Jon Burgstone (above with President Obama), managing director at Symbol Capital and adjunct professor of engineering at UC Berkeley:
I’ve said these things directly to the president and members of the administration so I might as well say them on Inc.com. We need to offer more Americans better educational options to become great entrepreneurs. All net new job growth over the past two decades has come from small businesses. Yet, 95 percent of new businesses fail within the first few years. The country needs to teach aspiring entrepreneurs how to find the right opportunity, hire, serve customers well, develop good relationships with suppliers and grow their businesses. Our education system does not teach people how to build a business-it should.
We also need to encourage the best international students to stay in the U.S. Our universities educate many thousands of very bright international students in engineering, science, math and other strategic disciplines. Upon graduation, we force them to return to their home countries. The best students, in the most promising fields, should be given preference in obtaining green cards and a path toward citizenship. America is about attracting hard-working, motivated people from around the world. Why educate them, if we then force them to leave?
On the other hand, our country needs to develop a better system of educating skilled workers, similar to programs in Germany and elsewhere. A high-tech society needs technologically savvy workers. We need to develop a better system of post-high school education where students who are not bound for university can develop the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs in high-tech, energy, medical professions, etc.
Lastly, the president should change the name of the Small Business Administration to something like the Entrepreneurial Opportunity Administration. Names mean a lot.