Immigration in the Spotlight…or is it Education?
SAN JOSE, CA – Today, and recently, there has been a big focus on the immigration debate in the U.S….as well as in other developed nations. Since I’m in the U.S. and a little closer to this debate, I’m going to focus my thoughts on this side of the ponds…and less on amnesty or a worker program then on the highly-skilled and highly-educated workers that are needed to motor economies.In this “world is flat” or world 2.0 era, if you will, the jobs will go to where the best educated workforces are – and (commercial) Cisco provides the technologies that allows for anywhere, anytime, seamless communications. The U.S. still has great universities that attract the best talent around the world. Noted Silicon Valley venture capitalist and education advocate John Doerr has stated that he thinks that all advanced degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math (the so-called STEM majors) obtained by foreign nationals should have a green card attached to them. Those U.S. educated workers, he argues, should be encouraged to stay and contribute to the U.S. economy rather than being forced to go back to their home countries – where, by the way, there are more and more opportunities for them.Educating the best and the brightest from the around the world and encouraging them to stay is not the full answer, of course. We also have to focus on encouraging our own students to study math and science disciplines. In the 60’s, of course, it was Sputnik and the space race that encouraged a generation of scientists. Maybe those were simpler times and in a pre-MTV world it was a little easier to get the attention of the youth. What is the answer, you say? There aren’t easy answers. We’re going to have to follow the ol’ “think globally, act locally” approach on this one. Cisco is doing its part with our Networking Academies as well as our 21st Century Schools project in Mississippi and Louisiana. Everybody can do more, though, of course.I don’t want to imply that the amnesty and worker issues that are being addressed in the current immigration debate are not important enough to comment on…the jobs filled by immigrants do contribute to our economy. However, and I’m sure I’ll get this stat wrong, but, I have heard that ONE engineering job, in turns, creates SIX other jobs, so that is where my focus has been.For more thoughtful insight on this issue, please go to Yahoo or Google or MSN or your other favorite search engine and search “Chris Nordlinger” and “education.” He frames the issue more eloquently than I, as well as offers some creative solutions.I also blogged on this issue in January after a meeting with Senator George Allen (R-VA) and you can read that post here: http://blogs.cisco.com/gov/2006/01/dont_want_no_smart_people.html