The U.S. education system is failing students because it’s not preparing enough of them for employment, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said on Wednesday at the Washington Ideas Forum.
The tech billionaire and philanthropist singled out exclusive universities for caring more about their acceptance rates than the quality of the education they offer. Gates, who dropped out of Harvard University, said federal money should go to those who look to teach.
“Who takes the people with the low SAT and educates them very well?” Gates said. “That should be rewarded.”
Gates also expressed concern about state funding for education, given that health care expenses are increasing.
“State budgets are pretty easy to describe: They are spending more on medical costs, and a lot of that is coming from reducing their education spending,” Gates said.
Gates argued that the high unemployment rate — 7.9 percent, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics — is the result of deficiencies in the educational system, rather than an absence of available jobs.
There are currently three million more jobs than there are people with the degrees to fill them, and Gates said the American system needs to start supplying workers or risk losing these opportunities to other countries.
“Many people want jobs, and there are a lot of open jobs,” Gates said. “It is up to the education system to equilibrate that.”
The Ideas Forum was held at the Newseum and hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. The forum will continue tomorrow and feature Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi.