Good high school education, with an emphasis on mathematics and science, worker training, sensible immigration policies, and a system of rewarding innovation are the initiatives that will drive competitiveness in the US economy. 

This is the opinion of Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, who yesterday testified to a US Senate Committee on strengthening US competitiveness for the 21st century.
As a self-made businessman who epitomises competitiveness, Gates shared his amxiety that the US's leadership position in the world economy could be eroded unless intervention takes place now.
"Any discussion of competitiveness in the 21st century must begin by recognising the central role that technology and innovation play in today's economy," Gates told the Committee. "The US has a great deal to be proud of in this respect. Many of the most important advances in computing, healthcare, telecommunications, manufacturing, and many other fields have originated here.
"Yet when I reflect on the state of American competitiveness, my feeling of pride is mixed with deep anxiety. Too often, it seems we're content to live off the investments previous generations made, and that we are failing to live up to our obligation to make the investments needed to make sure the US remains competitive in the future.
"In my view, our economic future is in peril unless we take three important steps:
"First, we must equip America's students and workers with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in today's knowledge economy.
"Second, we need to reform our immigration policies for high skilled workers so that we can be sure our workforce includes the world's most talented people.
"And third, we need to provide a foundation for future innovation by investing in new ideas and providing a framework for capturing their value."
The goal for shooling should be for every child to graduate from high school, at least – and to have a better education in maths, science and engineering than is currently the case. To achieve this goal, teachers need to be empowered and rewarded to ensure that the level of education is meets the need.
"Even as we need to improve our schools and universities, we cannot lose sight of the need to upgrade the skills of people already in our workforce," Gates adds.
"Governments and industry need to work together to prepare all of our workers for the jobs required in the knowledge economy. As a nation, our goal should be to ensure that, by 2010, every job seeker in the US workforce can access the education and training they need to succeed in the knowledge economy."
Gates also appealed for a lifting of immigration restrictions to allow top science and engineering talent from around the world to study, live and work in the US.
"Finally, maintaining American competitiveness requires that we invest in research and reward innovation," he adds. "Our nation's current economic leadership is a direct result of investments that previous generations made in scientific research, especially through public funding of projects in government and university research laboratories."
He also urges changes in the way innovators can protect their intellectual property, as be rewarded for it.
"The challenges confronting America's competitiveness and technological leadership are among the greatest we have faced in our lifetime," Gates adds.
"I recognize that conquering these challenges will not be easy, but I firmly believe that if we succeed, our efforts will pay rich dividends for all Americans."