The Business Horizon Quarterly (BHQ) is the Emerging Issues team's signature publication. Its purpose is to share informed insights on emerging issues facing the American business community. By asking questions like “what is growth?” and “what is innovation?”, we aim to inform and to spur debate.
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For several years now, there has been a lot of talk in the United States about “change.” Facing sluggish economic growth, a stubborn unemployment rate, and a business community uncertain about the future, there is no doubt America needs fresh, bold new ideas. But not all change is good—and not all change benefits U.S. businesses and workers or bolsters the country’s innovative and entrepreneurial foundation.
That is why America’s national imperative must be to develop and foster the game-changing ideas, innovations, and products, as well as skilled workers who can ensure U.S. growth and success for generations to come.
In the seventh issue of the Business Horizon Quarterly (BHQ), we explore the need for and emergence of real game changers who make progress happen. These inherently disruptive, creative, and empowering actors and actions are capable of helping industries, communities, and local, state, and national leaders to rise above long-standing obstacles to new heights of success and leadership.
For example, there is great potential in the innovation clusters and other research and development partnerships arising across the country and inspiring more students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields that will help fuel the development of new technologies and products.
With the U.S. economy continuing to be stuck in idle and unemployment trapped at alarmingly high levels, it’s a good time to look for game changers—events, policies, and people that might significantly disrupt the status quo and propel the American economy forward.
To unearth those game changers, it helps to consider some of the nation’s history as a guide. As with earlier disruptive periods in America’s long-unfolding economic story, the game changers often come from beyond our shores. Simply put, we need to bring more of the world’s most talented people to the United States.
To understand why a new wave of skilled immigration might fundamentally change the game here at home, it’s important to understand what makes the U.S. economy unique. After all, a game changer for America might not work for a country like Japan, Sweden, or India.
Three things, when combined together, make the United States almost uniquely suited to benefitting from a wave of skilled immigrants.
The United States is the dominant nation today at the technology frontier. Given its size, the diversity of its work force, and its unrivalled research universities and technical institutes, American innovators are always pushing the technological envelope. This is true in areas as diverse as information systems and communications, biotechnology, manufacturing, energy, pharmaceuticals, and more.
Following the release of a report on the nation’s manufacturing employee skills gap by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte in October 2011, concern among American manufacturers has focused on how to resolve this seemingly persistent human capital problem. The good news is that there are nationwide human resource development initiatives now underway to address this manufacturing sector employee skills gap. In this report, we describe some of the key training initiatives that have emerged recently to close the critical skills gap. To address the more immediate short-term demands for skilled factory workers, certification programs like the “Right Skills Now” program are training workers in accelerated, fast-track programs. Additionally, some manufacturers have renewed their own traditional company-focused programs to train skilled workers internally. For the longer term workforce needs of U.S. manufacturers, applied training programs that include industry internships are being actively developed by community colleges around the country.