Both the EU and the US have ten year plans to raise the technical skills in their home nations, in order to be able to compete in the ever more competitive global economy.
The American Competitive Initiative is perhaps easier to achieve because it relies on existing programmes. It focuses on funding for the physical sciences (important for high-tech industries such as telecoms) and it also encourages the growth of highly-skilled mathematicians and scientists.
The idea is to have a working population of highly proficient employees. They do not need to be PhDs but just to be technically capable.
The EU Commission, on the other hand, is disappointed with the progress of its 10 year plan announced in Lisbon in 2000. So it has reoriented its goals to focus on four core aims: raising spending on research and higher education to 3% and 2% of GDP respectively; making it easier to start a business; freeing up labour markets; and improving access to sustainable energy supplies.
Some European business representatives are sceptical though and would like to see less red tape and less tax, for instance, on profits retained by businesses for research and reinvestment.
Source: Managing Globalization
International Herald Tribune, 24 May 2006
Review by Morice Mendoza