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<o> Is the "STEM Shortage" a myth in The USA ? <o>


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#1 Code Fox   Members   -  Reputation: 1808

Posted 10 July 2014 - 10:05 PM

 There has been a major push in the last few years ( USA ) to get as many kids enrolled into college "STEM" classes as possible. [*1]

There is a belief that there is a shortage of skilled workers in the "STEM" fields, however employment data for new college graduates points in the opposite direction.

 In a study that just came out, a total, 74% of college graduates with a "STEM" related degree, are unable to find a "STEM" related job [ LINK ] .

 

 This is nothing new, however. It is already known that over 40% of all college graduates will not have a job after 6 months of graduation - and an additional 16% will have a job working less than 30 hours a week. [ LINK ] .

 The of all kids that are lucky enough to land a full time job, 27% will have a job related to their field of study [ LINK ] .

 

Some of the worse job fields for new college graduates as of 2013 are:

 

Teaching

Engineering

Legal / Law

Business Management / Accounting

Psycology

Journalism / Art / Media

Anything with "general" or "studies" in the title

Nursing ( very bad in some states )

 

[*1] Note: College dropout rate in the USA is 41% for first time students [ LINK ] .


Edited by Shippou, 11 July 2014 - 12:22 AM.

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#2 SeraphLance   Members   -  Reputation: 1454

Posted 10 July 2014 - 11:09 PM

I think it's possible that the term "STEM" obfuscates the problem.  I don't believe believe there are any shortages in the maths and sciences.  There's not a lot of science graduates in the school I graduated from to be sure, but there wasn't exactly a lot of demand for them either.  Engineering is a wash -- it really depends on the discipline.  Comp Sci guys though are in high demand -- basically every CS grad from my uni had job offers before they graduated, and it's not a prestigious school or hi-tech hotspot.



#3 Ohforf sake   Members   -  Reputation: 1832

Posted 11 July 2014 - 03:07 AM

Maybe this is the money quote (from one of the links)

More than 40 percent of recent U.S. college graduates are underemployed or need more training to get on a career track, a poll released on Tuesday showed.


I'm not from the US, so I can't speak for the US education system, but in my country, there is a clear development towards the stance of "leaving nobody behind", especially in schools. While universities are still largely unaffected from that, getting a university degree means that you know the basics, and have the endurance to eat whatever bureaucratic crap you have to endure to get the degree, but not that you are fit for a job in your field. As far as I can tell, most employers see the university degree as a necessary, but not sufficient qualification. And for good reason. Just like every student, I have had to work multiple university projects in random teams, and the skillset ranges from people who could build the next big GPU arch to guys you wouldn't entrust with a sorting algorithm.

Those 40%, that are having trouble finding a job, can probably be split into two groups: Those that are capable, but have nothing to prove it (private projects, internships, ...), and those that are truly clueless. In both cases, them not getting hired is not an indication for the absence of a "STEM shortage", but for a failure of the education system.

#4 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4761

Posted 11 July 2014 - 05:04 AM


and the skillset ranges from people who could build the next big GPU arch to guys you wouldn't entrust with a sorting algorithm.
To be fair, I wouldn't trust myself with a sorting algorithm either :D

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#5 Bregma   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5439

Posted 11 July 2014 - 05:45 AM

Gods grant me the patience to land the perfect job in my field NOW.   Dammit, I showed up to most of my classes, where's my damn trophy?


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#6 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1914

Posted 11 July 2014 - 06:42 AM

Well perhaps....

 

 

 

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#7 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1443

Posted 12 July 2014 - 02:55 AM

There is no shortage. the problem is that these employers have knuckleheads as their HR teams. How they hell is one suppose to get experience when you cant get a job without experience? I swear its a catch 22 situation here. And I am in no way going to do the modern day slavery known as "unpaid internships" to get experience.


Edited by ISDCaptain01, 12 July 2014 - 02:57 AM.


#8 Ohforf sake   Members   -  Reputation: 1832

Posted 12 July 2014 - 04:35 AM

Ok, to clarify: What I meant in my previous post is that there may or may not be a "STEM shortage" in the US, but that the number of college graduates, that are having troubles finding a job, is a bad metric for it. The number of open job positions would be a far better indicator.

As for the "catch 22" situation: Yes, it definitely is a problem. In some fields more than in others. While you can fill your portfolio with the small computer games that you wrote at home, there is no way to build an international airport in your backyard. But I believe, that employers in the latter field are also more likely to understand the lack of prior projects, then for example, an employer in the video games industry.

I'm still on my way out of university, so everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt, but my advice to everyone is to try and get a small *paid* part time job in your respective field for the last couple of years at university. IMHO getting paid is important, not for the money, but because it forces your employer to give you productive tasks. If possible, also do some private projects to fill your portfolio. In that respect I think that we (comp sci and comp engi) are really privileged, because most things, that are expected from us on the job, we can actually do at home.

You have to remember, that hiring the wrong guy can do significantly more damage than keeping the position open. As a part time or low wage intern, the amount of damage that you can cause is rather low, so it's a good way to get your foot into the door and build up a track record and connections, so that when you do graduate, you have more than a degree to show, that you are indeed the "right guy".

#9 dave j   Members   -  Reputation: 599

Posted 12 July 2014 - 04:49 AM

In the UK we have a supposed STEM graduate shortage as well. On the whole, STEM graduates can get higher paid jobs in unrelated fields. This feeds back into the subjects people choose to study. There are also frequent calls by companies that they need to import foreigners to do this work because of the supposed shortage (they'll generally work for less money). All sorts of education initiatives are being put in place to encourage more people to take up STEM subjects but the real problem we have is that companies are unwilling to pay STEM graduates salaries that are competitive with what they can achieve in other fields. Until that happens, I can't see the 'problem' going away.

#10 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22731

Posted 12 July 2014 - 08:25 AM

It is both in my view.

There are too many people getting degrees in fields with limited usefulness. I knew some people getting degrees in medieval literature, and there isn't much of a market for that. University education is not job training, but some topics have better employment prospects than others.

On the other hand, companies have shifted from where they were years ago. Too many employers are looking for drop-in replacements and refuse to train anyone. Some fields like medicine and teaching have requirements for continuous training. In our field most employers refuse to provide continuous education, and then just fire the old team and hire a new team with updated skills. Perhaps a few people can get trained on newer technologies on the company's money, but most of us are expected to learn on our own time. Too many employers look for exactly-experienced workers who have been programming in old technology up until yesterday, but also have five years with the new technology.

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#11 alnite   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2132

Posted 12 July 2014 - 08:36 AM

Well perhaps....


 

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Love your all rolleyes.gif

 

Amazing!


Edited by alnite, 12 July 2014 - 08:36 AM.


#12 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1443

Posted 12 July 2014 - 01:51 PM

It is both in my view.
There are too many people getting degrees in fields with limited usefulness. I knew some people getting degrees in medieval literature, and there isn't much of a market for that. University education is not job training, but some topics have better employment prospects than others.
On the other hand, companies have shifted from where they were years ago. Too many employers are looking for drop-in replacements and refuse to train anyone. Some fields like medicine and teaching have requirements for continuous training. In our field most employers refuse to provide continuous education, and then just fire the old team and hire a new team with updated skills. Perhaps a few people can get trained on newer technologies on the company's money, but most of us are expected to learn on our own time. Too many employers look for exactly-experienced workers who have been programming in old technology up until yesterday, but also have five years with the new technology.


I think this is a really bad strategy used by companies. They are just demoralizing their workers. How can one focus on making an awesome game when their livelihood is at threat? I sure couldn't

#13 Code Fox   Members   -  Reputation: 1808

Posted 12 July 2014 - 02:42 PM

 


I think this is a really bad strategy used by companies. They are just demoralizing their workers. How can one focus on making an awesome game when their livelihood is at threat? I sure couldn't

 

 In my line of work your job only lasts as long as the project. Once the project is over - so is your job.

 

 Since there are so many "educated" folks flooding the jobs market, "skilled" workers are becoming very disposable .

 

 I'm reading a story here about how there is a growing trend toward a disposable workforce in the software development, engineering, & science fields.


Edited by Shippou, 12 July 2014 - 02:44 PM.

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#14 Sirisian   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1793

Posted 13 July 2014 - 08:59 PM

Before I got my job I noticed in software there's a large demand for temporary jobs. So basically contract positions. I'd be curious if a perceived shortage might be related to that. I wasn't looking at all the contract positions because I wanted to move and start a career not just start a 6 month job then be forced to move on. I could definitely see where non-software companies are looking to have things made and they put up a job listing for "8 month contract for boring software on-site in Kentucky" then don't get many hits and assume there's a shortage.



#15 cadjunkie   Members   -  Reputation: 1352

Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:40 AM

I think there's a miscommunication here. The STEM jobs article doesn't say they were unable to find jobs. They simply say that 74% of people who studied STEM disciplines don't work a STEM-related job. There's more to it than just the jobs in the field you studied. A lot of guys in the engineering program with me got jobs as analysts at Goldman Sachs during their degree because the pay was better than being a code monkey on some campus website or working as a lab tech. When they graduated, Goldman offered them a position that had a higher salary than any entry-level job that they could have taken in their field because they racked up experience working for them during their degree. They went where the money was and they ended up staying there for a long time. This kind of thing might also couple with students thinking they like this STEM field, but then later realize they would rather do something else.

 

The other articles I can see that being truly representative of the job market. Studying medieval Scandinavian literature might be rewarding, but it's not a skill that will win over HR reps. I think the real problem is that college students are biased towards the non-STEM fields because teachers are teaching mathematics terribly. Any teacher who teaches classes above the 5th grade level (and some probably below that) will tell you that the curriculum is poor and most students end up hating math before they get out of basic algebra. They then naturally shift toward something that isn't confusing, like English lit or social science. Fixing that is the first step to fixing the "STEM problem".



#16 slayemin   Members   -  Reputation: 2911

Posted 17 July 2014 - 08:11 AM

Whenever you hear an employer say, "I can't find a STEM major to fill my opening", you have to append the words "...for the price I want to pay."


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#17 Jarwulf   Members   -  Reputation: 222

Posted 18 July 2014 - 02:37 PM

I think it's possible that the term "STEM" obfuscates the problem.  I don't believe believe there are any shortages in the maths and sciences.  There's not a lot of science graduates in the school I graduated from to be sure, but there wasn't exactly a lot of demand for them either.  Engineering is a wash -- it really depends on the discipline.  Comp Sci guys though are in high demand -- basically every CS grad from my uni had job offers before they graduated, and it's not a prestigious school or hi-tech hotspot.

 

 

The only people who believe theres a shortage of 'STEM' workers are the guys that don't work there. Sure there are 'STEM' fields where you can more easily get a job than other industries ie CompSci vs Renaissance Studies. But its nowhere near the golden fields of opportunity fallow of workers the politicians and ceos like to whine about. Even CompSci has severe challenges of outsourcing, overwork, and stability while many other disciplines like BioSci are overcrowded with Medschool washouts and is 50% forsaken grad students/postdocs toiling on the plantation. We could argue that we need science till the cows come home but the fact remains that society does a lot to pump up STEM at school but virtually abandons students by the time they graduate. At least with Humanities you don't have the talking heads pushing disinterested women, minorities, and h1bs into an already saturated market at the same time.






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