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article imageOp-Ed: The competitive advantage of higher education in America

By Aymen Zaben     Dec 9, 2012 in Lifestyle
With nations such as China, India and Japan using their competitive advantages of lower wages, Western nations such as the US are being rapidly replaced.
According to a 2009 research conducted by the University of California at Berkeley , the United States has been falling behind in terms of competing with foreign nations such as China, India and Japan. It has become a mere fact that China, India and Japan have been using their competitive advantages of lower wages, high foreign investment and ready access to raw materials to compete and replace Western nations such as the US as the world's powerhouses of industry.
A few decades ago, manufacturing was one of America's core industries, with the U.S. producing vehicles, computers, raw cotton and agricultural goods (NBER 2011) Now, Detroit, the motor city, is very much scaled back in terms of auto manufacturing and the big three American vehicle manufacturers have to sought out aid packages and loans from the central government to stay afloat. Fewer American vehicles are being sold abroad and the US is in danger of becoming a net importer of food for the first time, according to the University of Kentucky.
Meanwhile, products such as Apple's iconic iPhone are assembled in Chinese factories and employing Chinese labour in the place of American workers and it must be accepted that in general, unskilled and semi-skilled labour is moving offshore.
This is not however, bad news. With the gradual erosion of low-paid labor opportunities, Americans are being denied the opportunity of following their forefathers into factory work, and are instead, more often choosing higher education.
President Obama has grasped the nettle and aims to expand access to education to ensure that the US economy can compete internationally in the future.
On September 28, 2011, President Barack Obama stated, "A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can out-compete countries around the world. America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game. That's why we’re working together to put an outstanding education within reach for every child."
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2011), there are more than 4,000 degree granting institutions in America - a figure that many in less developed countries would be amazed at - and they offer courses in everything ranging from theology to zoology. Whatever you want do with your life, there are typically related college courses available.
According to the 2005 US census, 27.2% of US citizens have bachelor's degrees with a further 10% going on to take either PhDs or masters degrees.
Higher education not only gives a competitive advantage and the opportunity to become the best in a particular field. It also offers a sense of self worth and self esteem, which can only come from innovation, invention and creativity
It allows the individual to make a difference to the world through intellectual effort in a way that simply toiling in a factory or field will not permit.
According to the University of Washington, the human brain accounts for around 2% of body weight - far higher than any other creature on earth, but with many people, the extra capacity for thought and logic which separates human beings from animals is seldom used and they may spend most of their lives with their intellect set to idle. Never excelling and living a basically unfulfilling existence.
Education, especially at a higher level is like a gymnasium for the mind - stretching, pulling and bending. Education makes it stronger, more flexible and capable of tackling problems far beyond those found in everyday life.
Innovations come from those who think, and you'll never know what you're capable of unless you try.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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