Over the last few decades or so, there has been a seemingly never ending demand for more sophisticated technology. Whether it be smaller phones, stronger batteries, more fuel efficient cars, it appears that our desire to reach higher states of technological innovation is never ending. Many venture capital firms, seeing as how technology investment has consistently showed promise, have funded billions in various education technology programs. In 2015, numerous well-paying jobs within the technology sector were left vacant, in which many of those careers are computer science oriented. These types of science fields are essential for economic and societal prosperity, and they benefit far more than just the technology sector. They are necessary for advancement of industries including education, transportation, and health.
With all this said, how can we ultimately reach this goal constant technological innovation? One way technology is developed is through investment in human capital. Therefore, the more our labor force is engaged in research and development, the more technology can be efficient and cost effective. The effect of technological progress on human capital investments has increasingly become an important topic. Here are two possible ways to increase our technological capabilities in the long run:
- Efficient funding to Public Education Programs
If anything, students are gaining more exposure to technology from being in school. IPads, laptops, and Smartboards are becoming more and more common as the affordability of these devices increases. But even so there seems to be a problem with the amount spent on technology education programs vs. how much students are learning from said programs. In 2014, venture capital firms funded technology oriented programs about $1.8 billion dollars, and that number is expected to increase. The real shock, is that number in 2009 was roughly $385 million dollars. Just from that, we can get a picture as to how much the demand for these programs in increasing yearly. However, the problem isn’t that sufficient funds aren’t being reached, it’s that the method of learning for students has begun to stagnate. Perhaps it is due in part that so much money is spent on the physical devices and not so much on complex software designed to help students learn. The amount spent on physical technology in public education reached $13 billion in 2013, according to a report from the Journal. Moreover, the United States spent more than $4 billion that year on mobile devices. Forecasts predict that education technology spending will amount to $19 billion around 2019. With almost all students in possession of tablets or computers of some sorts in schools, the main focus for technology funding needs to shift away from physical tech, and more towards software and interactive applications. These applications should, in theory, take complex material (computer programming, for example) and make it easier for students to understand. This is one step as to how technology funding could be allocated more efficiently, with the goal to be focused on how programs can enhance students’ ability to learn and comprehend. If students are able to easier learn more complicated technological information from, say, middle school onward, then the chances of that generation of students being able to enhance the world through tech will be much greater. Another reason to consider when discussing funding for these tech education programs is the disparity between funding received from rich and poor schools. One of the major incentives behind a massive budget for technology funding is to make it accessible for all students, although it does not always happen. Because numerous school districts within the U.S. are experiencing budget cuts, the money for tech resources isn’t easily attainable. So, in addition to making easy-to-understand software for those schools with sufficient capital, we must also be mindful of how to make physical tech available for those schools which require it. The more widespread the accessibility of technology is through the education system, the higher the probability our younger generations will be able to reach new levels of higher tech.
- Research and Development
A major factor in the driving of technological advancement is money invested in its research, and in order to push past our current level, more money is needed. This includes the money invested in academia (as mentioned previously within public education) as well as proper capital needed to support workers. In terms of innovating at our current state, we must also consider what our current workforce can do. Individuals working in high level technology sectors will have the greatest effect on how we will continue to expand our horizons. As stated previously, those working in developing higher technologies should invest in ways to help the younger generations learn and understand concepts of computer sciences early on. It is this need for passing useful information on to younger people which will benefit the world as a whole in the future. Furthermore, the supply PhD candidates that perform the research needed to advance these technologies is also a factor to consider when discussing ways to innovate. Essentially, once enough money is raised/invested to fund the programs for research, scholars will cooperate with tech experts to develop the technology. Once it is developed and accessible in the workforce, productivity will see further increase, holding other factor inputs constant. In turn higher level of productivity will increase economic output. Further in the long run, the new technologies can be deployed in public schools once it becomes affordable enough on a wide scale.
The relationship between education and technology appears to be linear. The more time invested in education, the higher the likelihood of developing better technologies is possible. For this reason, it is essential that funding be efficiently allocated to public education in order to enhance students’ understanding of computer sciences. Through our current education system, we have been able to effectively develop and train our work force to produce new technologies, so long as appropriate investments were made to continue funding to tech programs. That said, it may be wise to allocate some of the funding to other purposes, such as interactive software and aiding the school districts whom cannot provide adequate tech due to budget cuts. Once these changes take effect, productivity in the workforce has the potential to increase, which will increase economic output as a result. In order to maintain this process of technological innovation however, we must be mindful to continue to increase education standards and funding for programs through the years. Human capital and R&D in technology are the critical steps for economic growth, which lead to a more productive workforce. Based on the analysis, we can see the relationship between technology, education, and economic growth appears to be positive.