Draft:The Myth of the Scientist and Engineering Shortage

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  • Symbol opinion vote.svg Comment: My concern is also that this title is closely paraphrased from the title on The Atlantic article, and should probably be renamed if it is to be a more general topic. AngusWOOF (barksniff) 03:17, 6 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Symbol opinion vote.svg Comment: There's an article in The Atlantic called "The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage" that is described in the STEM article. This could redirect there. AngusWOOF (barksniff) 02:32, 28 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Symbol opinion vote.svg Comment: This reads like an essay comparing the sides on the engineering shortage debate. AngusWOOF (barksniff) 02:44, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

In reference to the labour market, the myth of the STEM worker shortage is a largely debated conventional wisdom highlighting a supply shortage or a projected shortage of scientists and engineers in relation to their required demand.[1], deriving from the lack of students pursuing careers within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) academic disciplines[2].

Throughout the 20th century, the myth of the STEM worker shortage has also referenced a shortage of supply in relation to national policy targets as a means of facilitating rapid technological advancements, as well as referencing an inadequate pool of highly technical engineers and scientists to make ground breaking progress and enhance livelihoods[3].

History[edit]

Portrait of George Washington

Early History[edit]

The genesis and development of the scientist and engineer shortage conventional wisdom largely stemmed from the United States of America. The first contribution to the promotion of science and technical knowledge was in 1790, where George Washington acknowledged it in his State of the Union Address[4], outlining its contribution to “the enlightened confidence of the people”[5].

Modern Development[edit]

The modern development and re-invigoration of the scientist and engineer shortage conventional wisdom largely stemmed from the United States in the 1950s, as a response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik 1. This generated a fear of the possibility of the greater technical prowess of the Soviet Union, which was considered a matter of national security[6].

Following the launch of Sputnik 1, this ideology developed through the 1960’s, culminating in a 1968 research report, The Shortage of Scientists and Engineers, written by Hugh Folk as a part of the NASA Economic Research Program. This report greater defined the idea of a scientist and engineering shortage, and analysed the supply and demand markets to find that volatile shifts in technical advancements in the 1950’s created a shortage via excess demand, creating wage increases and job vacancies[7]. Despite highlighting a strong argument regarding the need to increase the size of the overall workforce, the article does address its analytical shortcomings regarding the accurateness of its projections, and the difficulty of predicting future supply and demand.[8]

Howard Wolpe, Leader of National Science Foundation report investigation

In 1985, a National Science Foundation (NSF) study projected a doubling of Ph.D. replacement needs within the fields of science and engineering between 1988 and 2006, which further assured the existence of a science and engineering shortage. However, due to its use of supply-side economics, and that NSF director Neal Lane labelled it flawed in his 1995 congressional testimony, it was disregarded by experts in the field[9]. Howard Wolpe, a seven-term US representative who led the investigation into the study and its irregularities, stated that the shortfall was projected “without considering the future demand for such individuals in the marketplace”[10]. Despite this, the paper had already been distributed and had impacted the scientist and engineer conventional wisdom[11]

The dot-com bubble, as illustrated via the NASDAQ composite index spike in the late 1990's

Throughout the latter half of the 1990's, there was an increase in firm lobbying in the US, particularly Washington D.C, regarding the need to increase worker shortages within the information technology (IT) industry. This resulted in the tripling of the issuing of H1-B visas to skilled migrant workers in order to accommodate for the supposed labour shortage.[12] This was later categorised as the dot-com bubble, which was a period of intense speculative investment, mostly in the US, characterised as a period of extreme growth as per the increase in overall internet usage.[13]

Following this, a congressional testimony of Norman Augustine in 2005 relayed a four-step action plan to ensure the global competitiveness of the United States, which focused on higher education[14]. This, paired with the subsequent release of a consensus study report from the National Research Council in 2007, highlighting the need for “innovative enterprises that lead to discovery and new technology”[15], refreshed the scientist and engineering shortage debate, due to the reputability of the publishing organisation. This report outlined concern regarding the strength the US's scientific and technological position in relation to worldwide growth, indicating the need for government intervention in accordance with projected trends. This was followed by a detailed recommendation for a large volume of science and technology teaching scholarships, incentivising students to pursue careers within these fields, and government provision of a larger volume of research grants and federal investment into long-term research.

A follow-up to the 2007 consensus study report by the National Research Council in 2010, evaluated that the lack of response to the previous report has worsened the situation drastically. This report highlighted the implications of minimal improvements by the government to the education system, in conjunction with a lack of changes in the private sector, is inhibiting the U.S.'s ability to facilitate the rapid creation of jobs in the fields of Science and Engineering.[16] This further perpetuated the shortage narrative, as well as playing a vital role in the authorization of a significant amount of STEM education funding.[17]

Presently, there is still an existing discussion of the STEM worker shortage narrative. in April 2019, the Australian Government listed twelve STEM fields in their quarterly report that indicate occupational skill shortages, as backed by research.[18] In addition to this, both IT professionals and Engineers are still currently listed as occupations on the US H1-B visa occupation list.[19]

The STEM Worker Shortage Debate[edit]

Arguments For the STEM Worker Shortage Debate[edit]

The Keck center, containing the National Research Council, Washington D.C.

The combination of both reports conducted by the National Research Council in 2007 and 2010 presented an argument in favor of the existence of shortage of scientists and engineers. Here, the National Research Council cited the major argument for the existence of an scientist and engineering shortage through a comparison of the forecasted performance of the labour market in relation to international standards and national objectives[20][21], with the prior report highlighting a concern for “the future prosperity of the United States”. [22] The recommendation made by the 2010 report included improvements to primary and secondary education regarding science and mathematics, in addition to government funding and encouragement to those students who wish to pursue careers in science, engineering and mathematics.[23]

Additionally, a 2012 report conducted by the Royal Academy of Engineering also highlighted a shortage of scientists and engineers within the United Kingdom, predicated upon detailed econometric research. This has occurred despite wage premiums in many science and engineering.[24] The report predicted an annual requirement of over 100,000 STEM graduates between 2012-2020, which would not be filled by their prediction of 90,000 STEM graduates.[25] It also concluded that the success of the the engineering sector had a pervasive impact on the economy as a whole.[26]

Arguments Against the STEM Worker Shortage Debate[edit]

There have been a number of studies conducted which suggest a lack of an engineering shortage within the labour market, particularly the United States labour market.

A 2004 paper focusing on the capacity and technical ability of those in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions found that from 1990 to the publication of the paper, found no evidence to suggest shortages in these fields from at least 1990 onwards, as well as establishing the lack of evidence for a possible shortage in the near future[27]. This is predicated upon the fact that labour shortages are often indicated through low levels of underemployment and rising wage levels, both of which are not being strongly exhibited in the science and engineering workforces. This report also outlines the increasing proportion of STEM graduates that are non-citizens, and highlights concern that the US could become too heavily dependent on foreign STEM expertise.[28]

Additionally, a 2013 report by the Economic Policy Institute established that universities produced an oversupply of STEM graduates, with labour supply exceeding demand by “nearly 2 to 1”[29], with likewise performance numbers within the fields of science and engineering. As well as this, the examination presented of the labour market highlights a strong flow of US students into STEM fields over the previous decade, as well as being receptive to economic shifts, including employment levels and wages.[30]

Difficulties and Shortcomings of the Debate[edit]

As the importance of science and engineering workforces highly correlate to national technological advancement and national security, much of which spawned the initial conventional wisdom[31], research has suggested that this has created a shortage of objective information [32]

Additionally, there is further debate on the meaning of a STEM worker shortage. Difficulty encompassing whether the labour shortage is in reference to a lack of supply in the labour market, or a lack of supply in comparison to national outcomes, dates back as far as 1968[33]. Also, modern research has suggested the possibility of including all employers with technical knowledge within this worker classification, rather than just those with higher education [34][35]

As well as this, there is a large disparity in the performance of separate segments of the STEM industry. This was highlighted in a 2004 report regarding the scientific and technological workforces reaching national quotas. this report highlighted a disparity of underemployment patterns - often a vital sign of a possible labour force shortage - between the engineering and IT sectors of the STEM workforce as a whole.[36] This outlined a further need to divide the analysis of the STEM inductry as a whole, to establish the possibility of a worker shortage.

Impact of Skilled Migration on the STEM Worker Shortage[edit]

Skilled worker migration is generally defined as migrants who have specialist technical knowledge, who often possess a high level of tertiary education[37]. This, accompanied with the modern development of economic globalization, allowed for the conglomeration of human capital in advanced economies.[38] This has resulted in a steady growth of skilled migration in advanced economies from 1990 to 2010, with a 2018 paper highlighting 16% of bachelor students in the U.S. being immigrants.[39] This has impacted global labour force trends.

An example of this can be seen in the U.S., where the H-1B visa was established under the Immigration act of 1990. This governs immigrant admission form employment in the United States [40]. The employment levels as a result of this visa have been heavily skewed to the science and engineering field, and has created a discussion regarding a shortage in native scientists and engineers. The 2000 US census highlighted that “24% and 47% of the U.S. SE workforce with bachelor’s and doctorate educations”[41] respectively, are immigrants. This has resulted in a native shortage, with a 2016 American research report presenting the existence of a labour shortage of scientists and engineers native to America.

The conglomeration of human capital has also had an impact on the skill of workers in developing countries, where the issue of brain drain (also known as human capital flight) is very prevalent. This was highlighted in a 2007 paper outlining the levels of human capital flight in accordance to emigration rates and education levels, which exhibited "consistent and reliable information about the loss of human capital in developing regions".[42]

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Folk, Hugh (October 1972). "The Shortage of Scientists and Engineers" (PDF). Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 26: 745 – via NASA.
  2. ^ Stevenson, Heidi (2014). "Myths and Motives behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative" (PDF). Issues in Teacher Education. 23: 133.
  3. ^ Folk, Hugh (October 1972). "The Shortage of Scientists and Engineers" (PDF). Industrial and Labour Relations Review. 26: 743–800 – via NASA.
  4. ^ Stevenson, Heidi (2014). "Myths and Motives behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative" (PDF). Issues in Teacher Education. 23: 135.
  5. ^ Washington, George. "From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 8 January 1790". Founders Online. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  6. ^ Stevenson, Heidi (2014). "Myths and Motives behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative" (PDF). Issues in Teacher Education. 23: 135.
  7. ^ Folk, Hugh (October 1972). "The Shortage of Scientists and Engineers" (PDF). Industrial and Labour Relations Review. 26: 957–1006 – via NASA.
  8. ^ Folk, Hugh (October 1972). "The Shortage of Scientists and Engineers" (PDF). Industrial Labor and Relations Review. 26: 1123–1175 – via NASA.
  9. ^ Weinstein, Eric (2 August 2003). "How and Why Government, Universities and Industry Create Domestic Labor Shortages of Scientists and High-Tech Workers" (PDF). National Bureau of Economic Research: 9–11.
  10. ^ Weinstein, Eric (2 August 2003). "How and Why Government, Universities, and Industry Create Domestic Labor Shortages of Scientists and High-Tech Workers" (PDF). National Bureau of Economic Research: 9.
  11. ^ Stevenson, Heidi (2014). "Myths and Motives behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative" (PDF). Issues in Teacher Education. 23: 136.
  12. ^ Stevenson, Heidi (2014). "Myths and Motives behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative" (PDF). Issues in Teacher Education. 23: 137.
  13. ^ Wollscheid, Christian (July 11, 2012). Rise and Burst of the Dotcom Bubble: Causes, Characteristics, Examples. GRIN Verlag. p. 1.
  14. ^ Stevenson, Heidi (2014). "Myths and Motives behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative" (PDF). Issues in Teacher Education. 23: 137.
  15. ^ Rising above the gathering storm: energizing and employing America for a brighter economic future. Washington D.C.: National Academic Press. 2007. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-280-84462-1.
  16. ^ National, Research Council (2010). Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington D.C.: National Academies Press. pp. 1–18. ISBN 978-1-282-88579-0.
  17. ^ Stevenson, Heidi (Spring 2014). "Myths and Motives behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative" (PDF). Issues in Teacher Education. 23: 141.
  18. ^ "Occupational Skill Shortages Information". Australian Government. 29 May 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  19. ^ "US H-1B Visa occupation list". workpermit.com. 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  20. ^ Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Washington D.C.: National Academic Press. 2007. ISBN 978-1-280-84462-1.
  21. ^ Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington D.C.: National Academic Press. 2010. ISBN 978-1-282-88579-0.
  22. ^ Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Washington D.C.: National Academic Press. 2007. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-280-84462-1.
  23. ^ National, Research Council (2010). Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington D.C.: National Academic Press. pp. 18–22. ISBN 978-1-282-88579-0.
  24. ^ Harrison, Matthew (2012). "Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy". Royal Academy of Engineering: 3.
  25. ^ Harrison, Matthew (2012). "Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy". Royal Academy of Engineering. 3: 29–32.
  26. ^ Harrison, Matthew (2012). "Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy". Royal Academy of Engineering. 3: 32–35.
  27. ^ Butz, William (2004). Will the Scientific and Technology Workforce Meet the Requirements of the Federal Government?. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. pp. 1–55.
  28. ^ Butz, William (2004). Will the Scientific and Technology Workforce Meet the Requirements of the Federal Government?. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. pp. 1–55.
  29. ^ Salzman, Hal; Kuehn, Daniel; Lowell, Lindsay (2013). "Guestworkers in the high-skill US labor market: An analysis of supply, employment, and wage trends" (PDF). Economic Policy Institute: 7.
  30. ^ Salzman, Hal; Kuehn, Daniel; Lowell, Lindsay (2013). "Guestworkers in the high-skill US labor market: An analysis of supply, employment, and wage trends" (PDF). Economic Policy Institute. 7: 2–3.
  31. ^ Folk, Hugh (October 1972). "The Shortage of Scientists and Engineers" (PDF). Industrial and Labour Relations Review. 26: 743.
  32. ^ Hira, Ron (2010). "U.S. Policy and the STEM Workforce System". Americal Behavioural Scientist. 53 (7): 949–961. doi:10.1177/0002764209356230.
  33. ^ Folk, Hugh (October 1972). "The Shortage of Scientists and Engineers" (PDF). Industrial and Labour Relations Review. 26: 745–800 – via NASA.
  34. ^ Rothwell, Jonathan (10 June 2013). "The Hidden STEM Economy". Brookings. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  35. ^ Schmidt, Megan (September 2013). "No Bachelors Degree Required". Quality Progress. 46 (9): 12–13.
  36. ^ Butz, William (2004). Will the Scientific and Technology Workforce Meet the Requirements of the Federal Government? - Summary. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. pp. i–xv.
  37. ^ Vertovec, Steven (2002). "Transnational networks and skilled labour migration": 2. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  38. ^ Docquier, Frederic; Rapoport, Hillel (2007). Skilled migration: the perspective of developing countries. St. Louis: IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc. p. 3.
  39. ^ Ma, Jie (24 December 2018). "High Skilled Immigration and the Market for Skilled Labor: The Role of Occupational Choice" (PDF). Working paper. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  40. ^ Kerr, William R; Lincoln, William F (July 2010). "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and U.S. Ethnic Invention" (PDF). Journal of Labour Economics. 28 (3): 473–508. doi:10.1086/651934.
  41. ^ Varas, Jacqueline (5 April 2016). "The Native-born STEM Shortage" (PDF). American Action Forum. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  42. ^ Docquier, Frederic; Lohest, Olivier; Marfouk, Abdeslam (2007). Brain drain in developing countries (PDF). St. Louis: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis. pp. 3, 20.

Further Reading[edit]

  • The Atlantic: The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage
  • Alan S. Brown, 2009. What Engineering Shortage?
  • Vivek Wadhwa, Gary Gereffi, Ben Rissing and Ryan Ong, Spring 2007. Where the engineers are. Issues in Science and Technology. 23, 3

Category: Labour economics Category: Economic Policy

The Myth of the STEM Worker Shortage[edit]