There are 998 of them listed on the Accel Partners site, some in Silicon Valley, others in states elsewhere. So at a time of high national unemployment, you might think these jobs would be snapped up, right?
Why they haven’t leads right into Joe Schoendorf’s big gripe–that the U.S. education system is failing the country when it comes to math and science. Schoendorf, who helps Accel portfolio companies establish global business relationships, especially in China and Japan, on Tuesday joined the chorus of venture investors who have complained about the nation’s shortage of engineering and science graduates.
But he did so with a twist. He says he is not worried about the short-term impact. “I’ve never seen more fundamental innovation,” he said at the AlwaysOn Venture Summit Silicon Valley 2010.
And unlike other observers, he said he is not worried by the erosion of the U.S. manufacturing base. In the past 30 years, the country’s share of worldwide production fell only 4 percentage points, while manufacturing employment fell in half, he says. In other words, the nation is making much of what it did three decades ago, but with far fewer people. Efficiency is up.
What Schoendorf seems to fear most is the nation’s leadership role in the next phase of economic evolution, an event on par with the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution: the transformation of billions of people in China, India and Brazil into the middle class.
“We’re not in the position to win unless we change [education] pretty quickly,” he said.
Oh, and one more thing. Unlike the Japanese, whose once mighty economy threatened the dominance of the United States in the 1980s, the Chinese are bigger entrepreneurial risk takers. “Risk in China is a total part of the culture,” he said. They will take the initiative.
Working against China, he went on to say, is a key vulnerability. It has one of the most corrupt governments in the world, he said. “That’s a problem they have to deal with.”
Just as we deal with ours.