A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group which measures the government policies and corporate performance most encouraging to innovation has Singapore as the number one global leader of innovation, followed by South Korea at number two. Former innovation leaders from the west such as the United States and Germany dropped to numbers eight and nineteen, respectively. What exactly has contributed to this?
The number one reason why Singapore and South Korea have surpassed the United States and Germany is the quality of the workforce. Many workers simply don’t have the skills to compete with workers from other countries that have recently maintained a more superior commitment to education. Singapore, for example, has a world-renowned science education program which starts during the K-12 years. Many high school graduates from these Southeastern Asian countries then often attend higher education institutions in the United States.
Much to the chagrin of the United States, though, many of these highly-gifted graduates then return to their home countries, and sometimes end up working for U.S. companies which outsource jobs. The bottom line is that companies want to hire the most qualified individuals for the job for the best possible price. Many of these graduates satisfy these conditions. It would make much more sense for the government to allow these graduates to work in the United States, where they can purchase goods and services from other American companies.
Moving along from that brief aside, the bottom line is that countries such as India, Japan, China, and other Southeastern Asian countries have endeavored much more towards implementing a stringent and effective early education policy, and it is because of this that they are beginning to surpass western nations such as the United States in terms of innovation.
For more on Singapore and it's rising innovative status, check out the entire article on BusinessWeek!