Is it time to think differently about what creates new industries and jobs? Should education be recognised as the key to innovation rather than a drain on the public purse? Should we be pumping money into universities as well as banks and propping up schools and colleges as well as currencies? Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s influential thinker on international education, says that western economies have reached a fork in the road. It’s a case of up-skilling or downsizing. “You have two choices. You can go in to the race to the bottom with China, lowering wages for low-skill jobs. Or you can try to win in innovation and competitiveness. “In the long run, if you don’t have natural resources to sell, skills are the only way of competing. “In the past, monetary policy and fiscal policy could be seen as a way to growth, but today, what remains is human capital. You can no longer bail yourself out of a crisis, you can’t stimulate your way out of a crisis, the only way is to provide better skills.” This would also mean making fundamental changes to the school and university systems, argues the OECD’s education expert.
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