The Bloomberg Innovation Index named South Korea as the top country in the world for research and development, manufacturing resources, and concentration of high-tech corporations. Singapore followed in second place, and Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden filled out the top five. European countries with the exception of Israel occupied the top 10.
Published annually, the index reflects data gathered by multiple global organizations, including the United Nations and World Bank. The United States and China, as the largest economies, were notably absent from the top 10. Traditionally, the United States had held the top spot, but declines in research and development and STEM education have become increasingly evident on the world stage.
New Patents Put South Korea On Top
A surge in patent activity within South Korea earned it the top rank for 2020. South Korean public and private leadership almost universally recognize that the country’s future depends on R&D said a professor at Seoul National University. For that reason, the society heavily promoted STEM education.
U.S. Still Riding Cold War Coattails
A professor at Case Western Reserve University criticized the state of R&D in the United States. He said large U.S. companies mostly prioritize “frivolous” consumer-related technology innovations. The private sector’s success still derived primarily from the country’s technical advances from the 1960s and 1970s when R&D was a central focus.
Fewer STEM Graduates In The U.S.
The high cost of higher education in the United States appears to be stifling the number of people getting STEM degrees. Additionally, international students studying in the United States tend to return to their countries of origin.
The decline of the STEM workforce has concerned the U.S. military. A January 2021 report from the Pentagon about the nation’s industrial base expressed alarm about shortages of qualified workers. The report said that the U.S. STEM education system had become degraded. As a result, U.S. industry no longer had sufficient access to technical talent.
Has a lack of talented candidates affected your company? Comment about the quality of STEM candidates for new positions.
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