policy recommendations

Three Bold Proposals to Revive U.S. Manufacturing Base Unveiled

The Brookings Institute, in partnership with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), released three bold policy proposals intended to bolster the competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing and advanced industries sector by improving innovation, workforce, and higher education connections. Each proposal paper provides a compelling argument for the federal government to make a strategic investment that will help to renew the national, state and local manufacturing bases to address poor U.S. economic performance since the Great Recession including sagging gross domestic product (less than 2 percent annually growth), skyrocketing numbers of individuals living in/near poverty and wage stagnation. Proposals include 20 U.S. manufacturing universities, a network of advanced industries innovation HUBs and a competition for states and a Race to the Shop competition.

Review Calls for External Scientific Oversight for CA Stem Cell Research

In a new report, the National Academies' Institute of Medicine (IOM) praises the remarkable research output of California's Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) during its first seven years, but recommends several changes in oversight that could improve the quality and defensibility of its work. IOM suggests that external scientific reviews and independent oversight of the institute's management could help ameliorate concerns about conflicts of interest and increase transparency.

Presidential Report Calls for New Innovation Ecosystem for Agricultural Research

In a report, the President's Council of Advisors on Science & Technology recommends that the federal government should launch a coordinated effort to boost American agricultural science by increasing public investments.

Calls Increase for a National Innovation Agency

Two organizations have in recent weeks called on the United States to create a national federal office of innovation to help focus and concentrate innovation across the country.

Building Progress Towards Successful K-12 STEM Education

The National Research Council has released a report that establishes key indicators for measuring improvement to the U.S. K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education system. The report lays out three key goals for national K-12 STEM education: expand the number of students who pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields, and broaden sector participation for women and minorities; expand the STEM workforce and broaden the participation of women and minorities; and, increase science literacy for all students in the U.S. education system. The authors point out that progress has been made during the past decade; national common core standards in STEM education have already been adopted by 45 states.

Investment in Broadband Infrastructure Drives Economic Growth, Competitiveness

While Washington remains in political gridlock and the national economy continues sluggish growth, one key trend for political and economic success is apparent: U.S. metro regions experiencing high economic growth have invested federal, state, and private funds in high-speed broadband access.

Preserving U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness Requires New Strategies

In the aftermath of an election cycle in which manufacturing emerged as a key point of contention in many races, several groups are taking stock of the state of U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. The 2012 edition of the Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, based on a survey of senior manufacturing executives, projects that the U.S. will fall from third most competitive nation to fifth over the next five years. In order to stave off declining competitiveness, authors of a McKinsey Global Institute report suggest that manufacturing be viewed as a critical driver of U.S. innovation, requiring flexible federal intervention as the lines between manufacturing and services become blurred.

Brookings Examines Potential Impact of Federal Public-Private Economic Development

Fostering regional innovation is imperative to strengthening our national economy and crafting public-private partnerships (PPPs) are a key strategy for catalyzing regional economic growth. While states should continue to lead regional innovation efforts, the federal government can play a critical supporting role. The Brookings Institution proposes the establishment of a PPP unit within the White House to coordinate Federal assistance. Examples of effective federal-regional PPP units already are active within the Department of Transportation and the White House Startup America Initiative.

Research Studies Find Skilled Immigrants Spur Innovation in Academia, Industry

Two recent academic research articles found that innovation at institutions of higher education and domestic firms are significantly impacted by an increase in the immigration of skilled and qualified immigrants. An article from Stuen et al. found the quality of immigrant students was the determining factor in their contribution to the production of knowledge at academic science and engineering laboratories. In an unpublished article from Kerr et al., the authors examined the impact of skilled immigrants on the employment structures and innovation rates of U.S. firms. The authors of these articles also provide several recommendations to increase the number skilled immigrants that include making student quality the key criterion for receiving a visa, repealing 2001 legislation that limited the number of student visas and business taking a more active role in advocating for immigrations polices (e.g., H-1B visa reform) that attracted skilled workers to the United States.

How Significant is the U.S. Skills Gap?

The answer may not be clear, but both sides can agree the U.S. skills gap will continue to deepen if changes do not occur. In the U.S. manufacturing sector, the skills gap may be less pervasive than many believe, according to a report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG researchers estimate the U.S. is short 80,000 to 100,000 highly skilled manufacturing workers. That shortage represents less than 1 percent of the nation's 11.5 million manufacturing workers and less than 8 percent of its 1.4 million highly skilled manufacturing workers. The researchers also found only seven states — six of which are in the bottom quartile of U.S. state manufacturing output — show significant or severe skills gaps. They conclude shortages are local, not nationwide, in nature and reflect imbalances driven by both location and job classes.


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