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Microsoft Calls For $5B Investment In U.S. Education 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the throw-money-at-it dept.
Dupple sends this quote from ComputerWorld: "Congress should invest $5 billion in the country's education system — particularly in math, science and technology education — over the next 10 years and pay for it with increased fees on high-skill immigration, a Microsoft executive said. The U.S. needs to push more resources into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education because technology companies are running into huge shortages of workers, said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president. With most U.S. industries relying heavily on IT systems, other companies will soon start to see those worker shortages as well, unless the country focuses more on STEM education, he said during a speech at the Brookings Institution Thursday.'We need to do something new,' he said. 'We need to try something different.'"
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Microsoft Calls For $5B Investment In U.S. Education

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:12AM (#41487717)

    You know, normally I defend Bill Gates and MS, just because I feel *someone* should stand up against all the reflexive MS-bashing around here. But on this, I've got to call a spade a spade (and a scumbag ploy a scumbag ploy) and point out that this whole "it's for education" stageshow is nothing more than a cynical attempt on MS's part to get more H1-B visas (i.e. slavery licenses) so they can import cheap high-skilled labor rather than raise their salaries to hire U.S. workers. MS is basically pitching the idea of the government letting them buy a presumably unlimited number of H1-B visas (and even permanent green cards now too), and trying to cloak it with a bunch of "this will help the kids" education horseshit.

    The whole H1-B visa program needs to be severely curtailed, NOT expanded. The idea of H1-B visas started out as a reasonable sounding idea. When we have critical shortages, we can give special visa exemptions for foreign workers. But, in practice in recent years, it's become nothing more than a way for big corps to skirt the free labor market and artificially suppress wages for skilled labor. You advertise a job at a ridiculously low wage, or with ridiculous requirements, and when no American worker responds or qualifies (because American programmers and engineers won't work for $30,000 a year and don't have 20+ years Java development experience), you run crying to Congress and the Labor Dept. that you need more H1-B visas to fill the "critical shortages of qualified workers." So then you can import foreigners willing to work for cheap, rather than raise wages to get American workers (who ARE out there, and ARE willing to work--just not for peanuts). And, to top it all off, you can cleverly skirt the "prevailing wage" provisions of the H1-B program by artificially keeping wages low, or defining the job so narrowly that there is no field to compare it to. Corporations for the win!

    And, sadly, the whole scam has been backed (and consistently expanded) by both Republican and Democrats in this country--not surprisingly, since they're both just corporate subsidiaries at this point. And while people have been warning about abuses in the program [wikipedia.org] for years, their complaints are consistently lost in the rain of cash the big corps are dumping on Washington before every election.

    In short, fuck you Microsoft. You're not fooling me (and hopefully not anyone else).

    • If this is indeed the case, then Bill is calling for more money to be spent to educate kids who will never be able to find work because of the H1-B workers have it all locked up.

    • by bratmobile (550334) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:11AM (#41488555)

      I'm a fairly high-level architect at Microsoft. I have interviewed a metric F-load of people, many of which are international candidates. If we could hire all domestic, we would, because the paperwork is way easier. But the most important thing is, the actual salary that we pay people (and all the paperwork and such) actually rarely figures into the hire / no-hire decision. For us, it's all about that person's skills and what they bring to the team.

      I would be very, very happy to see the cost of H1Bs go way up, in order to fund tech education. Companies WILL pay the money. And the best part about that is, it doesn't give any company a competitive advantage over any other company -- it's a level playing-field. Often when I hear companies gripe about some change in laws, I use that to judge whether the griping is legitimate or not -- does a change in law favor one company (or one kind of company) more than other? But in this case, no, it doesn't. All tech companies that need to hire will face the same labor market.

      H1B is not slavery. The majority of H1B workers are young and single, usually a few years out of college. H1B gives them an opportunity to come to the states and 1) gain really valuable experience, 2) make a decent amount of money. Most of the H1B workers I meet are Indian, Chinese, or Russian. They make very good money. Good money in US terms, and *fantastic* money by the cost-of-living of where they came from. If they don't like their work conditions, they can leave. Just like any other job on the planet. If they do, they still made a ton of money, and still have a gig with American Mega-Awesome Corp or whatever on their resume. That's hardly slavery.

      I would seriously love to see more American candidates. But where *are* they?? Most of the candidates from domestic CS programs are, frankly, very weak candidates. There are exceptions, but they are exceptions. (For example, the Brown CS program is excellent, and produces a steady stream of first-class CS students.) Most of the American candidates I interview know a little web programming, and maybe some Java, but are extremely weak on machine architecture, assembly programming, networking, performance analysis, and problem-solving abilities.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I would seriously love to see more American candidates. But where *are* they??

        We're over 40 and have been unemployed for more than 6 months; therefore, we are--by definition--not "qualified."

        I have a degree in EE and I'll be finishing CS next year, but I'm desperately looking for something to get out of STEM. When I see students who don't understand a JMP instruction, or the concept that Object x has Method y which returns DataType z getting the job offers while I don't even get a call-back, my only conclusion is that it's your own fault.

        From my perspective, it is obvious that employ

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I worked at Microsoft from 2004-2005. From my experience, the level of knowledge required to pass the interview does not match the level required for the job. Interviewing at Microsoft is ridiculously hard. However once you get in, the work is so simple it's boring. They have people with Masters degrees in Computer Science writing simple automated tests that junior developers at other companies would write.

        There's no reason Microsoft couldn't hire most of the people they interview. There's no reason Microso

      • by mesterha (110796)

        What you say does not contradict that Microsoft wants more H1Bs to reduce their labor costs. It's simple supply and demand. By adding people to the job market, H1B visa workers will depress wages. While Microsoft is willing to pay more than market average, they will still benefit from a lower market average.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:02PM (#41492015) Journal

        I'm a software developer at Microsoft. I'm also a foreigner, working on an L-1 visa (and know a bunch of people working on H-1B).

        First of all, I can confirm that indeed there's no discernible difference in the way I'm treated (promoted, paid, not asked to work overtime etc) because of my visa. The compensation, when you account for all the bonuses, is above market average. And Microsoft sponsors my green card application right away - which wouldn't even make sense if they wanted to keep me in my present status. So that "slave worker" argument that you've replied to is clear BS.

        On the other hand, regarding this:

        H1B is not slavery ... If they don't like their work conditions, they can leave. Just like any other job on the planet.

        The problem is that if you leave on H-1B, your visa also terminates effective immediately (unless you're in late stages of green card application). Technically, you're required to vacate the country immediately. Many people overstay in practice while looking for another job, but that's a violation.

        Now, yes, you could try finding another company that's willing to sponsor a new H-1B application for you, and secure a job position there before leaving. This is not particularly easy, however, and certainly puts H-1B workers in a disadvantaged position compared to local workers, which in turn means that they have less leverage against any potential abuses by employeer, be it low compensation, overtime, or something else (since they always have that threat of being kicked them out right there and then hanging over their heads).

        Now, Microsoft doesn't use this potential to abuse its H-1B employees, which is definitely a good thing. But, in general, the potential for such abuse is inherent in the system, and there has been plenty of evidence of other companies abusing it that way.

    • The whole thing would be easy to fix. Just require the company to offer the workers 10% more then what the CEO earns (including bonuses and stock options). If they can't get a worker under those terms, then sure, import someone.

    • You advertise a job at a ridiculously low wage, or with ridiculous requirements, and when no American worker responds or qualifies (because American programmers and engineers won't work for $30,000 a year and don't have 20+ years Java development experience), you run crying to Congress and the Labor Dept. that you need more H1-B visas to fill the "critical shortages of qualified workers.

      I still get H1-B phony pitches. ColdFusion programmer jobs half-way across the country offering $35K a year. Yeah, I'

    • by Wansu (846)

      But, in practice in recent years, it's become nothing more than a way for big corps to skirt the free labor market and artificially suppress wages for skilled labor. You advertise a job at a ridiculously low wage, or with ridiculous requirements, and when no American worker responds or qualifies (because American programmers and engineers won't work for $30,000 ...

      This hasn't just been the case in recent years, it has been the way the H1-B scheme has worked from the beginning. The place where I was

    • by spongman (182339)

      I was an H1-B "slave". Now I pay significantly more taxes than the average US citizen.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:17AM (#41487759) Journal
    Students don't go into STEM not because it isn't being pushed enough, but because they know they'll get paid more in business fields. Plain and simple. Why waste 7-8 years getting a PhD in math only to discover no university or business will hire you for math or research? Oh, but the NYSE will happily hire you on as a quant if you go into corporate finance instead, and that's a four year BA.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:22AM (#41487863) Journal

      Indeed. Start paying engineers more than MBAs, and the problem will fix itself.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:24AM (#41487883)

        Given that those who are doing the hiring are likely MBAs themselves, you're not going to see that happen.

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:45AM (#41488167) Homepage

        Also include teachers in this mix. If you want really good engineers to graduate from 5-year college programs, you need good math teachers in secondary schools. And the only way you're going to get good math teachers in secondary schools is to pay them enough so that it's a rational economic choice to go into teaching rather than engineering (or engineering stock trades).

        • by ProfBooty (172603)

          Teachers should come from experienced professionals, not straight out of college. As such, an education system should try to be courting the 50+ cohort who are looking to get out of engineering and the sciences, and pay them accordingly. It will upset the unions since education is more about jobs, than about the kids.

          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            Let me put it this way: My dad made the switch from working programmer to math teacher in late middle age, and not once did he run into a problem with unions.

    • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:23AM (#41487877)
      Exactly, there's not enough jobs for STEM. Microsoft calling the world having a lack of shortage of workers is just cover for them to get cheap labor. There's tons of unemployed yet educated and skilled labor out there. Its why it is called a recession. There aren't enough jobs out there that people can feasibly pay off their student loans with.
    • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

      Or you go into STEM fields and then have trouble continuing employment the older you get unless you move into business anyways... So why not just start there? Requires far less advanced math then most of those STEM courses do as well...

  • books (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Until the books are better priced you will not see anything. And throwing 'more money at the problem' actually makes it worse (as people have more cash and can buy more so prices go up).

    By my estimate many of the books out there are costing as much as the class themselves. With very little changed from one revision to the next (usually rearranging the questions and answers). Or better yet using web material lockins for that rare occasion you can buy a used book (costing 50+ bucks just for web access).

    Thi

    • by xtal (49134)

      A good teacher shouldn't need a book.

      There's lots of old, free books. Why not use those?

    • Re:books (Score:4, Informative)

      by tilante (2547392) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:41AM (#41488999)

      Books costing as much as the class themselves? I call BS. Your speaking of "that rare occasion you can buy a used book" sounds like college books, so let's see... grabbing the current tuition rate from my alma mater (FSU), using the in-state rate, that gives $212.09 per semester-hour. Most classes are three or four semester hours. Using the lower of those gives $616.27 per student per class. So, at $200 a book, you're looking at each class calling for three books for the books to cost as much as the classes.

      You then talk about districts raising money for books, which sounds like public school. So let's look there. First off, most public schools don't buy new books for every class every year. And I haven't seen any one-use web access codes for books for public schools -- I've seen it for college books, but not ones intended for the public school market. So let's see.... Let's say $200 a book, buying books every other year, buying 40 books for a class. That's $4000 for books per year per class.

      Now... what are all the other expenses associated with running that class? Well, a big one up front is the teacher. Let's say the teacher makes $35k a year -- that doesn't seem unreasonable. There are also further benefits included with the job, though, so that teacher probably costs the school district at least $50k a year. $50k / $4000 = 12.5. So, unless that teacher is teaching 13 or more classes a year, just the teacher is already costing more than the books. Most districts these days seem to have a seven-period day, with teachers having one free period during the day, so realistically, we can expect that the teacher is teaching six classes. $50k / 6 = $8,333.33... so the teacher is costing a bit more than twice as much as the books. And that's leaving aside all the other expenses involved for each class -- like the cost of building and maintaining the school, amortized over all those classes. The cost of administrative and support personnel, again amortized over the classes. The costs of lab materials, handouts, and other class materials.

      If the school buys new books every year, then the cost of books is roughly the same as the cost of the teacher. But I've never known a school to actually do that.

      Now, I agree that the books cost too much -- but they're not costing as much as the class. Not even close. Looking around for figures, it looks like textbooks are about 1% of school budgets. But then, how do we get from that to needing multi-million dollar bond raisings?

      Well, one problem is that school systems are used to mandating a whole new lineup of books every five or six years, which means the expense hits heavy in one year, then is small for a few years (during which only books that are lost or badly damaged are replaced). Meanwhile, textbook costs have risen roughly 5% a year over the last decade, leading to "sticker shock" as schools see that new books are going to cost about 34% more than they did last time (six years ago). If they've been setting aside money for the last five years, planning on maybe a 10% increase in price in keeping with the past, then they're getting a sudden, unpleasant surprise.

      Looking around a bit, I found a detailed school system budget (the Norwalk, Connecticut public schools). It's the first one I found -- I didn't select it specially. In it, the textbook cost is about 0.1% of the budget. I'm going to assume that's normal for a year in which no new books are being introduced. If we accept the Kentucky figure that textbooks are 1% of the overall budget over time, then that implies that in a year of book replacement, new books are 5.9% of the budget. Call it 6% for ease of figuring. If that's what it was in the last cycle, and prices have risen 34%, but budgets haven't increased, then the new cost is 8% of the budget, for a shortfall of 2% of the budget. Looking back at Norwalk's budget again, overall budget is about $200m... so that would be $4m for them. So, yeah... they'd be looking at a multi-million

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:21AM (#41487843) Homepage Journal
    because technology companies are running into huge shortages of workers,

    No, that is not the issue. The issue is you, the employers, do not want to hire people above a certain age, people who might need a bit of training to get them up to speed or people you will have to pay what their skills are worth.

    There are tons of people in the IT field, not just programming, who are either stuck where they're at or unemployed because of your deliberate actions to not hire them. Telling someone to upgrade their skills, which they do at their own expense, then be told, "Well, it's not EXACTLY what we're looking for", then whining you can't find anyone is the direct result of your actions.

    You cannot expect every person you hire to have the EXACT experience you want, especially when you refuse to provide training. If all you want are experienced people but don't train anyone, then eventually you will run short/out of experienced people because no one was trained to replace them.

    Start hiring people who are close to what you need, regardless of age, train them in the way YOU want them to be, and you your supposed shortage will magically disappear.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:41AM (#41488115)

      As someone who is having trouble hiring people in IT in my home area where there are rumors the unemployment rate is 2% or less for IT, I can promise you we're not having a problem because we're not looking for wide enough.

      What the real problem for me happens to be that people aren't willing to learn once they come on board. They want to pretend they're experts in their field and know everything there is to know and how dare I insult their intelligence with a technical interview which shows me (and them) how narrow their knowledgebase really happens to be.

      While I disagree with STEM as a concept in education, there are those who believe it is really a worthwhile venture because it shifts how education is done. I argue that if the STEM model is that great, it should be rolled out to ALL K-12 and not simply those who win the lottery and get into a STEM-focused institution. But that's besides the point here.

      What we really need to focus on is teaching children that they can always learn and should seek it out. Egotistical coders are nothing new and will not likely change, but if we could capture at least some people and change their attitude, we could really have a thriving group of individuals who are all about bettering themselves continually. This may eventually spread to employers who are willing to train, develop, and lead people in new directions to create a better overall product instead of hiring what they believe are the best of the best who just happen to be very good at feeling they can accurately assess someone's abilities in a few interviews.

    • Another issue is that the US gov't spends more on debt interest than on education. http://www.usfederalbudget.us/defense_budget_2012_3.html [usfederalbudget.us] There's a math joke in there somewhere.

    • by fermion (181285)
      It is true that much of the shortage comes about because companies want to hire people who will work hard with few distractions, like family, and have what are 'current' skills, and has a particular degree. There are certainly a lot of people out there that, with a bit of training, could do a good job.

      One must also consider that if I hire a immigrant, and sponsor them, or if they are undocumented, I have much more control over that person than if i hire a citizen with freedom to move to a better job, or

  • Straw Poll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:25AM (#41487905) Journal

    Slashdot seems to have its fair share of the sort of 'high skill STEM/IT/Tech' types that Mr. William H. Gates III is referring to a shortage of, so, I ask:

    Is this a 'shortage' as in "Yup, damn headhunters won't stop calling and I'm turning down fairly attractive offers just for not being very attractive on a routine basis." or a 'shortage' as in "Cry, cry, we want CCNAs with a decade of experience to be begging when we offer them 30k/yr!"?

    • I'd definitely say the first one. I get a new call from a headhunter at least every week. My female coworkers get them practically daily. And none of us are anything that special - ~5 years of dev experience in java/C++/web stuff.

      The thing is, most "qualified" programmers suck. When I was in college I would trust maybe 1/4 of the people in the class to work with me on a group project. Programming is hard, and good software engineering (which is a separate problem) is even harder.

      Combine that with the fact t

    • Mostly the latter but some of the former. I regularly get job offers (about 3 a month) of some head hunter of company looking to for someone with my specialized skill set. I frequently turn them down because they often are for 30-40k/yr while I currently make over twice that. I have had some real offers from companies my company does work for that would have been a pay increase, but I would have to move to a more expensive area (D.C.) that would eat up the raise and then some.
    • Re:Straw Poll (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:59AM (#41488377)

      Posting as AC for obvious reasons.

      I work for Microsoft as an SDE (currently Level 60, or SDE 1). I got hired on straight out of college two years ago and some change. I have only a BS in electrical engineering. I turned down an offer from Google at the same time (the starting salary was the same, but they wanted me to move to California). After one promotion-based pay raise, one pay-raise last year across all of MS R&D, and one normal yearly pay-raise, I make $104k base salary at one of MS's satellite offices, and I'm 24. I am contacted by a headhunter about every one to two months. The offers are so-so, but all the ones that would pay me anywhere near a comparable salary to MS want me to move somewhere crappy.

      I work with quite a number of people here on foreign-hire programs, but I don't really know which programs (I hear some are more controversial than others). They are competent engineers and most have a higher level than I do (SDE 2 or Senior SDE), mostly because they have a higher education level and have been here longer. I can only assume that means they get paid more, but I don't know that for sure (and just in case they don't, I won't ask).

  • Then pay taxes, MS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:30AM (#41487977)

    If MS wants the U.S. to educate its workers, then perhaps MS needs to stop looking for ways to pay U.S. taxes [blogspot.com].

    Oh, that's right. MS just wants the other U.S. taxpayers to increase MS's profits. I forgot.

  • by Dareth (47614) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:33AM (#41488015)

    Go hire and train this years graduates! That is all it will take to prime the pump and keep the student/worker training going.

    I know of way too many people with STEM degrees who work outside their field because they could never get the "entry level" experience in the field.

  • by MrRobahtsu (8620) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:33AM (#41488017)

    'We need to do something new,' he said. 'We need to try something different.'

    Since education spending has tripled or quadrupled (depending on who you ask) over the past 30 years, and and educational outcomes have been virtually unchanged, yeah, dumping more money into a crumbling educational bureaucracy is really new and different. That'll probably work.

    Until we do something about this, more money is not going to help any more than it already has:
    graph [manlyexcellence.com]

  • bankrupted statement (Score:5, Interesting)

    by k6mfw (1182893) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:33AM (#41488021)

    "technology companies are running into huge shortages of workers"

    I've heard this shortage of workers again and again so much it is a bankrupted statement. I've heard back in 1980s about shortage of engineers, only to have engineers laid off in early 1990s. then again shortage of engineers in 1990s, only to have layoffs in early 2000s.

    Perhaps there is a shortage of people with good skill mix of hardware and software skills. But from what I see, this has been discouraged. Going into engineering is fine with most people as long as you transition into management two or three years later, otherwise you are perceived as a loser. If you are not a millionaire by the time you are 30, you are perceived as a loser. Many engineers got interests in taking apart stuff (usually not much luck putting them back together) when they were children. Or the youngster hacking into computers or do phone phreaking (now regarded as terrorist activities). And young people experiment with chemistry kits (you old timers from 20th century remember they use to have these available). Many hands-on shop classes have been eliminated. Plus anything techie that is being built is done outside USA (i.e. iPhone, and I'm not sure if you can hack this thing either). Then having do all this plus considerable time with tech courses to what, getting employed in a diminishing industry? Of course if you are a super star then you will always have it great. But if it is like you either have to be really good or you will be scraping by (no in between i.e. middle class), then most people are going to do something else.

    That's my Gripe Of The Month.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      A couple of relevant economic definitions for you:

      shortage: (n) A situation where the price of what you want to buy is going up.
      surplus: (n) A situation where the price of what you want to buy is going down.

      Since employers are buying engineering labor, they want surpluses, not shortages. Since a lot of /.ers are the labor that they're buying, we should want a shortage, not a surplus.

  • by sinij (911942) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:40AM (#41488105) Journal

    There is absolutely no shortage of qualified workers. There is shortage of corporate responsibility.

    With corporations already shed responsibility for retirement and education they are now trying to shed responsibility for on-job job-specific training.

    As a veteran of a tech sector, I had to escape into consulting/regulation side exactly because of this phenomena.
     
    You are expected to upgrade/maintain your qualifications without any kind of time/money allowance from the employer, but then most corporations would not promote from within, so you are stuck at the same wage level. Then when you finally leave to get your promotion they expect to hire someone with exact qualifications you had, never mind the fact that you left because they didn't pay you enough.

    Culture of promoting from within and investing in on-job training has to come back. You can't expect to perpetually suppress wages, not invest into your workers and have people willing to do it. Eventually people figure out this is bad field to work in and jump the ship.

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:43AM (#41488149)
    one of the richest most greediest companies in the world telling one of the most corrupt government's in the world where to spend money, this is laughable. it is going to take a lot to overhaul the education system, and a lot more than throwing money at it, it is going to take a fundamental change in the people that run the educational system, plus the children getting educated need a better frame of mind,
  • by xtal (49134) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:43AM (#41488151) Homepage

    One of the great democratizing things that's happened with the rise of App Stores, free tools, computers so cheap they're effectively free, open access to information.. and access to virtual manufacturing tools - is that now you can start a company with little capital from just about anywhere.

    Keep whining. Soon you won't be needed, and the technically minded can connect directly with those who want the goods and services produced by their skills.

    Much like Napster and iTunes fortold the end of the multi-million dollar record deals, but enabled a whole generation of new musicians to make a decent living, access to cheap tools, social networking connections, kickstarter type operations, and virtual machine and manufacturing shops will be the end to the Bill Gates empires of the world.

    Or maybe not, but I like to think the free market, like nature abhors a vacuum and while slow, will respond in kind.

    I might be a little older now, but I'm not jaded yet.

  • by swb (14022) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:46AM (#41488201)

    ...they've forgotten how it actually works.

    If you can't find people to hire, you're not offering enough money. If designing widgets or software had an advantageous salary (relative to marketing or finance), people would go into this field.

    If you have decent people but they need to work with a new technology, train them. Even if they just have potential or are pretty green, train them. I can't remember when this changed, but at some point companies just stopped training and decided that they would only hire pre-trained people or worse yet, support a gladiatorial culture where workers are expected to train themselves or get replaced with 20 year olds who "already know it".

    You have to change the sclerotic culture of business so that it's not a class of financial engineers and marketers who are treated as an aristocracy while engineers and more general labor are treated as plebs. I had a telling conversation with my wife, a senior marketing executive, about this. She basically came out and said that engineers were only worth so much money, period, and if they couldn't be had for that figure then they needed to be imported. But sales and marketing executives have no such cap, and they need to be paid whatever it takes to hire the right person. And she works for a company where there would be no product without engineers!!

  • by grep_rocks (1182831) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:53AM (#41488279)
    Why do all these so-called capitalists suddenly forget the laws of supply and demand when it comes to workers - if you _pay_ them more the supply will increase - remember the nursing shortage? the problem was none of the hopsitals wanted to pay the nurses what the market called for - these assholes just want an oversuplly of cheap, skilled labor - I hate these fuckers.
  • Here in Oklahoma, we are desperately looking for programmers, engineers, and believe it or not: welders. Three local companies have Billboards up looking for welders, who are paid more than engineers!
    • Here in Oklahoma, we are desperately looking for programmers, engineers, and believe it or not: welders. Three local companies have Billboards up looking for welders, who are paid more than engineers!

      I believe that. Grew up there and graduated from OU with a degree in engineering. Even if those companies did pay more than my big city pay and no doubt cost of living is cheaper, I still wouldn't move back. There are certainly worse places to live, but I wouldn't move there either. Neither would any of the other Okies I know in the computer industry that migrated around the same time I did. Pretty much everybody I knew from college has fled to at least as far as Texas.

  • History and trends apparently haven't driven this point home.

    If what gives a great education is money, Camden, NJ (the poorest city in America) should have the most awesome education available since the amount of federal and state aid it gets per pupil is truly staggering.

    Does money help? Sure. But it can't make up for parents who don't care, broken homes, etc.

    If throwing money at education would solve the problem, it would be solved by now.

    • by ProfBooty (172603)

      Thats one of the things people seem to forget, that culture plays a signifigant part in learning outcomes. Plus the american educational system isn't really all that well set up to provide situations which develop independent thinking and problem solving ability.

  • Has anyone thought about asking the kids what they want to learn? The most ineffective way of teaching is forced teaching, you can throw a million dollars of technology at a student but if they don't enjoy using it then it's a waste. I think we should segment the school system, take the kids who want a technical based education and put them in one stream with a lesser degree of emphasis placed on English and all the like courses and then just Vice Versa. Oh course this would start in grade 7 when kids are s
  • I have an idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:17AM (#41488663) Homepage

    'We need to do something new,' he said. 'We need to try something different.'

    How about pay STEM people reasonable wages and offer reasonable benefits. I am sick of getting offers in the $30-$40k range to jump from my current position that currently pays over double that. I do get real offers now and then but probably 80% are the joke ones where they want people with 5 to 10+ years experience in a laundry list of not widely used technologies, want a minimum of a BS with a MS or PhD preferred, and expect you to start at $30k a year with 2 weeks vacation. I got a call from a recruiter the other day who thought I might be interested in some positions that ended up I laughing at because the offerings were absurd. She was shocked at the amount of money it would take to get me to change my job, even though it was only about a 10% increase over what I currently make. I have gotten offers for almost twice what I make but would have to move to places I don't want to live that cost over twice what it costs where I currently live so it would have been a net loss for me.

  • Sure, let's throw more money at the problem. Money solves all issues! We don't need brains, or make wise decisions. Just throw more money at it! How's that education working out for the Microsoft people lobbying Congress to do this? Not so well I see.

  • by AntiBasic (83586) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:30AM (#41488861)

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/public-school-spending-theres-a-chart-for-that/

    We're spending 300% more than we were in 1970, yet, scores aren't going up.

    • I blame the western culture of "special".

      In school, Everyone is Special. Everyone gets a prize for participating.

      The only prizes I got in school, I damn well worked hard for. I never saw anything in my early years, apart from promotion from a lower class to another, largely because of a lack of the athletic achievement that was essential for our school awards scheme.

      Later on, I was the best in school in two out of three of the major sciences, and part of their most successful rowing team ever with trophies

  • wanna bet that if this money does start flowing that Microsoft will do everything it can to grab as much of it as possible??

    (spend 48K on "dinners" get 4.8B in business)

    (oh and to the folks trying to get a degree DREAMSPARK ---- best way to get MS stuff without paying for it LEGALLY

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:37AM (#41488945)

    They get things like this passed because they have an asswad of liquid assets to lobby with. It won't surprise me when this goes through.

  • Microsoft says we need to invest $500M/year for the next ten years ($5BN total) to create even more STEM graduates.

    No, we need kids to walk out of 12th grade functioning at a 12th grade level in reading and math, college is the new high school, as reported in today's USA Today.

    SAT scores are declining, college costs are soaring, and everyone seems to think that taking on massive student debt and waiting four years (or more) to enter the work force is the key to future success.

    It is time to do something diff

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:17PM (#41489501)

    We need to produce high-skill jobs to occupy high-skill graduates. And we need medium-skill and low-skill jobs to employ the people who aren't up to doing high-skill jobs.

    In short, we need more jobs. And that means we have to get off of dependency on manufactured goods exported from near-slave-labor countries.

    Gates is talking about slapping a band-aid on a gaping wound.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:53PM (#41490029) Journal

    We're reliving the 1930s. There are currency wars, trade wars, etc. That's not to say that it's not a good thing, even though it's recessionary. Huh?

    Flash back to 1990s discussion with comm-school room-mate. Me: This NAFTA and Free Trade thing is a bad idea. Him: We need this to make the economy grow. Me: Then we're doomed because you can only grow until you have Free Trade agreements with the entire world. Him: Comm school profs are telling us this. You're just an undergrad, what do you know?

    Flash forward again. What I think this really means is that there's an optimal level of trade. Free Trade isn't free. Unrestrained FT means that certain industries will concentrate in a particular nation, and they will monopolize that industry. The fundamental aspects of monopoly that you are taught in ECON 101 are at odds with the more "advanced" ideas regarding trade that are taught. Comparative advantage at the local level also doesn't scale to the global level--it just creates monopoly nation-states. No, abolishing nation-states doesn't solve this problem either, my dear libertarian friend.

    Long story short, we will regress to the optimal level of trade; but it will be messy. Think of the economic boost from Free Trade agreements as the "party money" you get from selling your industry. Now we have to work to get that money back. Ironicly, the work of regaining industry will actually put people out of work in the near term, because it's initially recessionary.

  • Kids today aren't as often following their passions in school, as much as they're trying to figure out what will be a viable, paying career when they get out. Kids need to follow their passions in education, so when they get into the world of work, they're doing something they love and what they do is better because they're there doing it.

    That said, before we go pouring money into the education system, I think it's time to ask: What should a graduate look like? What skills should they have?

    Today's K12 sys

    • we're becoming an economy based on the Knowledge Age, and we need workers who are Knowledge Workers, not Industrial Workers.

      No, the Knowledge Age is over. It peaked in the 1980 through the 00s, when huge numbers of people started using computers. But as the computers got better and became more interconnected, the steps that involved people became fewer and fewer. Computing has changed from "a computer on every desk" (once Microsoft's corporate goal) to giant data centers with almost nobody inside.

      When you buy something on line, nowhere in the process does a human do any significant thinking. Along the way, a few humans ta

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:07PM (#41490163) Journal

    MS got all sort of tax concessions from the states where they are located.

    If corporation are people why don't they pay income tax the same way human beings have to?

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Well, MS headquarters are in Washington state, which doesn't have an income tax. There certainly are taxes on businesses, though.

  • "We need to try something different." Because throwing money at a problem hoping that will fix it is such a novel idea.

  • Columbia.edu watered down curriculum is nothing more than MSE certification program for Microsoft talent at a price WallSt. wants to pay. This subsidized proposal should be viewed as just such a scam as well

  • Let me see! I sit e here atop this 60 bilion of yearly reveneue, and tell others to invest 5 billion over 5 years, so that I can get people to hire that are cheaper tahn foreigners? Riiiight!

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

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