A few months ago I wrote about my first trip to Rio. One of the observations that had jumped out at me at the time was the repeated message from IT services firms: Lack of skilled labor was their biggest challenge. Forrester's Forrsights survey findings confirm: Education and skilled labor is the No. 1 constraint to technology implementation globally, particularly in emerging markets. In Brazil, 58% of respondents in our Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker, Q4 2010 survey reported concern about insufficient skilled technical labor or relevant technical training as an obstacle to implementing IT solutions. That compares with only 16% reporting skills as an obstacle in the UK.
That message has been repeated to me several times since during trips to emerging markets. On my visit to Orange Business Services' (OBS's) Major Service Center (MSC) in Mauritius last month, the OBS team emphasized that they had selected Mauritius as a strategic location in part because of the availability of skilled labor. Mauritius, with an emphasis on information and communications technology (ICT) as the third pillar of its economy, has a goal of doubling its ICT labor force in three years. The government recently announced an ICT Academy with industry partnership to train 1.3 million young people and promote the software and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries in the country. ICT vendors and services providers such as OBS are participating in that initiative.
Recently, two top-tier American universities announced plans to launch new global satellite campuses. Yale University will partner with the National University of Singapore to set up a joint campus in Singapore, and MIT, which already has a global campus in Abu Dhabi, is partnering with the Skolkovo Foundation to develop a graduate research university in Skolkovo, Russia. Yale University and MIT are not the only universities to expand globally. In fact, having a global satellite campus (or even multiple global satellite campuses) is a growing trend among universities trying to remain competitive in an increasingly global world (see the “flight map” figure below).
The expansion of universities poses a huge opportunity for technology vendors who are already accustomed to “going global.” Technology vendors can offer universities a way to bridge the geography gap through technologies such as intercampus networks, videoconferencing, and content-sharing platforms that allow students and faculty at global campuses to stay connected with the home campus. However, vendors need to be aware of the many challenges that are inherent in education ICT. To learn more about the global campus phenomenon and how vendors can seize this opportunity, check out my latest report, "Opportunities In Education’s Global Expansion: Tap Global Enterprise Experience and Local Expertise."
“Winning the Future” was the theme of the recent US State of the Union address. With the global economy and new education performance rankings as our “sputnik moment,” the president urged Congress to invest in the future – and in education. As put it in the speech,
Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future -– if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas -– then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.
So what exactly was the sputnik moment, or one of them? In the recently released OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, the US didn’t do so well. US students were average performers in reading (rank 14 in OECD) and science (rank 17) but well the below the OECD average in mathematics (rank 25). The new top fliers in the PISA study are: Shanghai, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Finland, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
According to the OECD report,
Education is the single most critical investment to raise the long-run growth potential of countries. In the global economy, the performance of education systems is the yardstick for success, particularly in light of the fundamental technological and demographic challenges that are re-shaping our economies.
Education has been top of mind for me lately with my upcoming report scheduled to launch this week (stay tuned). So, as I looked through the notes and quotes from the meeting I was heartened to see that education was top of mind there as well. Education and education reform certainly peppered the program, part of sessions on everything from new realities and inclusive growth, to women and society, national innovation, the net generation, cancer, regional development, cloud economics , entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and the ageing workforce.
Some of the questions addressed – and to which education and investment in education in particular was often a solution – included:
If structural change is a new reality, then what major adjustments should leaders prepare for, and how?
How can educating and empowering girls and women impact the acute challenges facing the world?
How are national innovation systems created and maintained?
In the digital era, how is the "net generation" workforce reshaping the future of business?
What innovations, if scaled or replicated, would enable the Middle East to achieve its geopolitical, economic and social aspirations for the future?
“School Bond Measure Fails” seems a common headline these days. In fact, a quick Google search found that school bond measures and tax levies have just this fall failed all over the US, notably in Santa Clara County, which was characterized as “tax friendly.” However, despite the hardships of raising money for schools, per-pupil spending continues to increase – having increased steadily from just over $500/pupil in 1919-20 to $11,674/pupil in 2006-07, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
One place that the expenditure has been going has been toward technology investments. The number of computers in public elementary and secondary schools has increased: in 2005, the average public school contained 154 instructional computers, compared with only 90 in 1998. More importantly, the percentage of instructional rooms with access to the Internet increased from 51 percent in 1998 to 94 percent in 2005.
Yesterday I got a sneak peak at the new Intel Classmate PC, both the clamshell and convertible models. These new models are significant upgrades from the previous version. While I never really wanted my own mini-laptop, I now have Classmate envy.
Highlights that mattered to me included (drum roll please):
10.1 inch screen to replace the tiny 8.9 inch screen – as a result the keyboard is bigger, accommodating adolescent and even adult fingers. Honestly, the previous design was just too dang small. My fingers were all over each other.
Ruggedization (is that a word?) – now designed to withstand accidental drops from desk height, with a water resistant LCD, keyboard, touch pad, HDD shock protection using the accelerometer to detect falls, and a really nice rubberized surface making it easier to hold onto.
Retractable handle – while I’m on the topic of holding it… may I say that I really don’t understand why other PC vendors don’t put handles on their laptops. My Panasonic Toughbook has one and I love it.
eReader interface – while I’ve never used my Kindle (really, not once), I do think I’d take advantage of the eReader capability of the Classmate. The accelerometer flips the content to portrait and the touchscreen allows you to “flick to scroll.” You can also highlight and take notes directly on the page. The eReader feature was what Wired magazine picked up on in their Classmate product review.