A report released today by the Havard Business School should be required reading for every politician and pundit in America.
The survey findings help us pinpoint where the roots of the competitiveness problem lie. Respondents saw the underlying business environment in America as still strong in critical areas, but no keeping pace with other economies, especially emerging economies. They perceived the greatest current or emerging weaknesses to be in America’s tax code, political system, K-12 education system, macreconomic policies, legal framework, regulations, infrastructure, and workforce skills.
More than half of the respondents said that the K-12 education system in the United States is “much worse” or “somewhat worse” than systems in other advanced economies. They rated only two other areas – the political system and tax code – worse than K-12 education.
In addition, nearly 80 percent of respondents perceived that the K-12 education system is “falling behind.” This was comparable to the percentage who believed that the political system is inhibiting the competitiveness of the nation.
According to the survey, what were the most commonly mentioned impediments to investing and creating jobs in the United States? By far, answers that related to regulations, talent, taxes, and macroeconomics were the most common. In the talent category, three main issues arose – cost, immigration policy, and K-12 education. Unfortunately, the report did not detail specific reforms recommended by respondents. Perhaps the next issue of the Harvard Business Review will address this.