Americans rank last in using technology to solve problems

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Among 18 industrial countries, the United States is the worst at using digital technology to solve problems, according to a study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The findings, reported in The Wall Street Journal, question the education of Americans and their preparedness to enter an increasingly global workforce.

While the U.S. came in last, the countries topping the list for problem solving with technology included Japan, Finland, Sweden and Norway. The study indicates this talent shortage mostly lies in traditional middle class jobs, including manufacturing and healthcare. Individuals in highly cerebral jobs, like those that require advanced literacy and numeracy, perform better.

"This is the only country in the world where it's OK to say, 'I'm not good at math,'" Stephen Provasnik, the U.S. technical adviser for the International Assessment for Adult Competency, told WSJ. "That's just not acceptable in a place like Japan."

This lack in job preparation also indicates a lagging technological skill set among U.S. workers, which could have economic and political consequences, said Marc Tucker, president and CEO of the National Center for Education and the Economy, a non-profit educational research organization.

"The only way we can compete and live well in this country is if people in other parts of the world want what we have to sell them, and we can only get there if we have a population that is very well educated and well trained," Mr. Tucker said in a statement.

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