Nearly a year ago, Jay Schalin argued in a three-part Pope Center piece that there really isn’t the shortage of STEM (science, technology,engineering, and mathematics) graduates that everyone assumes exists (and that the government has been pouring in money to correct). While the article received plenty of comment, the topic didn’t get much traction in the larger media world.
That changed this week when the Washington Post revealed a study showing the same thing. As the Post said, “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.” Basically, the study says, wages are flat and some technically trained workers can’t find jobs.
The politics of this are murky, with a number of players. Why does a “left-leaning institute” study this? Certainly, high-tech companies such as Microsoft are trying to expand the H-1B visas that bring in foreign workers on the grounds that there aren’t enough technically trained people in the United States. And those companies are trying to distinguish themselves (the Post says) from “out-sourcing” companies that re just looking for people “who will work for less.”
It’s hard to see through the multiple veils of self-interest, but the numbers do show that Microsoft’s (and other companies’) claims may, at best, be incomplete.