As a nation, we are losing our edge in science and technology. The Business Roundtable, National Academy of Sciences and others have sounded the alarm in recent reports, issuing warnings and calling for action. The most frequently invoked remedy is a massive, much-needed infusion of resources for science and math education in our schools. But this is only part of the “basic training” our young people need to compete successfully in a global marketplace. They also need international knowledge, language abilities and intercultural communications skills that young graduates around the world receive as part of their higher education, and that
Companies are no longer sending rising managers abroad, preferring to hire U.S.-trained international students or local hires with international experience. American students too often graduate without the basic skills they need to be globally competent professionals, and companies fail to seek out or reward those who are better equipped.
The Institute of International Education (IIE), on whose board we serve, released its latest report, which shows that study abroad more than doubled in the past decade, to a record high of 191,321 students receiving credit this past year.
The good news is that we already have in place an effective mechanism to build language and cultural knowledge: study abroad at the undergraduate level. Hundreds of
The bad news is that this number is barely 1 percent of the 19 million students enrolled in
The lesson is clear. Business leaders need to support international study with financial means. Several flagship programs of the
Farsighted companies and foundations like Goldman Sachs and General Electric have invested in international programs to prepare students for future leadership in a global arena. Corporate leaders need to step up to the plate and support such programs, and also reward students who participate byputting a priority on new hires with global experience.
We challenge business leaders to speak out in support of study abroad and to require a basic level of international competence in their professional and managerial workforce.
Talk to your employees. Talk to your alma mater. Talk to your children. The message is clear. The next generation must leave the country€¦ and come back with their minds open to the world.
Henry Kaufman is chairman emeritus of the