Study: Tech Worker Shortage a Myth


By finehoe   Follow   Thu, 25 Apr 2013, 8:00am   7,617 views   315 comments
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If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on in Washington, it’s that the country has a woeful shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering and math — what’s referred to as STEM.

President Obama has said that improving STEM education is one of his top priorities. Chief executives regularly come through Washington complaining that they can’t find qualified American workers for openings at their firms that require a science background. And armed with this argument in the debate over immigration policy, lobbyists are pushing hard for more temporary work visas, known as H-1Bs, which they say are needed to make up for the lack of Americans with STEM skills.

But not everyone agrees. A study released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute reinforces what a number of researchers have come to believe: that the STEM worker shortage is a myth.

The EPI study found that the United States has “more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations.” Basic dynamics of supply and demand would dictate that if there were a domestic labor shortage, wages should have risen. Instead, researchers found, they’ve been flat, with many Americans holding STEM degrees unable to enter the field and a sharply higher share of foreign workers taking jobs in the information technology industry. (IT jobs make up 59 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the study.)

The answer to whether there is a shortage of such workers has important ramifications for the immigration bill. If it exists, then there’s an urgency that justifies allowing companies to bring more foreign workers into the country, usually on a short-term H-1B visa. But those who oppose such a policy argue that companies want more of these visas mainly because H-1B workers are paid an estimated 20 percent less than their American counterparts. Why allow these companies to hire more foreign workers for less, the critics argue, when there are plenty of Americans who are ready to work?

The EPI study said that while the overall number of U.S. students who earn STEM degrees is small — a fact that many lawmakers and the news media have seized on — it’s more important to focus on what happens to these students after they graduate. According to the study, they have a surprisingly hard time finding work. Only half of the students graduating from college with a STEM degree are hired into a STEM job, the study said.

“Even in engineering,” the authors said, “U.S. colleges have historically produced about 50 percent more graduates than are hired into engineering jobs each year.”

The picture is not that bright for computer science students, either. “For computer science graduates employed one year after graduation . . . about half of those who took a job outside of IT say they did so because the career prospects were better elsewhere, and roughly a third because they couldn’t find a job in IT,” the study said.

While liberal arts graduates might be used to having to look for jobs with only tenuous connections to their majors, the researchers said this shouldn’t be the case for graduates with degrees attached to specific skills such as engineering.

The tech industry has said that it needs more H-1B visas in order to hire the “best and the brightest,” regardless of their citizenship. Yet the IT industry seems to have a surprisingly low bar for education. The study found that among IT workers, 36 percent do not have a four-year college degree. Among the 64 percent who do have diplomas, only 38 percent have a computer science or math degree.

The bipartisan immigration plan introduced last week by the so-called Gang of Eight senators would raise the number of H-1B visas, though it would limit the ability of outsourcing firms to have access to them. Tech companies such as Facebook and Microsoft have fought hard to distinguish themselves from these outsourcing companies, arguing that unlike firms such as Wipro, they’re looking for the best people, not just ones who will work for less.

But some worry that the more H-1Bs allowed into the system, the more domestic workers get crowded out, resulting in what no one appears to want: fewer American students seeing much promise in entering STEM fields.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/study-there-may-not-be-a-shortage-of-american-stem-graduates-after-all/2013/04/24/66099962-acea-11e2-a8b9-2a63d75b5459_story.html

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  1. gsr


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    276   1:57pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike   Protected  

    Rin says

    I'm hoping that ppl can see what I'm hinting at. In finance, it's about measured gambling

    No, I fully agree with you about the problem you mentioned. I don't think many disagrees with that. They get bailed out as well. I simply do not agree with the solution that you think would fix the problem.

    I am also fairly optimistic that in ten years from now, it would change. There is a big bubble in finance overall. And it is simply not sustainable without artificial stimulus, as it piggybacks on the productivity of other sectors.

  2. gsr


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    277   2:11pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike   Protected  

    Dan8267 says

    9. Dan8267 says

    A person growing up in the third world, not even having electricity most of his life, isn't going to blossom into a good software developer in four years. To grow software developers, you need to raise them on computers, access to lots of educational material, time to study (which means not spending time working on a farm, factory, etc.).

    Often referred to as the 10,000 hour rule, although 20,000 hours seems more accurate.

    First, you have no idea how much access people have to resources outside the country. Computer science is an abstract science, like Mathematics. It has nothing to do big machines.

    Also, using your logic, no one could ever succeed from a poorer upbringing.

    And the rule you cite is mostly applicable for skills that need constant practice. A smarter person can pick up things pretty quickly. Even in the case of music, the rule has been debunked.

  3. New Renter


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    278   5:34pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    gsr says

    It really depends on the location. I understand it would be tough in the west coast. With the RA, my living standard was pretty comfortable for one person. I had a colleague from Mexico who was married with two kids. He was doing ok as well. This is a real story.

    My stipend was $15,6k gross income in San Diego, not exactly a low cost of living area. I had to earn that with 13.3 hrs/wk of teaching which worked out to at least double that with the non-contact hours work (grading, class prep and whatnot) involved. The only way to make ends meet was to:

    1) Have a spouse/significant other with a "real" job
    2) Family support
    3) Become a "road warrior" teaching part time at various community colleges.

    (Sorry Dan, assless chaps were not an accepted part of the dress code)

    For a while the idea of a new "Industrial Ph.D." program was considered. The idea was for candidates to do their research in an industrial setting. I loved the idea but it never went anywhere. I'm not surprised. The existence of such a program is a direct threat to a university's cheap labor pool.

    It took a fight but I eventually got out. When I did I found I had NO support from my university. NONE. When I spoke with my dean about it he rather coldly told me it was the responsibility of one's advisor to provide such support. Mine didn't. It wasn't just myself, none of my colleagues were provided any support either unless for a post-doc and even that was hard to get. Industry recruiters were conspicuously absent.

    Still with a Ph.D. in a STEM field one would think an industry job would be easy to find. WRONG! At a meeting of the American Chemical Society I found at that time most new graduates could expect to spend 6 months or more to land their first job. This was when the myth of the STEM shortage was still going strong.

    After relocating to the SFBA It took me a YEAR AND A HALF to land my first industry job. Remember this is one of the tech powerhouse hubs. My first job was at a pay rate equivalent to that of a senior R.A.

    Remember the whole point of this thread is to debate whether there is such a dire shortage of STEM workers that a larger numbers of graduates holding advanced degrees in STEM fields should be permitted.

    gsr says

    I guess an individual who goes through hardships at some point in his/her life understands better that a job is not an entitlement. And individual who does not struggle ever in life does not understand that. It is as true as the law of gravity. You or I or the government can't change that.

    I hope now you can understand now why I say the “STEM shortage” is complete and utter bunk, at least as far as the “S” is concerned.

  4. New Renter


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    279   6:01pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Rin says

    New Renter says

    Yes, I am. Got anything in the South Bay?

    New Renter, I know I'm now a broken record [a metaphor for the last of the 20th century types], but if you still have the gumption, please take the Patent Bar/Agent exam, and try to get out of direct S&E work before it's too late.

    So while you'll most likely get through the current job search, etc, at some point in time, father time will catch 'em with you and then, you'll be stuck doing documentation, until that group also gets sent abroad.

    Patent agent work cannot be offshored. It's got a legal tether stateside and only US citizens, neither H1-Bs or Green Card holders, can sit for the test. And you don't have to attend law school, if you're not working litigation or giving legal counsel. Typically, even USPTO workers do the law school thing, part-time, to enhance their resumes.

    Thank you for the advice, I'm looking into it :)

  5. Rin


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    280   6:08pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    It took a fight but I eventually got out. When I did I found I had NO support from my university. NONE. When I spoke with my dean about it he rather coldly told me it was the responsibility of one's advisor to provide such support. Mine didn't. It wasn't just myself, none of my colleagues were provided any support either unless for a post-doc and even that was hard to get. Industry recruiters were conspicuously absent.

    Still with a Ph.D. in a STEM field one would think an industry job would be easy to find. WRONG! At a meeting of the American Chemical Society I found at that time most new graduates could expect to spend 6 months or more to land their first job. This was when the myth of the STEM shortage was still going strong.

    After relocating to the SFBA It took me a YEAR AND A HALF to land my first industry job. Remember this is one of the tech powerhouse hubs. My first job was at a pay rate equivalent to that of a senior R.A.

    Your story is the harsh reality about S&E careers out there. In reality, there are PhDs, who had been recruited by MA based Genzyme, Vertex, Biogen, etc, however, most of them were on an inside track. Yes, those advisors & alumni in industry basically decide who's in and who's not. Thus, they can get up to 300 resumes from highly qualified individuals, however, they're only really reviewing perhaps up to a dozen because for them, the lab, the advisor, and the specialty are a perfect matchup. I'd been on interview commitees in biopharma and was appalled at the overt lack of decorum and professionality of the ppl in command. It's basically a free for all, mostly mud slinging, where the PI gets his way in the end, "He's one of Bob's guys, that's a good fit" In this case, Bob was the PI's advisor's pal at Yale.

  6. New Renter


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    281   6:44pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Rin says

    Your story is the harsh reality about S&E careers out there. In reality, there are PhDs, who had been recruited by MA based Genzyme, Vertex, Biogen, etc, however, most of them were on an inside track. Yes, those advisors & alumni in industry basically decide who's in and who's not. Thus, they can get up to 300 resumes from highly qualified individuals, however, they're only really reviewing perhaps up to a dozen because for them, the lab, the advisor, and the specialty are a perfect matchup. I'd been on interview commitees in biopharma and was appalled at the overt lack of decorum and professionality of the ppl in command. It's basically a free for all, mostly mud slinging, where the PI gets his way in the end, "He's one of Bob's guys, that's a good fit" In this case, Bob was the PI's advisor's pal at Yale.

    I think part of the problem is the ones who cry "shortage" have no idea what a REAL shortage IS.

    I've posted this before but I'll do it again. A few years ago "This American Life" did a story called the "The Giant Pool of Money" .

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/355/transcript

    One of the interviewees was telling how - straight out of college - he was hired into an area sales manager job at an outfit called WMC Mortgage in upstate New York. His company sold home mortgages. At his height he was making between $75-100k A MONTH!

    "Glen had five cars, a $1.5 million vacation house in Connecticut, and a penthouse that he rented in Manhattan. "

    When a company is willing to hire a guy with no experience into a position with that kind of earning potential - now THAT is a shortage!

    Rin says

    Your story is the harsh reality about S&E careers out there. In reality, there are PhDs, who had been recruited by MA based Genzyme, Vertex, Biogen, etc, however, most of them were on an inside track. Yes, those advisors & alumni in industry basically decide who's in and who's not. Thus, they can get up to 300 resumes from highly qualified individuals, however, they're only really reviewing perhaps up to a dozen because for them, the lab, the advisor, and the specialty are a perfect matchup. I'd been on interview commitees in biopharma and was appalled at the overt lack of decorum and professionality of the ppl in command. It's basically a free for all, mostly mud slinging, where the PI gets his way in the end, "He's one of Bob's guys, that's a good fit" In this case, Bob was the PI's advisor's pal at Yale.

    This would not be able to happen if a real shortage existed. New graduates would not be facing many months or even years of unemployment if a real shortage existed.

  7. gsr


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    282   7:59pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike   Protected  

    New Renter says

    I hope now you can understand now why I say the “STEM shortage” is complete and utter bunk, at least as far as the “S” is concerned.

    Now we agree in something. We have been arguing between apples and oranges. Jobs in science, particularly in pure science are scarce and are not well paid. But to be honest, that's the trend pretty much anywhere in the world I think. Except in specific areas of Biology and Organic chemistry, the demand of scientists is weak overall.

    I know of a colleague who was doing PhD in physics. But he decided to drop out and now he has a job as a QA engineer. Another person was a Princeton physics PhD, U.C. Berkeley postdoc, and now he is a quant in Wells Fargo.

  8. Rin


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    283   8:02pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    Thus, they can get up to 300 resumes from highly qualified individuals, however, they're only really reviewing perhaps up to a dozen because for them, the lab, the advisor, and the specialty are a perfect matchup. I'd been on interview commitees in biopharma and was appalled at the overt lack of decorum and professionality of the ppl in command. It's basically a free for all, mostly mud slinging, where the PI gets his way in the end, "He's one of Bob's guys, that's a good fit" In this case, Bob was the PI's advisor's pal at Yale.

    This would not be able to happen if a real shortage existed. New graduates would not be facing many months or even years of unemployment if a real shortage existed.

    Yes and to add to the damage... if a new grad does get a job, what happens 5-7 years later, when that cell line [or whatever] becomes passe? Is he enough of an insider to find a job at a peer company? You see, being pigeonholed is very easy in R&D. And once that happens, forget about it, you'll be stuck only being interviewed for your prior R&D functions. One is actually better off programming statistics [ SAS ], Oracle PL/SQL, or some other generic skill set, which is portable across industries and can even transverse dept labels, than being pure R&D in biopharma.

    Believe me, the first time in my professional life that I've felt truly relaxed was starting this year, when I'd closed on that P/L distribution, totaling an income of $700K for 2012. I honest the goodness no longer feared the future. Before, in biopharma, I was studying every bit of IT/programming widget I could find, in-house, because I knew that I had to escape from the place. Ppl say that money doesn't bring happiness, I say bullsh*t!

  9. New Renter


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    284   8:21pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    gsr says

    New Renter says

    I hope now you can understand now why I say the “STEM shortage” is complete and utter bunk, at least as far as the “S” is concerned.

    Now we agree in something. We have been arguing between apples and oranges. Jobs in science, particularly in pure science are scarce and are not well paid. But to be honest, that's the trend pretty much anywhere in the world I think. Except in specific areas of Biology and Organic chemistry, the demand of scientists is weak overall.

    I know of a colleague who was doing PhD in physics. But he decided to drop out and now he has a job as a QA engineer. Another person was a Princeton physics PhD, U.C. Berkeley postdoc, and now he is a quant in Wells Fargo.

    I'm glad you agree. Unfortunately the shortage is broad brushed to include scientists as well as other grossly saturated fields of engineering and tech. Probably math as well but others more qualified than I will have to weigh in on whether a shortage exists there.

    Roberto , any thoughts?

    If the powers that be REALLY wanted to make a valid case they'd drop the catchy STEM moniker and fine tune their arguments to ONLY include those few areas where the signs of a true shortage are present. Extra points to confess no shortage exists in the others. However, given their history I'd still be hella skeptical of anything they say. At this point the powers that be have all the credibility of puppy mill owners proclaiming a critical shortage of dogs.

  10. New Renter


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    285   8:26pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Rin says

    Ppl say that money doesn't bring happiness, I say bullsh*t!

    I would say it either brings happiness or it just prevents a lot of unpleasantness. Either way better to have it than not.

  11. Rin


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    286   8:31pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    Rin says

    Ppl say that money doesn't bring happiness, I say bullsh*t!

    I would say it either brings happiness or it just prevents a lot of unpleasantness. Either way better to have it than not.

    Personally, I believe it brings happiness.

    Nothing would give me more joy than in being able to perform research and conduct services, without thinking about the paycheck.

    When I was in IT, all I thought about was chargeable hours and such. And how much a client was willing to sign off on. I can't say that I was entirely happy with that.

  12. thomaswong.1986


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    287   8:44pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    After relocating to the SFBA It took me a YEAR AND A HALF to land my first industry job. Remember this is one of the tech powerhouse hubs. My first job was at a pay rate equivalent to that of a senior R.A.

    New Renter says

    I hope now you can understand now why I say the “STEM shortage” is complete and utter bunk, at least as far as the “S” is concerned.

    You could say easily SFBA saw a shortage back in the 80s as we grew and created many companies which provided untold products. But the fact is we didnt. We found what people we could get, trained them and moved forward. But back then we had more seasoned people who were more mature, provides leadership, and mentored their staff. It didnt matter if it was STEM or not in Tech companies. It also didnt matte which school you came from or how much diversity you may or may not have had.

    But today, what do you have ... SHORTAGE... because unlike the 80s, THEY MUST come from some top university, with top grades, and fit some goofy sense of Culture and Diversity needs. And lastly you have managers who are too young, too immature, horrible people skills and incapable of being mentors to their teams.

    If we were to apply Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer edict that new hires must come from Top Schools that would have certainly disqualified the vast majority of the 70s 80s and 90s work force as it would disqualify many today. But this is the kind of thinking you hear about from these Google, Yahoo, Facebook idiots who you really cannot even consider being tech companies. And the media pronounces these edicts as the new law of the land to be applied to all real tech companies, which makes the problem even worst.

    That is the Shortage you hear about today unlike the the more sensible hiring practice we had for decades past in SFBA Tech land . Sad but true! And Yes, I agree there really is no shortage of able people exist. Next time.. ask "what do you mean by shortage".

    Its hard to even imagine the damage these people are creating because they are so damned immature.

  13. mell


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    288   8:53pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Agreed.

  14. Dan8267


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    gsr says

    First, you have no idea how much access people have to resources outside the country. Computer science is an abstract science, like Mathematics. It has nothing to do big machines.

    Attempting to become a software developer without ever using a computer is an exercise in futility. Yes, hands-on experience matters. To say otherwise is to speak from ignorance.

    gsr says

    Also, using your logic, no one could ever succeed from a poorer upbringing.

    A poor person with a fiddle diligently practicing for 10,000 hours could become a master of the fiddle. A poor person with no access to a fiddle or anything like it, can not become a master.

    gsr says

    And the rule you cite is mostly applicable for skills that need constant practice. A smarter person can pick up things pretty quickly. Even in the case of music, the rule has been debunked.

    The 10,000 hour rule refers to the development of talent, not semi-skill labor, and it applies to everyone from Olympic performers to theoretical physicists. No matter how talented a person is, that talent must be developed by experience. And for certain fields, that experience must come in childhood when the mind is malleable to learning things that the vast majority of human beings will never be capable of understanding.

    Well, let's see, you attempted to address one out of sixteen counter-arguments and failed at that. Try again, and also address the other fifteen counter-arguments.

  15. New Renter


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    290   9:06pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    gsr says

    New Renter says

    I hope now you can understand now why I say the “STEM shortage” is complete and utter bunk, at least as far as the “S” is concerned.

    Now we agree in something. We have been arguing between apples and oranges. Jobs in science, particularly in pure science are scarce and are not well paid. But to be honest, that's the trend pretty much anywhere in the world I think. Except in specific areas of Biology and Organic chemistry, the demand of scientists is weak overall.

    thomaswong.1986 says

    That is the Shortage you hear about today unlike the the more sensible hiring practice we had for decades past in SFBA Tech land . Sad but true! And Yes, I agree there really is no shortage of able people exist. Next time.. ask "what do you mean by shortage".

    mell says

    Agreed.

    Holy @^% are we actually reaching a consensus here?

  16. Rin


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    291   9:11pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    Holy @^% are we actually reaching a consensus here?

    I think so.

    I'm mad at myself because one, I'm a sell out for going into finance/trading but at the same time, I reserve a *Rage Against the Machine* attitude towards STEM careers, for the lies that they'd presented.

    And to some extent, all our opinions are now converging on these issues, but from different angles of experience.

  17. New Renter


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    292   9:52pm Sun 5 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Rin says

    I'm mad at myself because one, I'm a sell out for going into finance/trading but at the same time, I reserve a *Rage Against the Machine* attitude towards STEM careers, for the lies that they'd presented.

    I wish I had the fortitude to follow your example. I think it takes a rare combination of opportunity, will and mentor ship to make a jump like that work.

    At least I do my best to prevent others from falling for the lies. This is what makes me such a hit at science fairs.

  18. thomaswong.1986


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    293   6:27pm Mon 6 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    Holy @^% are we actually reaching a consensus here?

    Depends on what you define as shortage or qualified worker ?

    there were tons and tons of unqualified workers in the BA who found jobs/careers
    working in tech for decades, some actually became CEOs and founders of their
    own companies.

    But we have inexperienced leaders placed in power like Google Head Melissa Mayer to say who is qualified... she is just a child ! How can you put a child to make these decisions, and then everyone else follows them blindly as some "Google NEW Theory of Management" a template for all else to follow ?

    not a question of shortage.. but utter stupidity !

  19. New Renter


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    294   7:00pm Mon 6 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    thomaswong.1986 says

    Depends on what you define as shortage or qualified worker ?

    Well now I think you've hit the nail on the head.

    Qualified can mean anything from a full Ivy league education in Nobel laureate labs PLUS a Rhodes scholarship, PLUS several lucrative patents just to get the interview for an entry level science job

    to

    Someone with only a bachelors and no experience to be qualified for an eye-watering-it's-so crazy-lucrative area sales manager position.

    If you read my previous posts I think I have made my opinion of what a REAL shortage should look like quite clear. What we have no is NOT by any means a shortage at least as far as science is concerned.

  20. gsr


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    295   7:05pm Mon 6 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike   Protected  

    Dan8267 says

    The 10,000 hour rule refers to the development of talent, not semi-skill labor, and it applies to everyone from Olympic performers to theoretical physicists. No matter how talented a person is, that talent must be developed by experience. And for certain fields, that experience must come in childhood when the mind is malleable to learning things that the vast majority of human beings will never be capable of understanding.

    You are still wrong. You have no effing idea how tough and strong curricula are, particularly in basic science and Maths across school systems in Asia.
    For starters, see latest rankings in Maths Olympiads and see how far Asia has progressed. Again, this is not 1950 any more.
    Their analytical and quantitative skills are already quite high.
    GRE scores reveal that as well.

    So far as access to computer is concerned. It has improved drastically. Even without that, there are tons of successful engineers and entrepreneurs, who were originally from relatively poorer countries.

    We have a person who is originally from Nigeria, Africa. But he has a PhD from Cambridge, and he is quite smart. I am sure it is unimaginable for you, given that his background is from a poor country.

    A lot of people from poorer background who did not use computers until at the undergrad level, do much better in picking up skills quickly due to both intelligence and hard-work. You are completely wrong in this.

    Over here, we take care of gifted and talented students very well. But the average public school system is mediocre. That "no child left behind" policy has further corroded the system.

    Trust me, we need to change drastically the school system if we want stay competitive in the world. Again, this is 21st century.
    Or, you can relax and whine about "extinction of species".

    We are great at the college levels, and beyond. That's why people from all over the world come here to study. And most of them do quite well, in case you are not aware.

  21. thomaswong.1986


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    296   7:24pm Mon 6 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    gsr says

    So far as access to computer is concerned. It has improved drastically. Even without that, there are tons of successful engineers and entrepreneurs, who were originally from relatively poorer countries.

    We have a person who is originally from Nigeria, Africa. But he has a PhD from Cambridge, and he is quite smart. I am sure it is unimaginable for you, given that his background is from a poor country.

    It was something to see how the kids who came from to the backward nation like Vietnam back in the mid 70s excelled in advanced Math and Science. After getting
    top grades and 4 yr US university degree went into SV tech companies and other did equally well.

  22. Rin


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    297   7:27pm Mon 6 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Folks, this thread is a first for Patrick.net.

    For a while, it looked like a lot of bickering and such, however, an authentic discussion is forming and various points of consensus are being reached.

  23. david1


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    gsr says

    GRE scores reveal that as well.

    I could be wrong about this - but I am someone who spent the better part of two years in classes with only Asian classmates. In fact, I was the first American kid to graduate from my uni with a math degree in three years.

    Anyway - my observation at the time was simply one of selection bias. Point is, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Korea are not sending their average students to study in the US. I think at the time the aggregate population of those countries (of which were home to at least one of my classmates) were around 40% of the world population, roughly 10 times as many people as in the US.

    Anyway, assuming a normal distribution for ability in those countries similarly to the US, 2% of the brightest minds in those countries would be the same number of people as one-fifth of the US population. Or roughly equivalent to everyone in California and Texas.

    They aren't sending THAT many students to study in the US, so it is more likely they are sending the top one tenth of 1% or better. Even at that level we are talking about a population somewhere between Nevada and New Mexico.

    Unless someone shows me a study indicating otherwise - I am most certain that high average GRE, GMAT, etc scores for Asian students is a factor of selection bias more than anything else.

  24. Bellingham Bill


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    299   8:10pm Mon 6 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    not sure this is apropos, or what it really measures:

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/USINFO

    (I think it includes entertainment industry jobs too)

    but that there would be the exact same number of "info" jobs in 2013 as when I got my CS degree lo these many years ago is shocking to me.

  25. thomaswong.1986


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    300   9:53pm Mon 6 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Bellingham Bill says

    (I think it includes entertainment industry jobs too)

    entertainment like google, facebook, linkedin, ebay, amazon or some of the numerous advertising earning companies masquerading as tech jobs.

  26. jaldi1


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    301   11:25pm Mon 6 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    summarizing the discussion.

    Side 1 : There is no tech jobs shortage. Companies want to use cheap labor to increase the profits. Dan's main argument is that when you allow one company to do that, others have to follow ( similar to tragedy of commons) and thus everybody races to the bottom. companies will use cheap labor to increase short term profits at the expense of long term profits. When all companies do that, the country as a whole suffers.

    Side 2: H1bs are not needed for race to bottom. companies can do that with existing local population as well.There are enough non talented people in US already to accomplish that. The companies can hire high school students and pay them very little.what does H1b change ?
    There is real shortage of tech jobs. This is proved by the fact that even after the H1b program has been around for more than a decade, software jobs still command good salaries.Some technologies and companies are only viable when engineers are paid what we pay them today.With very high salaries, a big chunk of the tech industry won't be economical and thus would not have even existed.US has to keep importing foreign talent to compete with other countries. If we don't hire them , they stay home and help their own country compete with US.

    Side 1 vs Side 2 conversation is not new at all. If you look at all the protectionism arguments in various industries across europe and other countries for more than 100 years, its the same kind of arguments. The best way to find whats right is to look at history books. The sources below are for free trade but the arguments are similar to what we are discussing.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704696304575538030239055918.html

    http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/truth-about-trade-history

  27. New Renter


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    jaldi1 says

    summarizing the discussion.

    I think you are focusing too tightly on jobs involving software Perhaps this is all you know or care about; however, this discussion is regarding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - ALL the STEM fields.

    The definitions of the purview of STEM, and what is excluded, varies from organization to organization. In the broader definition, STEM degrees includes the fields of Chemistry, Computer and Information Technology Science, Engineering, Geosciences, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Psychology, Social Sciences, and STEM Education and Learning Research

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STEM_fields

    There appears to be a consensus at this point that Science is indeed NOT suffering from a shortage Quite the opposite in fact. I have yet to see anyone weigh in on Mathematics. As for engineering and technology there is much more to those fields than just software. How are Mechanical Engineers doing? Civil? Aerospace? "Technology" is pretty broad as well.

  28. Rin


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    303   6:35am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    I think you are focusing too tightly on jobs involving software Perhaps this is all you know or care about; however, this discussion is regarding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - ALL the STEM fields.

    There appears to be a consensus at this point that Science is indeed NOT suffering from a shortage Quite the opposite in fact.

    Here's the thing, in MA, places like Genzyme & Vertex have unfilled jobs & like their software counterparts ... will also surrender to the shortage myth but then, only look at resumes from ppl who already have jobs at Wyeth or Biogen [ clearly, ppl are afraid to jump ship, when their isn't much upside to leaving so many of those ppl aren't for hire ] and then, reject nearly 100 applicants from Univ of VT/NH/ME, etc because one particular candidate from Whitehead/Kendall Sq didn't accept an offer.

  29. finehoe


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    304   7:06am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    jaldi1 says

    The companies can hire high school students and pay them very little.what does H1b change ?

    Non-US citizens have less room to complain, companies can work them harder in worse environments. And if they do make any noise, ship 'em back. That's what an H1-B changes.

  30. CaptainShuddup


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    305   8:31am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I heard a great report on NPR this morning, I was also surprised that it was even aired on NPR. But apparently Black farm workers in Georgia are suing big AG for importing "Guest Workers" to do Ag work, and are giving those Mexican guest workers favorable conditions, and also paying them higher, than the local workers.
    These local workers fly in the face of the pro immigration logic, that they are jobs that nobody wants anyway. Then to top it off, those guest workers, get paid better, and are provided better housing.

    It then segued into a story about STEM, about how Microsoft and other giant tech companies have been lobbying Washington for more quest workers in the tech industry. Siting that skilled help is hard to find. Which also flies in the face of high unemployment in the tech sector, that says otherwise.
    If there was a shortage of STEM workers, then the wages would be skyrocketing which isn't the case, because they are able to import Guest illegals to beat back historic wages.

  31. New Renter


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    306   8:42am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    CaptainShuddup says

    I heard a great report on NPR this morning, I was also surprised that it was even aired on NPR.

    I'm just surprised you LISTEN to NPR! :)

    I think this about sums it up:

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    307   8:48am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I just read a book Id like to recommend, for anyone who loves technology and science, even if those careers can pay dick at times. "The Martian" by Andy Weir is about a near future astronaut who gets left behind on Mars when his team bugs out to avoid a storm. It's chock full of geeky math and science and geek humor. I about had a nerdgasm reading it! Awesome.

  33. Rin


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    308   9:03am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    CaptainShuddup says

    If there was a shortage of STEM workers, then the wages would be skyrocketing which isn't the case, because they are able to import Guest illegals to beat back historic wages

    The best way to verify this is to go to glassdoor.com and looks at engineering salaries at Raytheon, Northrup, & United Technologies. These are defense contractors who mainly employ US nationals for security (or soon-to-be) clearance work.

    If there was a real dearth of Americans in STEM, these salaries would span from $100K to $300K, instead the ranges are from $50K to $150K, with the occasional outlying senior tasks/roles from $150K to $200K, pretty normal, if you ask me.

  34. CaptainShuddup


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    309   9:56am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    I'm just surprised you LISTEN to NPR! :)

    I get my outrage straight from the horses ass.
    I don't need to sit around and commiserate with Glen Beck.
    Just because I side with some conservative issues, like the neo Democrats are Assholes. I'm well planted in the reality that Conservatives are Bigger assholes.
    The difference is, I have never once in my life considered my self a Republican, but always considered my self a Democrat until Clinton's administration informed me otherwise.

    I'm over parties, I just want to get someone elected with a real zeal and knack for solving problems, who wont get side tracked with bullshit agendas, that get in the way of any real problems getting solved. That goes for Agendas from both Parties.

  35. New Renter


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    310   10:09am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    CaptainShuddup says

    I get my outrage straight from the horses ass.

    Sounds delicious!

  36. zzyzzx


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    New Renter says

    CaptainShuddup says

    I get my outrage straight from the horses ass.

    Sounds delicious!

    Obligatory:

  37. Mobi


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    312   10:29am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Rin says

    CaptainShuddup says



    If there was a shortage of STEM workers, then the wages would be skyrocketing which isn't the case, because they are able to import Guest illegals to beat back historic wages


    The best way to verify this is to go to glassdoor.com and looks at engineering salaries at Raytheon, Northrup, & United Technologies. These are defense contractors who mainly employ US nationals for security (or soon-to-be) clearance work.


    If there was a real dearth of Americans in STEM, these salaries would span from $100K to $300K, instead the ranges are from $50K to $150K, with the occasional outlying senior tasks/roles from $150K to $200K, pretty normal, if you ask me.

    I believe those companies supporting this H1B expansion bill are the high-tech companies. It seems to me they want PhDs a lot of times. If you go to those highly ranked grad schools, more than 50% of the students in STEM are foreigners. So, I get that just domestic students alone will not meet their needs. However, from what I can tell, a lot of those foreigner PhDs graduated and had a hard time finding jobs in US. Maybe the bottleneck is on H1B quotas. I do not know.

  38. Rin


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    313   10:50am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Mobi says

    I believe those companies supporting this H1B expansion bill are the high-tech companies. It seems to me they want PhDs a lot of times. If you go to those highly ranked grad schools, more than 50% of the students in STEM are foreigners.

    But do they really need someone with the PhD training? Wouldn't a BS/MS in EE or CS (or any STEM area with sufficient programming projects) be enough? And at the same time, if the work is defense, as I'd hinted in the glassdoor.com bit, then H1-Bs can't really work on that stuff. What that means is that the average STEM salary in defense work would skyrocket, as there'd be a huge shortage of US citizen applicants, however, as you can see in Northrup, Raytheon, and others, the salaries are pretty tame and manageable. That's not a mark of a shortage.

  39. New Renter


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    314   10:58am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Mobi says

    I believe those companies supporting this H1B expansion bill are the high-tech companies. It seems to me they want PhDs a lot of times.

    Sure, why not. I'd want a harem of supermodels too.

    Mobi says

    It seems to me they want PhDs a lot of times. If you go to those highly ranked grad schools, more than 50% of the students in STEM are foreigners. So, I get that just domestic students alone will not meet their needs.

    Yes they will. Easily.

    Mobi says

    However, from what I can tell, a lot of those foreigner PhDs graduated and had a hard time finding jobs in US.

    More evidence there are more workers than positions even without the H1B expansion. Take away the post-doc treadmill and you have an even better picture of the situation.

    Mobi says

    Maybe the bottleneck is on H1B quotas. I do not know.

    The problem is the myth has encouraged young people to seek careers in STEM. Many are finding difficulty upon receiving their bachelors so they double down with a graduate degree hoping to God things improve by the time they get out. It doesn't. The only option for many is to hop onto the post-doc treadmill.

  40. Rin


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    315   11:06am Tue 7 May 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    Mobi says

    Maybe the bottleneck is on H1B quotas. I do not know.

    The problem is the myth has encouraged young people to seek careers in STEM. Many are finding difficulty upon receiving their bachelors so they double down with a graduate degree hoping to God things improve by the time they get out. It doesn't. The only option for many is to hop onto the post-doc treadmill.

    Problem is that one needs to double down on a 2nd bachelors or something different, like MS in accounting or physical therapy. I knew a chemical engineer, who got his 2nd degree in physical therapy. Was employed almost immediately, whereas he couldn't get squat with his chem engin bachelors, even in pharmaceutical companies with alleged worker shortages.

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