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Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers? 491

New pweidema writes "Michael Teitelbaum, a senior research associate in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School who has been writing a book on the subject of the current state of employment in science and technology fields, recently spoke at an Education Writers Association Conference about the 'STEM Worker Shortage: Does It Exist and Is Education to Blame?' The National Science Board's biennial book, Science and Engineering Indicators , consistently finds that the U.S. produces many more STEM graduates than the workforce can absorb. Meanwhile, employers say managers are struggling to find qualified workers in STEM fields. What explains these apparently contradictory trends? And as the shortage debate rages, what do we know about the pipeline of STEM-talented students from kindergarten to college, and what happens to them in the job market? An article LA Times summarizes his findings of his findings on the STEM hype: '...some of it comes from the country’s longtime cycle of waxing and waning interest in science; attention seems to focus on science every 10 to 15 years before slacking off. The only forces pushing the idea of STEM doom, he said, are those that have something to gain from it. Mostly those are STEM employers ... that want to pack the labor force with people to suppress wages ... Joining the chorus are universities that want more funding for science programs...'"
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Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?

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  • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:06AM (#46345051)

    ... is the word 'qualified'. I've never interviewed so many stupid smart people ever in my life the last 10 years. People who just got out of college and expect to pull down 6 figure salaries for work they've never done before and have no proof of how good they could be. And people that think they are much better than they really are, but couldn't code their way out of a paper bag. My prior job hired a self-described 'Java programmer' that wrote some of the most horrid code I've ever seen, it didn't even come close to working. Yet he sold himself as a Java expert to the company owner (who had no IT skills), and somehow convinced him to hire him. The only thing it appeared he knew how to do was talk a good talk and use SSIS. Shortly after I left, he managed to completely obliterate a very important production database. That they had to contract with me to recover.

    I now work with some really good developers because the company is choosy about who they hire. But time and time again, they lament about a shortage out there of really good developers. They get plenty of resumes, just no one worth hiring.

    And attitudes ... such a bunch of spoiled babies. It's not just skills either, it's a good work ethic. Sorry .. we do have a dress code where we work. If someone can't manage to wear clean clothes that include long pants and a collared shirt every day because it's a little too restraining, they can't work here. We pay enough, I know they can afford it If someone can't manage to understand that we have standards and security requirements and they can't just write whatever they want and shove it into production, they can't work here.

    So I guess if someone wants mediocrity or less, there is plenty to choose from.

  • Fake job bro (Score:5, Informative)

    by fastgriz ( 1052034 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:26AM (#46345223)
    I work in a small town with a very small number of high tech employers. The place across town posted a job with extremely specific job requirements that happened to align perfectly with my resume... I applied for the job and immediately received a back channel request to withdraw my application because the job opening was posted for a temporary foreign worker they had who had to be given a permanent position or go home... Apparently they were required to post the job and could only hire her if there were no qualified applicants who were US citizens... It's a small town, I didn't want to burn bridges, and already had a good job so I withdrew but I wonder how often this happens where the applicant for the fake job does not get a heads up and has his time wasted interviewing for a fake job opening...
  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:32AM (#46345283) Homepage

    Perhaps you should try using it some time, unless you think Microsoft have written an application that can automatically generate all the business logic for every single organisation that will ever exist.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:49AM (#46345441)

    This is exactly what is going on.

    Except that it is not. There are currently about two million practicing engineers in the USA, and that number is growing by about 70,000 per year. So we are not "shedding" STEM jobs. The unemployment rate for computer professionals and engineers is about 3% [] compared to an overall rate of over 7%.

    I apologize for interrupting this whine-fest with actual facts.

  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:57AM (#46345535)

    The economist says there's never a shortage, just a shortage at a given price. E.g., Robert R. Prechter, Jr: "In a free market, shortages are impossible; there is only a price. Rubies and Picassos are scarce, but there's never a shortage of them. You can buy all you want any day of the week. Just pay the price." [] You can have all you want if you're willing to pay more.

  • And you withdrew? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:04AM (#46345613)

    You should have reported it. They are committing fraud.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:13AM (#46345731)

    An employee has to win the company more than he costs it. Else, the company is better off without him. That's a given. But otoh, the employee has to gain more than his expenses or taking the job would be a loss for him either.

    To take a job, I must first of all be able to afford it. I have to move there, I have to get an apartment there and I have to take into account my running costs. And all that has to be compensated by the wage I will receive or me moving there is simply not viable.

    If you cannot pay more, and workers can't survive on the wage you can offer, then you will not find a new worker. But saying that there is a shortage is simply not true in that case. Even if there were hundred times more workers looking for a job, if that job doesn't pay enough to sustain me, I cannot take it, and neither can anyone else.

    You, in turn, cannot pay more, I understand that. The worker has to get you more than he costs. But understand that the problem is not that there are too few people around, the problem is rather that the circumstances don't allow supply and demand to meet.

  • Re:Future issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:37AM (#46346077)

    Sounds like the company I'm contracting with currently. I hadn't worked at a defense contractor for 20 years, when I was an intern in college, so I was a little shocked when I came to work here and found that everyone seemed to be near retirement age. It's OK though, in 10 years they won't need to replace these people because this company (despite being a F500) isn't going to be around I'm fairly sure. There doesn't seem to be much work going on, there's a lab downstairs I use that's full of test stands that look like they haven't been used in 30 years, and there doesn't seem to be much of a future. The company is profitable only because they can bill the DoD ridiculous sums of money for systems for white elephant airplanes.

  • by geek ( 5680 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @12:21PM (#46346639)

    Sorry .. we do have a dress code where we work. If someone can't manage to wear clean clothes that include long pants and a collared shirt every day because it's a little too restraining, they can't work here.

    Fuck you and your dress code. I've dealt with shit bags like you for 20 years. I don't meet with customers. There is no reason why I cant wear shorts to work. You're a pretentious douche bag. Listen here, people don't like being fucking zombies, walking single file into their cubicle farm to be barked at by a fuckwad like you about fucking TPS reports. Assholes like you walk around the office looking like fucking peacocks stinking up the office with your god-awful cologne and hitting on every chick in the office until she quits and files a sexual harassment suit.

    I've done just fine for decades in my shorts and t-shirts when its 105 degrees outside. You want to wear a suit and tie in that kind of weather, be my fucking guest. Just don't sit next to me with your BO stink mixed with cheap cologne. I sincerely hope an employee slaps this piss out of you for being such an anal fucking douche bag. You would deserve it.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"