Innovation Gap

studentBusiness spends a lot of money on innovation.  Microsoft spends 7 billion per year on research and development Google spends about 2 Billion per year.  In fact, most of the biggest companies in the world are spending about 10% of their revenue on R&D.  They know that an investment in their products is critical to success and that is the standard in today’s economy.  If you want to succeed you have to be flexible, nimble and you have to innovate.

The purpose of our education system is to prepare our children for this environment.  This is a world where methods and technologies turn over every two years on average.  This means that the technology (hardware, software and methodologies) we use today will be obsolete in two years.  We are failing our children horribly!

A few years ago, a friend of mine was applying for a job at a tech company in Vancouver.  This is one of those companies that spends a ton of money on R&D and employee development.  The interview process was intense to say the least.  There were multiple sessions of interviews that lasted for hours at a time.  There were test cases and scenarios that had to be dealt with in a hands on manner.  This wasn’t theory, this was throwing him into a situation that was very much like a real every day situation and asking him to perform.  He got the job and is well paid to do something he loves.  The interesting thing is, he doesn’t have a University degree.  What’s even more interesting is that a degree in computer science would have been no help at all in landing this job.  How could a 4 year degree possibly be of any value when everything learned in the first two years is obsolete by the time you start your third year.

In Canada, the 2012 Federal budget included education innovation funding of approximately 100 Million dollars per year for five years. To put that in perspective, in 2007 Apple spent 800 Million in R&D.  A single tech company spends 8 times more on innovation than an entire country does on helping to improve the horribly outdated education system we have.  There is simply no way that we are ever going to prepare people to work in today’s economy with that kind of effort.

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