United States, employing half of all private-sector employees13 and 41 percent of the nation’s high-tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer technicians). They have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade and produced 14 times more patents per employee than large patent-producing firms.14 Thus, any infrastructure development for lifelong learning for engineers should be made with SMEs and their employees in mind.


We asked employees what should drive the content for lifelong learning. The results (FIGURE 5) indicate that scientific and technological advances must drive the content of lifelong learning programs. This is particularly important in the context of the rapid development and depreciation of knowledge. We also note that engineers believe that changing global business practices must drive content —in other words, some lifelong learning programs in the United States must be directed at learning business practices in other countries.


FIGURE 5 Engineers’ views of what should drive the content of lifelong learning programs, based on 2,900 responses to the question: “How important should each of the following considerations be in driving the content of lifelong learning?” Respondents ranked each from 5 = extremely important to 1 = not important at all.


13 Katherine Kobe. 2007. The Small Business Share of GDP, 1998-2004. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, April. Available online at www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs299tot.pdf.

14 CHI Research. 2003. Small Serial Innovators: The Small Firm Contribution to Technical Change. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, February. Available online at www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs225.pdf.

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