Citing "Critical Situation" in Science and Math, Business Groups Urge Approval of New National Agenda for Innovation
Saying our "scientific and technical capacity is beginning to atrophy even as other nations are developing their own human capital," 15 leading business organizations have called for doubling the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates by the year 2015.
"The critical situation in American innovation threatens to undermine our standard of living at home and our leadership in the world," said John J. Castellani, President of Business Roundtable, which organized the business groups in this effort. "We cannot wait for another Sputnik to propel our energy forward in this area.
"The good news is that a strong consensus has emerged on what needs to be done to bolster American innovation and maintain our scientific and technological leadership. Now we must mobilize Americans to adopt and carry out some straightforward solutions that will make a significant difference for our students and our economy.”
The groups – representing businesses of every size and from every sector of the economy – released an action plan entitled, "Tapping America’s Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative." It focuses on five areas:
- Building public support to make improvement in these fields a national priority by launching an awareness campaign;
- Motivating students and adults to study and enter careers in these disciplines, with a special effort geared to those in underrepresented groups, through incentives such as scholarship and internship opportunities, and the expansion of undergraduate retention programs;
- Upgrading elementary and secondary teaching in math and science to foster higher student achievement;
- Reforming visa and immigration policies to enable the U.S. to attract and retain top science, technology, engineering and math students from around the world to study and stay to work in the U.S.; and
- Boosting and sustaining funding for basic research, especially in the physical sciences and engineering.
“We are falling far behind on the number of our students graduating in the fields of math and science, and it is critical for the business community to be engaged in changing this trend," said Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It is from math and science that we have enjoyed the many technological innovations of the past hundred years, and they are the key to our future economic growth and security."