No matter where you are in the world, the sustainability of almost every economy depends on one critical idea. Young and highly educated workers must be able to fill the void created by an aging population leaving the workforce. In the competitive global economic landscape of today, even highly developed countries cannot afford to slide into downward educational trends. One can obtain great foresight into the future outlook of the global economy by simply comparing international education across industrialized economies. This analysis leads to the discovery of many surprising revelations about the future setting of the global economy.

A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently revealed that the United States is the only major economy in the world where the younger generation is not going to be better educated than the older generation. The annual OECD statistics also showed that about only one in five young adults in the United States reach a higher level of education than their parents. This figure is one of the lowest rates of upward mobility in the developed world. Elsewhere in the world, countries in the continents of Asia and Europe are not experiencing this downward mobility and are experiencing educational growth.

This unanticipated study shows that global competitiveness is not only affecting businesses, it’s also having a major impact on universities and colleges worldwide. These institutions have the responsibility to train the future workforce of the global economy. The tough part is that these institutions are no longer competing domestically; with globalization they are now benchmarked against education levels all around the world. Perhaps this increased competition will take education to the next level in preparing young students for the complexities of working in today’s globalized business climate. On the other hand, it may also make problems more difficult to solve.

The United States has fallen to 14th in university graduation rates, further demonstrating the downward mobility trend discovered by the OECD. The idea of going to college and the expectation of becoming more prosperous than those who came before you has been a cornerstone of the ambitious middle class of America. A fundamental part of the American Dream is under threat as downward mobility haunts the foundation of America's education system. This problem has been attributed to many sources including rising student debt, insecurity, and the rapidly increasing costs of higher education.

These recent trends raise many questions to discuss and we can all do our part in analyzing the situation for a solution. What do you think is the source of this educational problem and what are other countries, specifically in Asia and Europe, doing to foster educational attainment and economic mobility? Lastly, what can policymakers, parents, schools, and even students do to solve the educational problems that threaten the development of a future global workforce? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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