Making America Competitive

December 09, 2010

President Steven Knapp moderates panel on manufacturing talent at annual conference.

The U.S. government needs to remove obstacles preventing immigrants with doctorates from living and working in the country, and universities and manufacturers should better work together to ensure graduates land competitive jobs and reverse outsourcing trends.

Those were the two main conclusions of a panel moderated by President Steven Knapp at the 2010 annual meeting of the Council on Competitiveness at the Ritz Carlton in the District.

Dr. Knapp was joined on the panel by Gene Block, chancellor of University of California, Los Angeles; Nancy Conrad, chairman of the Conrad Foundation; John Langford, president and chief operating officer of Aurora Flight Sciences; and William Rees, principal associate director for global security at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

GW was one of the sponsors of the conference run by the council, a non-governmental organization that brings together university, industry and labor leaders to “address America’s long-term competitiveness challenges.”

Asked how they would improve job training, panelists stressed different strategies, from Dr. Block calling for “a corporate-government partnership with universities to provide adult education” to the “continuum of education” Ms. Conrad suggested, wherein retiring Baby Boomers would assume mentorship roles.

The panel also discussed students’ tendencies to gravitate toward business majors rather than focuses in the sciences and arts.

Dr. Rees sees reasons to be encouraged, though. “I’m pretty optimistic about our current students,” he said, stressing that science can be cool and provide a “practical sense of purpose. The appeal of it is more on the mission side rather than the money side.”

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