Business Leaders must consider it the price of entry for those who want to play in the arena where world-altering discovery takes place.
We all need to commit to keeping innovation alive and healthy. There’s much we must do to meet that objective, including training our people, funding research and development, helping our young people develop multidisciplinary skills and knowledge that are as vital to their future as they are to ours.
About 1.25 million students nationwide are poised to graduate from college and enter the job market for the first time. So, it’s a good time for all of us to examine the skills essential to shaping society.
We live in a time of unprecedented advances in every endeavor. New advances bring new ideas, which will create career opportunities that we cannot even imagine today.
For example, the Internet and new technologies have led to the creation of clever computer systems that can detect everything from hackers to hurricanes; software that tells computers what to do—from checking inventory to placing an order to shipping a package; and powerful, self-repairing machines that can think on their own so that people can do more important things.
What are the fruits of new technology?
- New ways to envision and build the physical environment.
- New ways of integrating knowledge and technology to enhance health.
- New ways to serve customers.
- New forms of creative expression.
- A new, more flexible business model in which the expertise embodied in an enterprise and its people will be its real advantage and differentiator.
As a result, business leaders, politicians, teachers, and parents—all of us need to take a longer view of what education has to offer. Our business and society now change so fast that skills deteriorate rapidly. So, the only education worth having is one that gives students a taste of what’s out there now, and, more important, what lies ahead.
We are living in an age defined by technology and by the pervasive impact the Internet has on how we live, learn, and earn. We can ill-afford to discourage technical skills at a time when our economy and global competitiveness demand all the technically qualified people we can get.
But universities must move quickly to identify and develop advanced programs in disciplines that are emerging as a result of advances in information technology. Our institutions must recognize that the key to success will not be found within established areas, but from new forms of collaboration that span multiple industries, professions, and disciplines.
We will need not just software developers, but also quantum physicists. Not just computer engineers, but computational biologists. In the technology industry alone, developments in grid computing, wireless connectivity, and data-mining have pervasive application in everything from pharmaceutical and genomic research to weather forecasting to electric-utilities management. And companies must focus on attracting and retaining women and minorities in IT positions. Without them, we will never live up to our full potential.
It’s time for a deeper partnership between academia and industry in order to help people develop the right skills in education for the new jobs created in the on-demand world.