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Businesses United States Science Technology

The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage 392 392

walterbyrd (182728) writes in with this story that calls into question the conventional wisdom that there is a shortage of science and engineering workforce in the U.S. "Such claims are now well established as conventional wisdom. There is almost no debate in the mainstream. They echo from corporate CEO to corporate CEO, from lobbyist to lobbyist, from editorial writer to editorial writer. But what if what everyone knows is wrong? What if this conventional wisdom is just the same claims ricocheting in an echo chamber? The truth is that there is little credible evidence of the claimed widespread shortages in the U.S. science and engineering workforce."
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The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage

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  • by MacTO (1161105) on Friday March 21, 2014 @05:50AM (#46541593)

    There is a lot more to this article than the mythical labor shortage. There is a discussion of the complexity of the issue. That includes things like labor market cycles, shortages in some specializations with surpluses in many, the cost of misinformation to graduates, and a fair bit more.

    To the summary skimmers, this article is probably worth your time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:23AM (#46542153)

    Perhaps he's a "craftsman", but this whole issue is a ten-beer discussion.

    I'm so tempted to troll the world with "Software Craftsman" on my next batch business cards! I never got my degree, so I'm not an "engineer", but I'm past the "programmer" level. I'm a developer, but the word "developer" doesn't convey much meaning to the world. "Craftsman" on the other hand... at least they'll ask what the hell that means :) I'm not a cubicle drone, so that works out nicely.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:43AM (#46542227) Journal

    Unless you are doing hard CS and actually cooking up unique algorithms I have never observed what you are saying to be the case. Frankly as far as most software goes if its designed well it mostly codes itself.

    If the coupling and cohesion is correct, the components are mostly simple enough there are only so many ways you could code them. Modern IDEs solve most of the style and discipline problems of yesteryear.

    I have seen plenty of shit code, but its mostly shitty because its spaghetti, there is lots 'coding around the problem' with special cases and branches all over the place, or there is all kinds of bad assumptions. All of those are really design problems that are just presenting as code problems.

  • Code's itself? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:58AM (#46542295)

    Sure, well-designed stuff is easy to code - if you are a solid programmer.

    It's amazing how many people carry the qualifications of a programmer, but can't actually code their way out of a paper bag. Abstraction, interfaces, any sort of advanced design pattern, and their eyes glaze over. By the time you break it down enough for them (write a method that takes a, b, and c - do d, e, f and return g), you'd have been faster writing the code yourself.

    Of course, you also get crappy design, but that's a whole 'nother problem, usually coming from a solid programmer who just isn't able to think "big" enough. I disagree with the earlier poster who says you can have good software architects who are lousy programmers - at least, I've never seen an example of that.

  • Re:Links (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ronin Developer (67677) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:15AM (#46542417)

    Correct. While some may not appreciate this, it's the compilation and interpretation of the links that provides value.

    I learned this, first hand, when I had opportunities to read published "classified" documents as part of my military duties. My first thought was, like, "No Shit Shirlock...this is common knowledge." The information sources that were cited in the paper were all public domain or common, open sources, and readily available and even were the subject of discussions I had made with my peers. However, it was the analysis of the information, the common threads, and the meaning the analyst derived from that information that made it a classified document.

    The point I took away from this article is not that there is not a shortage of capable works. Instead, it's a shortage of capable workers willing to work at the salaries and rates being offered. The VISA opportunities, as stated in the article, have enabled positions to be filled with qualified individuals at a substantially lower cost. In many cases, the job positions are created with the specific goal of filling with someone offshore. While this works out well for corporations, Sadly, this puts American workers at a serious disadvantage since they still have to live in this environment.

    I have no qualms with hiring someone from overseas who has a passion for the work and willing to work for a little less. I do have issues hiring someone just because they can do it cheaper. My experience is the latter costs more in the end while the former can be a great bargain. Nonetheless, I still would prefer to see those jobs go to Americans first, those with passion second, and finally qualified but lower-cost last.

  • by jma05 (897351) on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:14AM (#46542939)

    > If I had a dollar for every professor whom I have met who shows up on campus at 9 a.m., teaches one lecture, takes an hour for lunch and leaves campus at 3 p.m. thinking that he has put in a full day of work and who actually believes that the smartest and most capable people work at universities, ...

    I have a STEM PhD. I do not know a *single* professor who did that. All of them worked longer than 9 - 5. I have not even heard of a faculty member who puts in less than 40 hrs per week, not the tenured ones and certainly not the ones on the tenure track.

  • Re:Links (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suutar (1860506) on Friday March 21, 2014 @03:26PM (#46545999)
    Perhaps they need a contract stating "Training will cost you $x. We will loan you this amount and extract loan payments from your paycheck for 5 years. If you quit before the loan is paid, you owe us the balance immediately. If we fire you or lay you off, the loan is cancelled. Once the loan is paid off, your takehome pay will go up by the amount of the loan payment."

Klein bottle for rent -- inquire within.