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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 hubang ( 692671 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:56AM (#46344959)
    No. We do not have a shortage. The US has been shedding STEM jobs, not gaining unfilled ones. For almost 3 decades at this point.

    There is a vested interest in driving down wages for those few jobs that remain however.
  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:57AM (#46344971)

    We have a shortage of employers willing to pay market rates.

  • by YahoKa ( 577942 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:59AM (#46344997)
    I've you've ever hired for a stem job, you will know: there are plenty of people with the right degree out there. Finding one with a degree who understands even half of what they learned is another.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:03AM (#46345027)

    Mod parent up!

    This is exactly what is going on. There isn't a shortage of STEM workers at all. There is a shortage of STEM workers willing to work for minimum wage. What companies want is H1-B factories. Cheap foreign labor. I don't know who will buy their products when nobody has a high enough paying job to afford them though.

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:04AM (#46345037) Journal
    Because nobody wants to do on the job training any more. And chances are if a company is hiring a DBA, it's because they are short a DBA. If there is anyone else on the database team, they're going to be struggling to do the work of two people and won't have time to train anyone else.

    Companies want someone who has already been trained to do the job they are hiring for. They want someone who can hit the ground running.
  • by DudeTheMath ( 522264 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:12AM (#46345091) Homepage

    This (no mod points today). I'm a dynamite C programmer, some small experience in JS & C#, and I know how to design an rdb schema and write a stored procedure, but I don't have "4 years experience with jdb and Netbeans". Whatevs: give me three weeks with actual stuff to do, and you probably couldn't tell the difference, but it's darned hard to get hired.

  • the real shortage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kcmastrpc ( 2818817 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:15AM (#46345119)
    are the budgets. if x company wants to hire qualified developers, they could - at a premium. instead, they bargain shop in an effort to save 20-30k a year per developer, and as a result bring on board sub-par developers that wreck their product and leave them in worse condition had they just spent the money to begin with.

    the cycle is somewhat humorous to me, and I laugh at every job posting I see looking for `rockstars` at 55-65k a year when other companies in the area are offering up 65-85k for the same job. (caveat, I don't work in the valley or in NY - so wages aren't on par with those markets)
  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:15AM (#46345121)

    Raising how much you pay is a great way to get people who want to work for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:15AM (#46345125)

    What companies want is H1-B factories. Cheap foreign labor.

    Yes, that is what they want, but what they don't realize is that they actually get if they got what they ask for.
    If I import cheap labor that is exactly what I get, cheap labor.
    Expensive labor exists overseas too. It is expensive because they know what they are doing and are worth the extra cost. What you get when you import cheap labor is the ones who aren't competitive in their native market.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:20AM (#46345149)

    if you can't find the talent you're looking for at the price you want, then the problem is with you and your price - not the talent. if you're not getting enough "bang for your buck" then you have either grossly overestimated the "bang" you're going to find or you've grossly underestimated the "buck" that you're going to need to spend.

    i can't go car shopping and complain that no one will sell me a car for ten bucks, then say "oh well i guess i don't get a car and you don't get to sell me a car!"

    if the talent "isn't worth the money" then i guess you don't really need it.

  • Not just in the US (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:20AM (#46345155)

    It's interesting that in the Netherlands, tech companies have been telling the government that there is a shortage of about 30.000 IT workers. However, if you're actually looking for a job and trawl the internet for vacancies, you'll quickly conclude that there are about 500 vacancies tops.
    There are plenty of qualified, motivated and intelligent IT professionals. If companies have such a big shortage of IT workers, they should just publish the vacancies, hire the best who apply and shut the fuck up.

  • by wayne_t ( 668999 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:27AM (#46345237)

    Having been on both sides, interviewer and interviewee in the past few years there are problems on both sides. And, it also depends on what you mean by qualified.

    For example, NFL teams complain that there is a lack of qualified people who can throw a football even though every college team in the country has 3 or 4 on the roster. However, there is only one Peyton, Brady, or Brees. There is a reason they get paid an insane amount of money and it's because once you've narrowed the field to the best 32 guys in the country, there is still a big difference in quality.

    However, the difference between superstar programmer and basically competent programmer is probably on the range of 5 to 10K at most on average. What companies mean when they say "qualified" is frequently superstar. They want 10+ years of experience in 10 different technologies and would prefer that you be under 30 and fairly cheap. They don't want to pay the equivalent of Brady or Brees salary (relatively not literally). They want people who do it because they "love" it or have passion for it.

    Where I work, for programmers and engineers (P.E. types), not only do you need to be better than minimally competent in your technical field you also need to be able to manage people and do business development. How many people do you know who are average to above in a technical area, management, and marketing? And yes, we complain we can't find "qualified" people. I keep pointing out that every company would like to have the people we want and there just isn't that many to go around. In the end, coaching or management is taking a group of guys and leading them to perform such that the team is greater than the sum of the parts. It's easier if you have all stars at every position, but that is almost never going to happen.

  • by IgnorantMotherFucker ( 3394481 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:29AM (#46345255) Homepage

    What they teach in a Computer Science degree are some of the more common or interesting algorithms, algorithm analysis and design, some operating system theory, say how to write a mouse driver as did my friend at UC Santa Cruz.

    So you get out on the workforce looking for your first job, and you see that the craigslist "sof / qa / dba" section wants someone who knows PHP, Javascript and MySQL.

    So you buy some books and learn those, maybe you get the job, but eventually you go looking for another job. They want C# .Net, Microsoft Internet Information Server and SQL Server.

    I now have a vast number of technical books, and a hard time getting a job because I've never written an Android App.

    How about on-the-job training? There were at least at one time some companies that did it. That's how I learned Java, Python, Smalltalk, Postscript and UNIX Sysadmin. But on the job training is very uncommon these days, because employers want "someone who can hit the ground running".

    If you paid your new hire to spend his or her first week reading an O'Reilly book, then the next month paired up with a more experienced coder, you'd find that there is no shortage of workers, rather there is a surplus.

  • by philip.levis ( 1997004 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:29AM (#46345261)
    STEM covers a wide range of fields; while there is a shortage of computer scientists and engineers (mostly due to the fact that many non-CS engineers go into software), there is an oversupply of biologists and other sciences. []
  • Class Wars (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:31AM (#46345277)
    Good employees are almost always available if an employer is really willing to pay. Whether it is an IT professional or a feild worker picking oranges it distills down to the same issue. If farmers paid enough there would be American laborers who would instantly leap to picking oranges. And if technology oriented companies are really willing to pay then the best workers will stand in line to get hired. Two issues exist. The first is a class warfare type of situation where the bosses feel that they are superior and employees are just convenient dirt to be misued at will. Only a shallow pretence of caring about employees is made. The second issue is that many businesses have no reason to exist and actually simply can not pay good wages for quality workers. In my area restaurants are a huge example. We have far too many restaurants that stand almost elbow to elbow, Most go broke or survive on a thread. They get by on the hope that one day they will become popular and capture the market. Employees is such businesses only do well by accident and in fact the owners may become enraged to find that a worler does well while they dread their businesses survival odds. Politics enters in when borders are allowed to be easy to cross or work permits for foreigners are common. And the tax payer is the chump who pays for it all. Picture an American who can not survive on wages picking fruit being replaced by an illegal immigrant. The American ends up on unemployment, or disability or welfare. the farmer hires the illegal worker for one third the pay and the tax payer pays for the American worker who is idled.
  • by Amtiskaw ( 591171 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:37AM (#46345311)

    Nonsense. You can easily hire top people, you just have to be willing to pay them enough. Whatever you're offering, keep doubling it and see if you're still not getting great candidates walking in the door. This is what Netflix do: They routinely offer salaries at significantly above market rate, and they have far less trouble hiring software engineers than the other Silicon Valley firms who complain about a lack of talent.

    Now, you may say, "but we can't afford to offer salaries that high!" and maybe that's true, but it means that the candidates you want are out of your price range, not that they're not out there. For companies that can't pay, the solution is obvious: Encourage as many people as possible to enter STEM fields, thus increasing the pool of candidates, which in turn increases the smaller pool of elite candidates. Greater supply and equal demand causes a drop in price, and companies an now hire better talent for mediocre wages.

    This equation is the only reason by tech companies have been attaching themselves to these ludicrous campaigns to teach everybody to code. Not because they really believe their some social benefit to every school kid being able to make their own smartphone app, but because they want to increase their profits by lowering their wage bill. This is hardly wild speculation, given we know for a fact that tech CEOs spent most of the 2000s illegally conspiring to lower wages via mutal non-recruitment agreements: []

  • by Njovich ( 553857 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:40AM (#46345331)

    "Well, if the talent isn't worth the money in terms of bang for buck for the company, then I guess that's that, employer doesn't get a new employee and the employee doesn't get the job. Its unfortunate for both sides at that point"

    Given that you said yourself that the employees are nearly universally employed already (for a salary they apparently accepted), I would say that from the side of the employee this is not an unfortunate situation at all.

  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:50AM (#46345461)

    There's no conspiracy to push down wages - these are real complaints. The same problem exists in many fields - there's a difference between good people and qualified people. As a hiring manager, when I complain about finding qualified people, I mean people that can show, in an interview, that they're open to and reasonably good at learning.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Firstly -- and I'm not trying to be sarcastic or snarky here -- do you want qualified people that are "open to and reasonably good at learning," or people "that can show, in an interview, that they're open to and reasonably good at learning"? Because these aren't necessarily the same thing. You're looking for someone who interviews well, probably because you don't have that many other good methods of readily determining his qualifications. But that can be a problem, because a good interviewee isn't necessarily a good on the job learner. A worst-case scenario is hiring a guy that sounds good but is just a great salesman while overlooking a guy who would do a great job but doesn't present himself as well as the other guy.

    Now one can certainly respond that candidates for jobs should be able to present themselves well. Being able to "sell" oneself obviously works. But that's solving a different problem. It's solving the "I didn't get hired" problem from the candidate's POV, not the "I can't find a good candidate" problem that HR has.

    Also, you say you're not trying to push down wages. But of course you are. Not maliciously. You just don't want to spend more than you have to, do you? I don't go to the grocery store looking to needlessly spend more than I have to on fruit. But on the other hand, you're not usually gonna get top quality produce at bargain prices. You pay your money and make your choice.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:50AM (#46345465)

    and not treating them like 'resources' to be laid off the very moment the financials look less rosy, THAT will also keep engineers working for you and loyal.

    I just recently went thru a major layoff and it was cold and cruel. they fired most of the american workers (silicon valley area) and every single asian and indian worker was left untouched. also, all the ones let go were of 'older age'.

    stop treating us like disposables and maybe you'll find it easier to retain people. instead, its a revolving door where you bring people in, refuse to train them and then walk them out the moment things get hard, business-wise.

    oh, and right after we fired 1/3 of our staff, they hired another person. yes, indian. I rest my case.

  • Regional Crisis (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:56AM (#46345521)

    There is not a national STEM problem but there are places with very local and very acute problems with finding enough people for the work available. For multiple reasons and factors most of those STEM style jobs left for elsewhere but the need for scientists and engineers didn't from places like Idaho and Tennessee.

    I fully expect you can't walk through a crowed mall in Seattle or San Fransisco without bumping into someone who is STEM educated. I also fully expect that there are people who would do anything for another lab scientist or engineer on staff in a company located in Omaha, Nebraska.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:01AM (#46345573)

    [posting AC because I'm talking about my current employer]

    Or, what they want are experienced people willing to work for entry-level salaries. I've been trying to fill a position for six months now, but no qualified person will work for what I'm permitted to offer them. So we've just been doing without, and the longer that goes on, the more likely the PHBs are to withdraw the position altogether.

    This is a natural outgrowth of the old HR saying about attracting "the best and the brightest" but only paying "market" salaries, i.e., 80th percentile talent for 50th percentile pay.

  • by BigDaveyL ( 1548821 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:04AM (#46345609) Homepage

    Of course training needs to be improved, or at least there is some room for improvement.

    My issue is that corps talk a big game - there there is a shortage of qualified candidates. What there is a shortage of is good training, planning, career paths and adequate salary. If there was really a shortage, we'd see changes in these areas.

  • S != T != E != M (Score:5, Insightful)

    by itamblyn ( 867415 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:06AM (#46345633) Homepage
    A large part of the problem stems (heh :) from the fact that the disciplines are not interchangeable. Policy makers typically do not have backgrounds in _any_ of the fields, so they see little distinction between a computer science student, software engineer, math, physics, etc. While we can all agree that those disciplines are technical in nature, the fact is you do not learn the same set of skills. When employers say then need more STEM grads, they aren't looking for a generic chemistry or biology student. They want a C++ coder, or they want someone that can build an antenna, or someone that can operate a mass spec. The learning outcomes from different STEM degrees are vastly different. Notwithstanding issues related to wages, H1-B etc, the acronym itself is a big part of the problem.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:07AM (#46345639)

    I'm a postdoc, which puts me about as far down the narrow end of the qualifications wedge as you can get. I'm still competing with about 10 other postdocs (and never you mind all the underqualified noise) for every position I go for, corporate or academic. That is not a ratio that speaks of a shortage of employable candidates.

    Believe me, anyone who reaches this stage really, really wants to be in STEM. The jobs just aren't there, unless you want to go into quantitative analysis at a bank. They just never stop hiring.

  • by FacePlant ( 19134 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:15AM (#46345763)

    You didn't say anything about this explicitly, so I'll add it.
    The people who study balance sheets, and decide whether tr not to risk their money on your company (either in the form of equity or loans), have apparently all decided that cheap labor is a universal good, and profits that come at the expense of squeezing them out of your labor employees, rather than from increased sales, are also markers of good management.

    The effects of hiring the cheap labor (and the overall lesser skill levels that come with it) are not felt for several quarters, and since everything is all about this quarter, hiring twice the labor for two thirds the cost looks good on the current balance sheet. Plus they get to inflate their work force numbers. Since the goal of every manager is to grow head count and budget, and since nobody can objectively judge how efficiently you ran your department, more head count is better. Especially when you can't grow your budget, and especially when you can shrink you budget at the same time.

    The a couple of years later, when your company starts to implode, you get your golden parachute, and the company becomes somebody else's short term problem.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:16AM (#46345785) Homepage Journal

    " I don't want someone who knows how to run, I want someone who loves running."
    code for "I want people to work a bunch of hours for free and then toss them as soon as they have a person priority."

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:24AM (#46345887)

    You get what you pay for. Seriously. The beef I have with some requirements is that they want the engineering equivalent of star lawyers and Donald-Trump-level managers, but pay in the lower 5 digits. That's not going to meet up.

    Of course there are unreasonable expectations on both sides of the fence, where some college drop out wants 6 figures and a car on company expense because he knows how to spell TCP/IP without too many errors, but in my experience the unreasonable expectations are rather on the company's side than on the employee's.

    The main problem I've encountered is that companies want university level programmers and pay them like unskilled labor. And that's simply not going to work out. My budget per programmer was (in the beginning) somewhere around 40k a year. Do you think you can get highly skilled programmers with a very specific subset of skills (in this case security, which by itself is already hard to find and right now is near impossible to find) for that? I don't.

    We're now closer to double that and we still have troubles finding good people. Oh, we could get all sorts of code monkeys who will of course write code that works (with security holes to shove planets through, of course), who have no idea of QA or even the simplest kind of security protocol and who think procedures only exist as part of their code. No problem, for a fraction of even the 40k. But I simply don't need them!

    I need good people, and it took a while to get the upper ones to finally understand that money does the talking here. Yes, of course I want people who also "love" their work. Seriously, you don't get old in this kind of biz if you don't like what you do. But these people are highly skilled and highly sought after. And, bluntly, if you pay me 40k and someone else pays 75k to do the same thing, I really wish to hear your reason why I should take your job for 40k.

  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:25AM (#46345909)

    IMHO, there is FAR too much emphasis being placed on so-called "critical thinking" in education which leads to too many people thinking they are qualified to be critical of other peoples' (read: STEM peoples') real work. The vast majority of "critical thinkers" have never created anything practical in their lives. That aside, there is always a shortage of STEM workers with currently needed knowledge. I saw this back in college and grad engineering. The professors were teaching stuff that was useful for their generation and not for what was coming. This is where the real problem lies. Trouble is, the people who are qualified to teach upcoming marketable skills are too busy working in the real world to teach.

  • by Bigbutt ( 65939 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:38AM (#46346095) Homepage Journal

    Tough call. I work a bit north of Denver so I'm not in the south near the Tech Center. When looking for a job at the Tech Center 6 years ago (IBM sucks let me just say), where most of the technical jobs are, the offers were for around 75k. When I asked for a little wiggle room since I was making about 92k at the time plus a job at the Tech Center would mean having to drive through Denver to get to the job (or move of course), but the companies were pretty firm. I found a new job in my area for 95k am now making over 6 figures (haven't checked my W2 yet but around that). I'm pretty happy where I am even though I think I had 3 raises in the past 6 years, not even cost of living increases really.

    And just so you know, I don't mind driving. I commuted from Stafford VA to Columbia MD for a year to work at Johns Hopkins APL and lived in the DC metro area for over 30 years :)


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

    by robot256 ( 1635039 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:43AM (#46346171)
    That's what happens when your company doesn't have a pipeline to train new employees, and only focuses on maximizing return on the ones they have. A healthy organization would have people with 20 years of experience to replace those with 30 when they retire, and people with 10 years of experience to replace the ones with 20, etc. Reduces your efficiency in the short term because you have to support some who aren't as experienced but preserves institutional memory much better.
  • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:57AM (#46346349) Homepage
    I think we can all agree that a CISSP certificate holder is just as incompetent and useless at $16,000.00 per year as they are at $160,000.00 per year.
  • by deadweight ( 681827 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @12:19PM (#46346611)
    Maybe if his income depended on it. This is kind of a 'tragedy of the commons" in reverse. Factory owner A does not suffer when he cuts pay in half. He has a lot more money! But when EVERY factory cuts their pay to slave wages all of a sudden no one has any customers.
  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @12:24PM (#46346683)

    If you provide specific data, why not cite it? Here are the numbers pulled from the total January 2014 unemployment rate column of your link:
    - Overall unemployment is 7.0% exactly, which you got right
    - The closest category I could find to science professions has a 3.1% unemployment rate
    - Computer and mathematical professionals have a 2.3% unemployment rate
    - Engineers have a 3.8% unemployment rate; the 3% you cited was for a much broader class of professions

    All of those rates are lower than they were last year, suggesting that demand is picking up.

    The NSPE indicates that the number of licensed engineers is around 450,000 [] as of 2010, and that only about 20% of graduates in relevant majors actually go on to become licensed engineers. Their rough estimates are that there are currently about 2.2 million people in the workforce who graduated with a relevant degree, but by no means would all 2.2 million of those people be considered practicing engineers. In fact, the link indicates that 80% of them never got licensed and have likely moved on to another field.

    You also only cited numbers for the E in STEM, then made generalizations about STEM as a whole, which is a bit hand-wavey of you. The article I linked did the reverse of that (as have I, inasmuch as I referenced information from the article), since they talked about T and E when they lumped computer science in with engineering for the 2.2 million number, but then used that number to make specific claims about the number of licensed engineers, despite the fact that P.E. licensure isn't relevant to the vast majority of computer science graduates.

    All in all, the numbers from all of these sources--flawed as they are--seem to suggest that demand for STEM field practitioners is far outstripping the available supply (as indicated by extremely low unemployment rates and extremely low rates of new supply becoming available). As such, while we may not be shedding jobs, we do appear to have a shortage. I make no claims about whether we're shedding jobs or not, since no one in this thread has provided sufficient facts to make their case, though if we are shedding jobs, we must also be shedding new supply at an even faster rate, given that unemployment rates have gone down for all STEM fields over the course of the last year.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @12:29PM (#46346749)

    The real answer is more complicated. Overall, there is an oversupply of STEM workers. That was a major reason why I left research chemistry for a career in medicine. The issue for companies is that they often want to add expertise in a very specific area, and often can't find the appropriate workers. It is somewhat akin to needing a mechanic with experience with a particular portion of the Tesla Model S drivetrain, and when no suitable applicant is found, blaming the problem on an overall lack of automotive mechanics.

  • Colleges don't teach software suites, they teach theories. Programming and information technology should be taught as vocations... high-paying, of course.

    I can't teach your employees how to work in your company. I don't work in your industry or with your tools.

    Universities are not outsourced training programs for private companies. They are places of education. If you want trained employees, train them yourself you cheapskate. The most we can do is make them more trainable.

  • by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @01:48PM (#46347765) Homepage
    Yay for reactionary turd burglers inside Aunt Sally.
  • Re:Class Wars (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:09PM (#46348055)

    You've captured what drives me crazy about the Democratic talking points on illegal immigration

    You've given your home over to the nearest Indian tribe it was stolen from, and made reparations for over 100 years of American imperialism throughout Latin America: crashing economies, supporting fascist massacres, and overthrowing democratically-elected governments?

    No? Then STFU about "illegal immigration" and buy a history book, troglodyte humungoulus.

    on long-term welfare

    Welfare was ended 20 years ago. By a Democrat, replaced with "workfare", where there are lifetime caps on benefits and you have to be looking for work to collect. You've had two full decades to come up with a new talking point, but your resources are obviously limited.

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @03:07PM (#46348955)

    "Meanwhile, employers say managers are struggling to find qualified workers in STEM fields" - at the wages they are willing to pay and with the qualifications they require. This notion that we don't have enough STEM workers is ridiculous. The reason that Employers want more H1-B workers is that H1-B workers don't have the same employment protections that US Citizens have and will work for less money. Period.

    As I see it, here are the problems:

    1) Unrealistic expectations on the part of Employers - Have you seen some of these job postings? They want the applicant to know everything under the Sun and the starting salary is 50K. Good luck with that.
    2) Resume screening programs/HR people - Often, good candidates are excluded from even applying for a job unless they meet each and every requirement. Sometimes the rejection is done via software and sometimes it's someone in HR that simply doesn't understand what the requirements mean and their relative importance to the position. The whole system encourages lying and gaming in order to get the interview.
    3) The insistence that candidates have a 4 year degree - I'm not against higher education but I've been in the business long enough to know that lots of jobs in IT can be done by someone that does not have a 4 year degree, as long as they get the proper training and mentoring. Heck, even people with 4 year degrees need training and mentoring. This notion that people without 4 year degrees are incapable of learning IT skills is elitist and absurd.

    Start addressing some of these issues and the STEM "shortage" will disappear.

    Higher Ed, by the way, loves this idea of giving out more H1-B visas. Why? Because it will attract more foreign students to their schools if the Student can get a Green Card the day they graduate. And foreign students just happen to pay about double the tuition that an in-state, US Citizen would pay for exactly the same courses.

    One thing I have learned working with big Universities over the years - they love money as much as the greedy private sector capitalists that they love to deride.

    So Big Business and Big Education promote the idea of STEM shortage as a means to an end. The US STEM worker gets left out in the cold.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen