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The Call for Public-Private Engagement in Education

By Dante Cid, VP, Academic Relations, Latin America – Elsevier/RELX Group

“We need to develop and disseminate an entirely new paradigm and practice of collaboration that supersedes the traditional silos that have divided governments, philanthropies and private enterprises for decades and replace it with networks of partnerships working together to create a globally prosperous society.” – Simon Mainwaring
Collaboration propels goals. Collaboration optimizes the capacity to go beyond boundaries and limits. That is the reason why companies like Coca-Cola and Heinz partner to manufacture a more sustainable, 100% plant-derived container. That is why research hubs like CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, create large-scale scientific collaboration on particle physics with academics, medium-sized companies and start-ups from all around the globe. Collaboration drives government agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to work with Google to track the spread of viruses. In this case, early detection of a disease outbreak can reduce the number of people affected and enable governments to better respond to epidemics.
There are numerous examples, but the conclusion is the same. “Together we are stronger.” And that’s exactly what the Americas Business Dialogue (ABD) is all about.
A private sector driven initiative facilitated by the Inter-American Development Bank , ABD was created for the private sector to have a more active and constructive role in policy discussions that are important for the Americas. Education and human capital development are areas that would benefit from this interaction.
Working side by side with companies in the IT, pharmaceutical, and telecom sectors, the RELX Group has been engaged in the Human Capital and Innovation working group since its inception. At Elsevier, RELX’s business that is the main information provider of scientific and medical research in the world, we have a privileged view of research on a global scale. Elsevier’s plethora of research data enables us to understand the trends in specific fields of study, as well as identify research competencies for determined countries or regions.
Elsevier data shows that Chile, for example, has an emerging competency in the area of stars research with 13% of global research production. While high-energy physics has become an emerging competency for Colombia, who has been collaborating with innovation hubs abroad, like CERN, which I mentioned before. We can also see that Cuba is a leader in dengue research, just behind the United States. Or looking at specific areas like agronomy and crop science, you can observe that while research on rice, wheat and genes is dropping, corn is growing.
That is the type of insight that the private sector can bring to the table and help governments map who will the best partner for each knowledge field. Furthermore, certain industries can predict what are the skills sets that will be needed in the future. That information can be essential for government to better plan where the budget should be invested in. Having institutional forums where governments of the region can engage directly with businesses ensures, for example, that the demand for skilled labor and competitiveness is met in the future.
But, let’s go back to the work of the ABD. For three years, this group has been examining innovation and human capital in the Americas, focusing on what does an innovation-friendly environment mean, but also what types of initiatives could the business sector support local governments in. Language and STEM-focused education are areas that were pointed out by the business sector from the Americas of where the region lags behind. With that in mind, the group recommends:

  • Stimulate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as entrepreneurship, through exchange programs, in particular to support the development of the human capital necessary for the infrastructure, logistics, energy and natural resources sectors.
  • Promote the implementation of public-private partnerships for technical and vocational education, as well as education in foreign languages, to create a larger, more qualified and more mobile workforce that responds to the demand for skills from the private sector and the needs of local communities

These initiatives are aimed at enhancing hemispheric competitiveness, increasing prosperity, and providing study abroad opportunities to better prepare a globally aware and culturally competent workforce.
I’m looking forward to the Education Network’s Regional Policy Dialogue “Bridging the Public and Private sectors in Education” that is being hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Council of the Americas –with the support of the Americas Business Dialogue- in Washington, DC on November 7th. This is the perfect venue with government education authorities and private sector leaders from the region to share ABD policy recommendations and public-private partnership proposals and discuss how to improve the competitiveness of the Americas through efforts focused on education and human capital development.

Courtesy: Americas Business Dialogue

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