Americans may have given birth to the Internet, but they aren’t very good at using technology to solve problems.
A new report finds U.S. workers rank dead last among 18 industrial countries when it comes to “problem solving in technology-rich environments,” or using digital technology to evaluate information and perform practical tasks. The consequences of that emerging competitive disadvantage is energizing the volatile undercurrent of this year’s presidential race, some observers say.
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If the problem-solving deficit is bad, the reasons for it may be worse, said Stephen Provasnik, the U.S. technical adviser for the International Assessment for Adult Competency: flagging literacy and numeracy skills, which are the fundamental tools needed to score well on the survey.
“When you look at this data it suggests the trends we’ve discerned over the last 20 years are continuing and if anything they are gaining momentum,” said Joseph Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor who studies competitiveness.
The results build off a global survey conducted in 2012 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. To better compare the skills of younger and older adults and the unemployed, researchers did additional surveys in 2014. The countries that scored the highest on the problem-solving with technology criteria were Japan, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Poland scored second to last, just above the U.S.
One stark revelation is that about four-fifths of unemployed Americans cannot figure out a rudimentary problem in which they have to spot an error when data is transferred from a two-column spreadsheet to a bar graph. And Americans are far less adept at dealing with numbers than the average of their global peers.
“This is the only country in the world where it’s OK to say ‘I’m not good at math,’ ” said Mr. Provasnik. “That’s just not acceptable in a place like Japan.”Read the rest of the story HERE.
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