How secondary education is driving our global competitiveness

by Sarah Bachman11 Mar 2015

A Macquarie University study has found a link between educational achievement and a nation’s global competitiveness.

The study, led by Dr Chris Baumann and co-authored by associate professor, Hume Winzar, highlighted the importance of secondary school subjects such as science and maths in the correlation.

“The reasons for these differences in competitiveness, even in cases with similar education ability, were revealed by diachronic analysis,” Baumann said, referring to the way in which the data developed and evolved through time.

Baumann explained that the study showed how well educational achievement - specifically in reading, science, and mathematics - explains a country’s competitiveness.

The study also observed regional differences in education and competitiveness to understand how education drives competitiveness over time.

“Future research should also aspire to explain the regional variation we have found in our study, and as such provide valuable input for education and school policy,” said Baumann, adding that the results may also reflect “a shift in society and economic activities towards services industries”.

The study noted that roughly three quarters of all economic output in Western countries is generated in services such as education, health, finance/banking, tourism and retailing – industries where reflection, creative and independent thinking and soft skills such as communication are key.

“Reading reflects this soft skill set, which must form an integral part of school curricula in order to ensure competitiveness in economies increasingly defined by service industries,” Baumann said.

“This is a key insight as surprisingly, reading has often been excluded from previous research and policy development aimed at increasing economic outcome through education.

Science and mathematics have historically been viewed as key factors in driving technological innovations and have motivated the recent drive to increase enrolments in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields through to higher education.
 

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