What is the solution to the oversupply of science graduates? Aparently the solution
in Washington is to import more science graduates. Because if you have more graduates than jobs, there is a shortage of graduates?
Science Careers Magazine

The effects (of guest workers) on domestic workers have been unfavorable, the study finds. A year after receiving their degrees, for example, a third of domestic computer science graduates and almost half of domestic engineering graduates do work unrelated to their major fields. Half of these computer science graduates say they found a better job doing something else; a third say they could find no IT job. Guestworkers, meanwhile, constitute "between a third to a half of the number of all new IT job-holders," the study states.

It is apparent that depressed wages and career opportunities have discouraged Americans from pursuing IT and other STEM careers, but the inestimable benefit of entry into the United States makes guestworker jobs attractive to many hundreds of thousands of foreigners.

Reality vs. Rhetoric

First up are comments by Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT) on 29 January, as he and a group of senatorial colleagues introduced the Immigration Innovation Act, also known by its cool, science-y nickname, "I-Squared." The bill is "designed to address the shortage of high-skilled labor we face in this country," which "has reached a crisis level," Hatch declared. "For too long, our country has been unable to meet the ever-increasing demand for workers trained in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—or STEM—fields."
I keep hearing the same lie repeated almost "talking points" like, on MSNBC from otherwise respectable reporters who seem to be fed the line and are too lazy to challenge the statement. Andrea mitchell and Mika Brzezinski says it almost using the same words, as if fed to them.  Something to the effect of "It doesn't make sense to train them here and let them leave..."
Really, Senator Hatch?! So is the National Science Board's authoritative report, Science and Engineering Indicators 2012, as well as preceding volumes in the biennial series, wrong in its finding that the nation produces three times as many STEM degrees as there are STEM jobs? Is the American Chemical Society's (ACS’s) survey showing "record highs in the unemployment rates" of newly graduating chemists at all degree levels also mistaken? Presumably, we also should not trust Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing unusually high jobless rates for engineers. What about recent tech company layoffs that, in the words of IEEE's publication The Institute, "eliminate thousands of jobs”? And are the many experienced American engineers who are having such great difficulty finding new work just imagining things?

Perhaps, Senator, you missed the Senate testimony by Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.: "[S]killed immigrants … can displace U.S. workers, as has happened in the technology/engineering sector," she said. "Our current admissions system … does not protect U.S. workers from unfair competition, nor ensure that America is bringing in the kind of workers that are needed, as opposed to simply enabling U.S. employers to bypass U.S. workers. A growing body of research indicates that … the claims of a general shortage of the so-called STEM workers are exaggerated. Our colleges and universities are turning out more degree holders in these fields than there are job openings, and there is persistent high unemployment in STEM occupations."

Maybe you didn't catch Harvard Law School immigration expert Michael Teitelbaum's testimony at a recent congressional hearing that "the evidence does not support claims of generalized shortages of STEM workers in the US workforce. … Proposals to expand the number of visas for STEM fields should focus carefully and flexibly on those fields that can be shown to be experiencing excess demand relative to supply in the U.S. labor market." Or maybe you haven't seen ACS’s recent report calling "the number of career opportunities … insufficient to accommodate those qualified for and desiring entry."

In fact, Senator, the nation's supposed skill shortage is so overblown that one engineer who recently said he's "looking for work" is Adam Steltzner. Can't place the name? He's the "Elvis Guy" with an engineering physics Ph.D. who helped lead the team that designed last summer's thrilling Curiosity Mars lander.

Originally posted to IT Professional on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 03:56 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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