As Harvard Business Review has focused this month on U.S. competitiveness, one theme has been the challenge of training the next generation of leaders. Harvard Business School’s Bill George arguedthat in the coming decades, leading firms will require “substantial cadres of leaders capable of operating effectively anywhere in the world.” And Merck’sMirian Graddick-Weir wrote of the need to develop more creative problem-solvers – leaders who can think “critically, analytically, and with imagination.”
Unfortunately, one major stumbling block to producing these kinds of cosmopolitan, creative leaders — the leaders we need to compete in the world — is our public education system.
Stacey Childress, who leads the Next Generation Learning group at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, fleshed out the scope of the problem. “The United States must recognize that its long-term growth depends on dramatically increasing the quality of its K-12 public education system,” she wrote. But that system is badly in need of repair. “By 2018, if today’s college graduation rates hold as steady as they have for decades, the U.S. will be short at least 3 million college-educated workers for the projected 101 million jobs that will require a degree.”
One of the charts from Stacey’s article is reprinted below. It’s not uplifting, but it does underline the severity of the challenge U.S. public schools face. How would you remedy the problem? Let us know in the comments.
By Sarah Green. Harvard Business Review