America may be known for pioneering many sciences and technologies, but a new report has revealed that it is now losing this race to other nations like China.
A survey of STEM-related workers showed that 75 percent believe the US is falling behind in these industries or has even lost to global competition.
Even more, 60 percent of respondents deemed China as leading the pack – data shows the country beats the US in 34 out of 44 fields, including electric batteries, hypersonics, and advanced radio-frequency.
The State of Science in America, a non-profit working to invigorate US science and technology, calls lawmakers to issue funding for future innovations, saying these fields are no longer a national priority and the country is ‘ill-prepared for the future.’
A new study found that 75% of STEM-related workers believe the U.S. is falling behind in technological and scientific research and development
The report included a survey encompassing 2,000 people working in a STEM-related field, including K-12 educators, technology, healthcare, military and national security, business, science, engineering, and math.
It found that only eight percent of those surveyed believe the U.S. is taking steps to expand its lead, but out of the majority who said the U.S. is falling behind, 40 percent blamed the government, saying it should invest more money into research and development.
‘We need Congress and policymakers to be willing to sit down with the scientific community, whether in industry, academia, or government, to shape the kinds of policies and legislative and regulatory frameworks that are necessary to advance innovation as well as appropriate budget commitments,’ former FDA commissioner and President of InterAcademy Partnership said in the report.
Although many factors contribute to the drop in scientific and technological advancements, including artificial intelligence, growing distrust in science, and the government’s lack of funding, the report labels the lack of adequate K-12 STEM education as the top obstacle.
Over the last three decades, the U.S. has trailed behind European and East Asian countries, ranking 28th out of 37 participating countries in reading, science, and math.
STAC suggests investing in K-12 STEM education by expanding the curriculum and increasing training programs and fellowships.
The report suggested that the federal government increase its support for STEM education by ensuring every student has a laptop, expanding student’s internet access at home, expanding on STEM curriculum in grades K-12, and increasing training programs and fellowships that ‘provide a pathway to STEM-related employment, and providing support and resources to teachers to unleash creativity and innovation in young learners.’
The team raised the issue of people’s growing distrust in science caused by widespread disinformation and misinformation, which also undermines public health and suspicion around ‘innovative treatments and medical products.’
This is not the first time the science community has raised the alarm about the U.S.’s risk of losing the top spot as a global leader in technology and science.
Roughly 200 leaders of high-tech companies, including Microsoft and Intel Corp., lobbied for the government to invest more in the scientific community in 2005 over arguments that research and development was stagnant for the previous three decades.
‘The world is changing a little bit, and frankly, there is a significant amount of concern that if we don’t make some adjustments, follow the right public policies, and do some things that are important, we could find ourselves very quickly losing the advantage we’ve had for so long,’ Rick White, then-president and chief executive of high-tech lobby TechNet, said at a press conference at the time, NBC News reported.
The new report builds on past arguments, saying the U.S. can no longer be complacent and must take a stand in research and development, otherwise, the takeover of the tech and science sector is imminent.
‘The long-term prosperity, security, and vitality of the United States depend on our investing in science strategically and smartly,’ Harvey Fineberg, the president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, said in the report.
‘We can no longer thrive by muddling through because other countries have raised their game.’
The report laid out a series of policy recommendations, also called the STAC’s Action Plan, which calls for the government to double its federal investment in science and technology from .7 percent GDP to at least 1.4 percent.
This additional funding will create a push for creating more high-paying jobs and a more robust STEM workforce and will increase the U.S.’s economic and national security, the report said.
It suggests teaming up with other global allies to attract top talent worldwide and partner with other countries on larger essential projects like the Large Hadron Collider – a powerful particle accelerator.
‘The lack of a national science and technology strategy and an across-the-board agency coordination plan coupled with erratic, uneven, and short-sighted funding mechanisms are shortcomings we can no longer ignore,’ the report said.
‘We must seize this critical moment to devise and identify the priorities and goals that will inspire and engage the entire American science and technology ecosystem.’