Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses United States Science

Science and Engineering Workforce Has Stalled In the US 433

Posted by Soulskill
from the reality-tv-workforce-booming dept.
dcblogs writes "The science and engineering workforce in the U.S. has flatlined, according to the Population Reference Bureau. As a percentage of the total labor force, S&E workers accounted for 4.9% of the workforce in 2010, a slight decline from the three previous years when these workers accounted for 5% of the workforce. That percentage has been essentially flat for the past decade. In 2000, it stood at 5.3%. The reasons for this trend aren't clear, but one factor may be retirements. S&E workers who are 55 and older accounted for 13% of this workforce in 2005; they accounted for 18% in 2010. 'This might imply that there aren't enough young people entering the S&E labor force,' said one research analyst."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Science and Engineering Workforce Has Stalled In the US

Comments Filter:
  • H1b propaganda (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:21PM (#39221663)

    Arrr, a shit storms a brewin!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Batten down the hatches! *buttons pajama butt flap*
  • by sethstorm (512897) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:22PM (#39221665) Homepage

    The more that business sends that kind of work offshore, the less interested people will be in having the rug pulled out from under them in the Holy and Unquestionable name of Global Competitiveness.

    You want to get people interested in science & engineering? Kill all the guest worker programs, prioritize citizens over internationals for university slots, and start working with business to guarantee long-term work to attract people back.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      No doubt. And as things are today, "intellectual property" is just about all the US has left and with fewer in the science and engineering side contributing to the pool of new ideas, we are left with patent trolls with nearly expired patents trying to milk the world for all they can.

      • Complicated. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MYakus (1625537) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:47PM (#39222015)

        We are educating kids to be users of technology, but not developers or inventors. Every time I've taken a computer or a disk drive or other electronics apart for a demonstration to the Scouts or just kids, they are always amazed. They are never taught beyond a mouse click. A lot of kids coming out of college are no better these days. Another problem is that in our zeal to bring girls into higher education, we are losing boys - those who would be most interested in engineering ( see Carpe Diem website archives for all the graphs and tables on subject preferences, Prof J does a great job of laying that argument out from high school on ).

    • by OldGunner (2576825) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:27PM (#39221741)
      Even if someone decides to enter S&E career fields, there are very few real jobs offered by real employers -- it is much easier to use "this gun is for hire" contractors that you can REALLY abuse and dump with few consequences.
      • Raise the benefit & liability requirements to the same level as FTE. Once all parties except the worker share liability and benefit costs for temporary work, multiplied over the number of middlemen as well as being inversely proportional to the length of the work (with the option to reward lower skill level entry)** one can then kill that abuse.

        ** - i.e. it would reward people who go on directly hired, lifetime employment with one or a few employers over being a one-night-stand contractor.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        I disagree. For many software fields, there's tons of jobs out there. I have tons of recruiters chasing after me every day for my skills.

        The problem is that these jobs are very trendy. The skills that everyone's screaming to hire more employees for now, may be obsolete in 5 years as some other trend takes over. It's not that easy to stay current and stay with the in-vogue trends. Why go into a career field like that, when you can go into business or finance where you're not expected to be an expert on

        • by timeOday (582209) on Friday March 02, 2012 @02:17PM (#39222427)

          I disagree. For many software fields, there's tons of jobs out there. I have tons of recruiters chasing after me every day for my skills. The problem is that these jobs are very trendy.

          Which is exactly what the GP meant saying that "few real jobs offered by real employers -- it is much easier to use this gun is for hire contractors." So maybe they're staff jobs instead of contractor gigs. But if somebody is hiring you to use a specific tool, don't you wonder what's happening to the people they hired 4 years ago to use some other specific tool that's now uncool? And what becomes of those used-up people?

          It is extremely difficult to spend a full career surfing short-term trends. Fall off the wave for a short while, then how do you get back on? Start a family, how can your spouse have a career if you're job-chasing to a new city every other year? And what about career progression? If your skillset recycles every 4 years, you're no more valuable after 25 years than you were after 4. And then there's ageism. Many people find it tiring to chase after the latest craze eventually. Even if you're an exception, many employers simply won't see you as the picture of what they have in mind for an infusion of new tech to help them stay up-to-date.

        • by s73v3r (963317)

          That's a continuing education thing, and quite frankly, I wouldn't want anyone on my staff who isn't interested in increasing their skillset over the time they work for me. (Note: This is far different than constantly changing to the flavor of the week language).

          And I'd be pretty shocked to find out that finance doesn't have some form of continuing education needed to succeed in that field too.

      • by Raisey-raison (850922) on Friday March 02, 2012 @02:02PM (#39222243)

        There is also another reason why more people are not in the S&E field - the pay sucks! It has fallen in real terms since 2000 (and started falling before this recession). If you get a BS in math, chemistry, physics, bio or biochem you are lucky to start on more than 35K. Some lucky few might start on 40K. Even computer and chemical engineers have seen their pay dropping (yes of course they start on a lot more). I know a Chem E who had to take 50K in a high cost city.

        S&E are very hard degrees. I bet if starting salaries were 60K for science and 90K for engineering lots of people would 'suddenly discover' that they loved science. And yes corporate America could afford to pay them. Since 2000 productivity has increased significantly and profits are at record highs.

        When I hear people saying we need to encourage more people to do STEM - I am incredulous. The solution is very simple - raise salaries and people will run to it. [It's also why top MIT PhDs go into Wall Street - why make 90K with a PhD in science when you can make 350K on Wall Street.]

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          The solution is very simple - raise salaries and people will run to it

          - demand/supply. Obviously it is useless to hire people in USA, otherwise they would have been hired there. The jobs are leaving and so there is no demand, and the demand/supply ratio is what drives prices up or down, and they are down, like on any other product or service that is not in demand.

          It's not in demand.

          It's not in demand in USA, it's in demand elsewhere, and that's because investment capital has moved out and instead, it's all government fake money that is sloshing around, fake credit, fake inte

          • by mikael (484)

            The secondary problem is that there is a housing shortage within the immediate commute area. Employers and cities then have the challenge of shoehorning hundreds of thousand of people into a few dozen square miles. Somewhere like Silicon Valley is one example. First you have the salary differential between CEO's, directors, senior engineers and graduates. Everyone wants to live in a house close to work. Most people from senior engineers upwards are looking for a large home with bedrooms for themselves and t

      • Not true (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday March 02, 2012 @02:36PM (#39222709)

        Even if someone decides to enter S&E career fields, there are very few real jobs offered by real employers -- it is much easier to use "this gun is for hire" contractors that you can REALLY abuse and dump with few consequences.

        Contractors are used with great success appropriately. My father contracted out to a number of contractors the company could never justify having full-time, to do specialist work, which is the whole point. For example - a guy who knew CCDs inside and out. Another specialized in PCB layout, generating boards my father (an EE for decades, no stranger to PCB layout) described as "art."

        All these guys were well compensated for their work and in some cases had more work than they could handle. So, if you're a programmer - find something that you think has a market which interests you and you're highly qualified in, hone your skills, and market yourself. You will never be able to be a contractor as a Java programmer - you're a total commodity.

        If you want to talk about inappropriate use of contractors...well, the IRS has been cracking down on companies that use contractor status to avoid payroll taxes and benefits. My state has been, too.

        • IRS has been cracking down on companies that use contractor status to avoid payroll taxes and benefits.

          The IRS doesn't care if you get benefits or not. Furthermore, they do not crack down on businesses for using contractors unless people stop paying their taxes. The businesses, after all, issue 1099 forms so they can deduct the expenses. If those 1099s stop yielding taxes, the IRS will take it out on the businesses that issued them. The IRS doesn't care what status you claim as long as the taxes get paid. Period. There is always this stupid pedantic argument about the status of workers and it has no basis in

    • by blind biker (1066130) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:39PM (#39221883) Journal

      Or how about turning it upside down, and offshore the most expensive and at the same time most generic workforce: top and middle management.

      Of course, that would never happen. The system is rigged, by and for corporate psychopaths.

      • Don't call everything a conspiracy without looking for more reasonable explanations first. Middle managers have to manage people, as in interacting with them, supervising them. It's not a job that you can reasonably do remotely. Similarly, top level management have to be trusted. You can't just hand the task over to the lowest bidder. You have to give the job to somebody who has some long term incentive to respect the organisation if you want it done well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by loneDreamer (1502073)

      prioritize citizens over internationals for university slots

      I'm sure the slots are there, but it seems US People are not. I'm studying at a top-level CS department in the US, my particular master program has 23 people: 18 Chinese, 3 Indian, 2 American (one from Mexico and myself, from Chile - and yes, we are from America too). Not a single guy from the US. I see the same in most programs (the Chinese/Indian proportion varies). And the guy running the program would love to have a more balanced set of students, it's just that there seem to be not enough candidates or

    • business sends that kind of work offshore

      Kill all the guest worker programs

      How do you send work offshore by inviting guest workers?

  • Young people. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saintlupus (227599) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:22PM (#39221671) Homepage

    So, after a lifetime of watching older members of the science and engineering community get outsourced, downsized, run ragged, and generally mistreated by their employers, young people don't want to sign up for the same thing?

    Good for them. Maybe the kids today are smarter than we thought.

    --saint

    • by mx+b (2078162) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:42PM (#39221929)

      I typically get the feeling the young are stuck between a rock and a hard place for STEM careers. On the one hand we are told over and over that these are important jobs. But then when you go to apply for them, you are told you are too young and need more experience and can't hire you. "Well, can you train me?" "No, you just have to get experience, or go back to school." So you go back to school, and they tell you "Well we don't do job training, our focus is how to *think* and learn the principles needed. Go get a job if you want experience." And so you end up in a bizarre catch-22 where everyone expects you to know everything at a young age, but no one is willing to provide the training you need to get there. It's as if they think scientists grow on trees and you just wait for them to ripen and apply for a job, with their analytical skills and knowledge fully formed. Maybe that was possible in some sense during the baby boom, when it was also more patriotic to go into a STEM field to fight the commies, but today you have to work for it and provide incentives. There are less people for each job, not more.

      Either these are important jobs employers need to support more (with leniency on the expectations of youth, pair them up with an older mentor, on-job training, etc), or they aren't. Suck it up and pay for it instead of whining. But I am tired of the limbo these fields leave many younger people floating in.

      • by w_dragon (1802458) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:49PM (#39222061)
        This is true of most jobs, and STEM aren't the worst off. Talk to someone trying to break into journalism, or acting, or anything else that you would associate with unpaid internships. Getting your first job in almost any professional field is difficult, unless there is a serious shortage of people in that field.
        • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:23PM (#39224355) Homepage
          This is true of most jobs, and STEM aren't the worst off. Talk to someone trying to break into journalism, or acting, or anything else that you would associate with unpaid internships. Getting your first job in almost any professional field is difficult, unless there is a serious shortage of people in that field.
          I missed where Hollywood execs showed up in front of Congress and said there wasn't enough actors or actresses so we need to import a bunch from other countries, or the world complaining that we let all of our good actors and journalists study here and then return to their home countries. B/c that what those who go into STEM jobs see.
      • Well, let's face it, education is the third best thing for getting a job. Second best thing for getting a job is work experience. The number one best thing for getting a job is somebody already at the company that is in your reference list of your resume. They say college is about making connections and after getting out and into the real world, I'd say that is true. My first real jobs were at Adobe where one of my college friends worked because he could walk my resume to the guy doing the hiring and say "t
    • Re:Young people. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dpilot (134227) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:47PM (#39222011) Homepage Journal

      Unfortunately you're right, but it's really an indictment of those at the very top, because this situation is unsustainable.

      First US business' HQ moved the manufacturing overseas, saving a bunch of cost.
      Next US business' HQ moved the development overseas, saving a bunch of cost.
      More recently US business' HQ has been moving research overseas, again presumably saving a bunch of cost.

      Every step of the way, some of those cost savings have gone to the customer and some to US business' HQ. Even as the pay scale of remaining US staff has been flat since 2000, US business' HQ pay scale has been on something approaching 10% CGR.

      At this point there's a lot of money to be saved buy simply ditching US business HQ, moving HQ overseas where all of the work, development, and research are. Plus for some time now, US business' HQ has been largely a one-trick pony, cutting costs by moving jobs overseas. Not a lot of innovation there, not much value-add.

      There are a few notable exceptions of course, Steve Jobs having been one, no matter what kind of prick he might have been, personally. I believe Elon Musk is another, but that also might be because he's making one of my pet wishes (affordable access to space) real.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:22PM (#39221673) Journal

    Why would young people enter science and engineering when they can go into management and finance? Then they can take the credit and pay that would have been taken from them if they had gone into STEM.

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      Why would they go into management and finance when they can slap on a can of spray tan and chug a brew to get on a reality TV series?
    • by s73v3r (963317)

      Agreed. Part of the reason for the doctor shortage in the US is because people who have the talent and ability to become great doctors aren't going into medicine, they're going into finance. Same with engineering.

      What needs to happen is that the "market" needs to correct itself, and realize that these finance jackasses aren't worth anywhere near what they're paid.

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by spike hay (534165) <blu_ice@@@violate...me...uk> on Friday March 02, 2012 @02:18PM (#39222439) Homepage

        Nah. There's plenty of talented people applying to med school. As an example, medical school applicants who get in through affirmative action have no worse outcomes that other medical students, despite having generally lower grades. Thus, the supply of doctors can be increased without compromising quality.

        The real problem is that the AMA has not put in a new medical school for over 30 years, despite the population doubling in that time. They want to keep the supply low to artificially inflate physician salaries.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Brannoncyll (894648) on Friday March 02, 2012 @02:06PM (#39222287)

      Why would young people enter science and engineering when they can go into management and finance? Then they can take the credit and pay that would have been taken from them if they had gone into STEM.

      Fortunately not everyone is motivated by money, or else there would be nobody sticking around with a science or engineering career. If you want my 2 cents, I believe the issue is that the current American culture celebrates the wealthy and looks down upon the educated, unless they are using that education to gain wealth. Its hardly surprising then that in my group (theoretical physics at a big Ivy league university) something like 90% of the PhD students are non-Americans, and of the few American PhD students I have known, most have left physics to work in the finance sector after completing their studies.

  • by composer777 (175489) * on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:23PM (#39221679)

    What they should say is that there aren't enough people willing to work very hard for a an ever shrinking piece of the pie. What do they expect researchers to do when they keep cutting basic science funding? The numbers are terrible right now. Something like 10% of those with new Phd's that apply for a grant actually get it. Who in their right mind would get a Phd for a 10% chance of getting funding? They apparently expect Phd's to be happy to work indefinitely as a post-doc for 30K a year. This trend is very similar for recent engineering graduates.

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      The pie is actually larger today than ever the problem is the number of people who are vying for a slice of it. What I would like to know is the total number of workers the statistics are based on. It is likely there are actually more science and engineering workers but a smaller percentage based against the total number of workers overall.
  • Incentive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LatencyIsTooDamnHigh (2574249) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:23PM (#39221689)
    Maybe if donations to universities went to beefing up outdated science & engineering departments instead of athletes, it might "trickle up" to the real world. But that's just crazy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by s73v3r (963317)

      Athletic departments usually sustain themselves. And in the vast majority of schools, there's a pretty big wall between funding for the school, and funding for the athletic programs.

      • Re:Incentive (Score:5, Informative)

        by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 02, 2012 @03:02PM (#39223059) Journal

        Athletic departments usually sustain themselves.

        This is not true. Only the very largest and most popular athletic programs are profitable. Consider this [reason.com] from Reason magazine:

        Most college athletic departments are a net drain on the budget. Three years ago, the NCAA issued a report that found most athletic departments operate in the red. A more recent analysis by Bloomberg found the same thing: 46 of the 53 schools it looked at subsidized their sports programs. The money usually comes from sources such as student activity fees, such as that charged at Virginia Commonwealth University. Earlier this year VCU jacked up its fee by $50 to help fund the Rams basketball program.

    • by Wilf_Brim (919371)
      The students aren't going into hard science departments because the facilities are outdated. They aren't going into them for the reasons above: the wages are stagnant, mass layoffs are commonplace, the managment views them as a commodity, and H2B workers are brought in to ensure the above stays as it is.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      I don't know that that's really a problem. Most athletics programs (esp. football) are self-supporting from what I hear, or in fact actually bring a lot of money into the university, either from ticket sales or from alumni donations. When I went to engineering school in the 90s, I don't recall funding being much of a problem, or being stuck with obsolete technology; you're not there to learn the latest trends anyway, but the fundamentals and concepts that you'll need to learn anything you need in industry

  • by tomhath (637240) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:25PM (#39221715)
    FTA:

    The data might not mean there is an outright shortage of S&E workers; it could indicate a combination of factors related to such things as the recession and offshoring.

    This suprises anyone?

    • Re:Offshoring (Score:4, Informative)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:33PM (#39221809)

      FTA:

      The data might not mean there is an outright shortage of S&E workers; it could indicate a combination of factors related to such things as the recession and offshoring.

      This suprises anyone?

      Given the high unemployment among S&E workers the conclusion is rather obvious: the qualified employees are there but the jobs aren't. Last year I interviewed three PhDs, one with 25 years experience running a research group with a dozen other PhDs under him, hoping to get a contractor position that required an associate's degree and paid accordingly. Also in the running for this one opening were ten people with less impressive but still solid backgrounds. Most had been in divisions of their previous companies that had been slashed in half or completely eliminated.

      To repeat: we have a glut of talented, motivated S&E workers looking for jobs. We need more R&D positions created. We don't need to find ways to solve the imaginary problem of a paucity of scientists.

    • by Phil06 (877749)
      I trained two people in India to do my job and then I got laid off. These two were great if you told them step by step exactly what to do but they were utterly incapable of figuring out what needed to be done. We have nothing to worry about with China and India. I got another engineering job before my severance ended because there is still demand here for people who can figure out what needs to be done.
  • the good and the bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eagle1361 (2557464) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:26PM (#39221735)
    As a young engineer myself, the good part of the story is that there will be more promotion possibilities because the older workers are retiring. The bad part is that the reason for the decline is the loss of job security and pay that barely pays the school loans and isn't matching inflation most times makes S&E a somewhat risky career path.
    • As a young engineer myself, the good part of the story is that there will be more promotion possibilities because the older workers are retiring.

      Aww, an optimist! How adorable!

      Seriously, though, the more likely circumstance is that, once those older engineers retire, their positions will be eliminated and their workload distributed among the remaining staff; that way, your employer can get more work out of you without having to cut into the boards bonus' by increase your pay grade.

    • by flink (18449)

      When they retire, their positions will be filled in India or South Korea.

  • Funny responses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrand (147739) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:28PM (#39221759)

    It's funny reading all the responses saying "It's obvious"... and then each response gives a different cause.

    If I knew then what I know now, I would probably not have gone into electrical engineering out of fear of offshoring. Thus far it hasn't completed killed engineering in the USA, but it has certainly made a big dent. But I don't know that the majority of young engineers know to even fear that...

            Marc

    • by dpilot (134227)

      > and then each response gives a different cause.

      And from what I can see, every one of those different causes is true - each applies to a different circumstance. Add them all up and you make a very grim picture, driven by short-sightedness at the very top (and highest paid) echelons.

    • by ThorGod (456163)

      Well, information is free, now. Further, labor and goods are readily replaceable or transportable. At a world stage, we've entered a world where countries' standards and costs of living are "integrated".

      One way to combat this would be to make it more difficult to cross borders with information and goods. Or, we could specialize in what is rare: identifying and utilizing *good knowledge*. See, the internet is a great thing. It will tell you anything and everything that you want to hear and don't want to hear

  • [sarcasm]Meanwhile, quants working on Wall Street to separate investors from their 401(k) funds have grown by 20%.[/sarcasm]

    Seriously, look at the number of engineering grads going to work on Wall Street vs. actual engineering companies. You might be surprised.
  • by dcollins (135727) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:40PM (#39221899) Homepage

    Isn't this inherently what happens with higher technology? As technology increases, you can get more done with fewer man-hours of labor (e.g., concentrating IT in cloud-like service centers and so forth). It's not like we're socialists who use this to give everyone a dividend in more pay, or less hours per week. Instead, we hire fewer people, and the business world considers that to be a good thing.

  • bizare... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pjr.cc (760528) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:43PM (#39221941)

    That is the most bizarre set of stats i've ever read....

    I cant understand why they would think the PERCENTAGE of the workforce for s&e would be on the increase? That just baffles me.

    Its like, checkout people, the number you have is dependent on the number of retail places around, which is dependant on the population, and hence its probably always going to be relatively fixed (as a percentage). At the moment, that might be on the decrease cause of automated human-less checkouts, but the driving force behind checkout people is the size of your population.

    I cant think of anything in the last decade that would propel more ppl (as a percentage) to enter either science or engineering. Any factor that might cause it is probably going to be offset by something else, ultimately if everyone started getting into science and engineering, who's gunna be a doctor, a lawyer, a politician, etc etc.

    How that even begins to relate to "less innovation" baffles me even more because 5% of the population is a considerable number of people and innovation itself tends to be sporadic and driven by individuals (and then implemented by large armies of kill robots). Ultimately even 5% is an ever increasing number of people (given population growth).

    I keep looking at the clock wondering if its april 1st, cause I really cant understand how they think "Ideally, the S&E workforce -- it numbers more than 7.6 million workers -- would be expanding as a percentage of the labor force. That would mean U.S. companies are increasing their use of S&E workers." is a remotely valid assumption. Again, given population growth, "That would mean U.S. companies are increasing their use of S&E workers" that is actually happening if your holding at 5%.

    Truly bizarre, its like someone misunderstood the different between what a percentage is and an absolute figure.

  • by trongey (21550) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:43PM (#39221945) Homepage

    It has nothing to do with the number of people entering these fields. It's the number of jobs that companies are removing from these fields. They cut staff and tell those remaining that they have to work another 20hrs/wk to cover the workload.

  • by Shag (3737) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:46PM (#39222001) Homepage

    My town is home to the base facilities for eight of the Mauna Kea Observatories [hawaii.edu], and we're looking at the Thirty Meter Telescope [tmt.org] in the near future as well. Needless to say, there are pretty much always job openings [maunakeaas...myjobs.org] for engineers, technicians, and PhDs. The catch? We're on an island, and some people get tired of that.

    So Science Education/Public Outreach (SE/PO) is a part of life here. Pushing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as good ways to make a better-than-average living is a part of life here. The scientists take over the local mall one day every spring. In late January, we take over the University for a "science day" in honor of Space Shuttle Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka, for kids in grades 3-8, and NASA sends an astronaut each year. And around late February or early March, there's Journey Through The Universe [gemini.edu].

    I'm actually about to head to a nearby school to spend an hour talking about science careers to a classroom of 7th-graders, so I'm getting a real kick out of this article showing up right now. The other 9 classes I'm visiting over next Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are a bit younger - grades 1-3. The idea, though, is that from Kindergarten on, kids here are meeting real live people who work in science at observatories or other "famous science places" every year and are being encouraged to stay in school, take classes about STEM, look at college majors in STEM, and become qualified for those good jobs, so that we can hire people who are from here and would love to stay here.

    Last year, I was told about one of the first success stories - a guy who was in 7th grade when they started visiting classes, and as a result of what he heard over the years, had picked a STEM major at the local university, and was now going to accompany a scientist to classes as a "community ambassador" sort of person.

  • There is no problem (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is an excuse to open the doors to more immigration to bring in cheap technical labour.

    There is no technical shortage. Just a shortage of highly-skilled qualified people willing to work for minimal wages.

    I saw recently an article in one of the local newspapers that indicated that 4,000 engineering graduates were being produced per year in Canada, 10,000 engineers per year were being brought in via immigration and only 1,000 new engineering jobs created per year, thus 13,000 engineers per year are unhapp

  • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:49PM (#39222063)

    Really? You think guys?

    Then why is it that despite me having tons of technical work experience, a CS degree, and an extensive background in Graphic Design, I can't even land a simple UI designer job that pays enough to repay my student loans and pay rent at the same time? In a big-10 college town with a pretty big tech industry?

    Perhaps it's because instead of R&D and progress, we're focused on blowing up brown people and stealing their oil? Perhaps the same reasons why NASA is woefully underfunded, and yet the DOD has a few billion to throw at missile research?

    FUCK this country. It used to be great, now it's just a slowly-fermenting pile of excrement.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:52PM (#39222111)

    The article says the reasons aren't certain, but my experience doing technical interviews for my employer seems to point to a possible cause -- perceived lack of stable career prospects.

    My background: I work for a medium to large IT company doing systems integration -- code for "troubleshooter, lab rat, make-stuff-work-in-the-face-of-no-documentation person." For a person with the right temperament and skills, it's a very fun job. However, whenever we go out looking for new team members, we get back lots of less-than-qualified people. I'm not talking about qualities like "experts in 4 different operating platforms, genius-level coding skills, etc." -- I'm talking more along the lines of "communicates well, writes clear documentation, and has logical thinking skills." Everything else is trainable in my mind, but if you don't have the engineer/tinkerer/figure-it-out-without-help mindset, you can't do this job well. And oh yes, the pay is decent, and the job is stable if you're good at it and contributing excellent work.

    The only problem is that we're in the NYC area, and so is the finance industry. Anecdotal evidence from my colleagues in finance states that any new college grad who is remotely good at science, math and engineering is going into finance or business. Unfortunately for us, that's probably a rational choice given the current employment climate. When you turn 21 or so and are faced with constant talk of outsourcing/offshoring, companies living with a skeleton crew because they don't want to hire and add to costs on one side, and see in finance/business an easy and very lucrative job market, what would you pick? Go back a couple of years before that...and compare the STEM students working in the lab/studying all the time with the business/psychology/communications majors partying 24/7 and coming out ahead of the game in terms of compensation and ease of work. Then, you really start to see what's wrong.

    One other problem is the outsourcing/offshoring of routine IT work. Some of the jobs that us IT veterans got our start in are way less accessible than before. I started in tech support/help desk, and it was the best training for dealing with angry users and calmly troubleshooting a problem without changing 100 things. Now, those help desk jobs are overseas or at one of three or four huge IT service providers. So, strike two -- uncertain future employment/compensation prospects, lack of entry-level positions to learn the business...what else is stacked against us?

    Personally, I still see a need for *good, competent* engineering talent. Even though most companies and products now are just marketing, flash and repackaging of old technology, someone has to come up with the next neat thing. (Or in my case, someone has to make the 45 neat new things that all got mashed into our software/systems work together.) The problem is that business hs to either start signaling that they really do want and pay for talent, or we won't have replacements for all the people who are slated to retire soon.

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:59PM (#39222217)
    ...of the fall of Rome. You better watch out though because the dying body of this beast is still going to kick and flail for another 20-50 years. You don't want to be in the way.
  • First it was manufacturing, next IT, next Software Development, now science and engineering. The government wonders why the economy is in the shitter. It's called globalization. Outsourcing sucks. Corporations are cutting the domestic workforce, and they wonder why their products are not selling. We gotta take industry back and reward US companies that design, and build their products here. Screw this globalization shit.
  • Nobody wants to go into these jobs because they require you to be able to think. And of course since the GOAL of Public Education for the last 20 years has been to prevent the student from thinking of course we are running low on young thinkers.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Friday March 02, 2012 @02:08PM (#39222325) Journal

    One issue is the large "winnowing out" of STEM majors in college [cnn.com]:

    Among students who majored in liberal arts, business or other fields, 73% of white students and about 63% of black and Latino students finished their degrees in five years.

    Forty-one percent of American students who start off majoring in science, math, engineering or technology fields graduate from those programs within six years.

    The question is whether this "winnowing" is due to lack of preparation of the students before college, or simply a non-educational strategy of signaling that the students who "survive" are of high quality, in which case the institution should consider not calling itself a "higher learning" institution but a "better signaling" institution.

    Students in general are choosing non-STEM majors [ed.gov]. Top US graduating majors are 1) Business 2) Social sciences and history 3) Health professions and related clinical sciences 4) Education 5) Psychology 6) Visual and performing arts.

    I feel pretty bad for anyone who took out loans for majors #2 or #6 and think they can pay them back...#5 will have a rough time as well. Education doesn't pay well on day 1, but if you can stick it out for 10 years and sneak a graduate degree you can do OK, depending on your union contract.

    One other issue is that while more women than men are now attending college (57% women/43% men), women are even more likely to choose non-STEM majors [newyorkfed.org]. In Business, the female/male ratio is nearly 50/50, but in the #2 top major group of Social Sciences, it is 64/36 in favor of women. In #3 Health, it is 76/24. In #4 Education, it is 77/23.

    In CS the female/male ratio is 30/70, in Engineering it is 17/83.

    Physical sciences are closer to even (47/53) while Math is slightly more female (58/48).

  • Its all part of the attitude in the U.S. towards S&E, leading to a transition from a design-and-manufacturing powerhouse to a fully dumbed-down service-oriented economy. Would you like fries with that?
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Friday March 02, 2012 @02:15PM (#39222407)

    "Oh golly, Yes!" They must be thinking. "Let me work for an engineering degree so I can compete with someone making $8/hr. in the Philippines and be laid off by the time I'm 50 because I'm "too expensive" and my skills are "obsolete" according to a bean counter and an upper management ignoramus who knows nothing about my industry or what I do."

    Sure! Why, I bet the kids are just lining up for that "opportunity." That bed has been made by American corporations. Unfortunately, we must all lie in it.

    The USA and its wealth are being harvested by an international elite who don't give a rat's ass about the USA or any other nation state. Nobody with power/money has any interest in having a strong, stable middle class in the USA. The best skill set for a young person with a passion for engineering is the ability to speak Chinese or Hindi and the skill set to acquire permanent working status in China or India, where at least the cost of living is more in line with salaries.

    • by Moof123 (1292134)

      "be laid off by the time I'm 50 because I'm "too expensive""

      Try laid off at 25.

      I'm now at my 5th engineering job at 34.

      Job 1 paid poorly so I bailed.
      Job 2 was a nightmare of constant stressful layoffs and exploding work levels so I volunteered for a layoff to end the pain on the 5th round of layoffs (that site eventually hit 85% headcount reduction).
      Job 3 was a known lame firm, but times were tough. Had an engineering manager standup after a layoff and say "We are ALL temporary employees." I polished my r

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Friday March 02, 2012 @02:19PM (#39222461) Homepage Journal

    We've really created a hostile environment for anyone wanting to study science as a kid.

    Can't give your kid a chemistry set, those don't exist. Can't buy chemicals, you might be making a bomb.

    For several years (after 9/11) you couldn't buy a model rocket engine, 'cause of course you could use it for terrorism somehow.

    Until recently you couldn't build a UAV. Well, you could build it, but flying it was illegal.

    Students are arrested if they bring electronics projects to school (Can't find the link, remember reading about this).

    Having canning jars and a bag of fertilizer in your car can get you arrested for having bomb-making materials.

    Taking apart a smoke detector (and using it to demonstrate alpha radiation) is a "grievous offense" (actual NRC term) and can get you raided and have *all* your lab equipment taken away.

    Your hackerspace will be shut down [nhpr.org] instead of "given 30 days for compliance" as would be the case for a company.

    Really... what's left? Mathematics? I'm surprised that we have *any* young people interested in science ATM. We make it nigh impossible and come down hard on them when they do.

    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday March 02, 2012 @04:12PM (#39224185)

      Can't give your kid a chemistry set, those don't exist. Can't buy chemicals, you might be making a bomb.

      There are plenty of chemistry sets, and I can buy all the chemicals I'd be willing to give to a child.

      For several years (after 9/11) you couldn't buy a model rocket engine, 'cause of course you could use it for terrorism somehow.

      Citation? I was involved in a project in 2002 that involved model rockets. Had no problem buying the required materials

      Until recently you couldn't build a UAV. Well, you could build it, but flying it was illegal.

      I've been involved in UAV research for a few years. Another baseless claim. You need the proper permits depending on how and where you want to fly, but other than that I've flown quadrocopters in my back yard and at the park.

      Students are arrested if they bring electronics projects to school (Can't find the link, remember reading about this).

      Of course you can't, because it was probably a one off isolated incident that was most likely anecdotal. Science and engeering fairs like ISEF are stronger than ever, and many projects involve electronics.

      Having canning jars and a bag of fertilizer in your car can get you arrested for having bomb-making materials.

      Citation? This certainly doesn't happen every day. Don't see how this supports the position that we've created a hostile environment for children anyway.

      Taking apart a smoke detector (and using it to demonstrate alpha radiation) is a "grievous offense" (actual NRC term) and can get you raided and have *all* your lab equipment taken away.

      Citation?

      Your hackerspace will be shut down [nhpr.org] instead of "given 30 days for compliance" as would be the case for a company.

      MakeIt Labs was operating without a certificate to occupy, which they couldn't obtain because they didn't have exit signs, emergency lighting, metal tops for tables with power tools, and the ventilation was insufficient. Sounds like a death trap that needed to get shut down immediately.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:02PM (#39225813)

    Since 90% aren't smart enough to be scientists or engineers and we also need smart people for a few other things, I don't see this as likely to change.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

Working...