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Here’s the ‘two-pronged policy approach’ the US needs to stay competitive

Here’s the ‘two-pronged policy approach’ the US needs to stay competitive
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At the federal level, this means committing at least $250 million in annual federal funding to help bring computer science education to the schools that do not currently have the resources to offer it.

At the same time, we know the future of work is rapidly changing. More needs to be done to prepare America’s workforce to meet the needs of a global, interconnected, and technology-driven economy. That means providing lifelong learning, retraining, and reskilling programs that allow workers to attain the education and skills they need.

Employers also have the responsibility to lead in this area by partnering with schools and non-profits to get more young people interested in STEM and mentoring people within their organizations to take on new challenges and leadership roles.

Still, we currently face persistent high-skilled labor shortages, and startups also need access to the best talent from across the world to fill those jobs and continue innovating.

From Apple to Google to AT&T, some of the world’s most valuable businesses were started by immigrants or children of immigrants. In fact, no less than 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant, and that figure rises to 57 percent among the Fortune 500 Top 35.

Similarly, more than half (44 of 87) of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion dollars or more were started by immigrants. Other countries have recognized the importance of attracting the world’s best tech talent and created dedicated entrepreneur visas to attract job creators to their shores. We need to do the same by preserving the International Entrepreneur Rule.

While the current debate in Washington is focused on a permanent legislative solution for the Dreamers — who were brought to the U.S. as children, have been educated in our schools, and are contributing to our workforces and economy — we also need high-skilled immigration reform that helps fill critical high-skilled labor shortages and increases our global competitiveness.

In short, to remain the most innovative country on earth, we must win the global fight for talent. There are concrete, bipartisan, and creative ways we can foster growth and attract talent, but they require action. Without it, we will surely lose our edge.

Commentary by Bruce E. Aust, vice chairman of Nasdaq and president of the Nasdaq entrepreneurial center, located in San Francisco. Aust is also an executive council member of TechNet.

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