the U.S. economy.
Manufacturing jobs were the first to go, but software-development and
other high-tech jobs have followed. Forrester Research has projected that as
many as 3. 3 million white-collar jobs creating $136 billion in wages will be
moved from the United States to lower-cost locations by 2015. The economy lost 560,000 jobs at high-tech firms between 2001 and 2003.
There is growing acknowledgment that as countries such as China and India
are leaping into the future with better-educated work forces and improved
technology, the United States is losing the same resources. If trends continue,
according to a 2005 report by the Business Roundtable, more than 90 percent
of all scientists and engineers in the world will be living in Asia.