Is there a shortage in the STEM workforce?


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education initiatives are so hot right now because of claims of shortages of good students going into these fields (including minorities and women, post about that). However, some people claim that the sources making shortage claims are slightly to heavily biased. Michael Teitelbaum is one person that doesn’t believe the clamor of shortages in STEM fields and wrote a great piece for the Huffington Post. As a scientist that has seen over and over again different graphics showing the dismal job outlook for scientists in academia, I would have to agree with him. However, I do believe that STEM initiatives will be crucial in attracting minorities and women to these fields, which is extremely important. Below are the five points brought up in the article, obviously with more explanation in the original.

1) Almost all objective analysts have been unable to find evidence of broad-based “shortages” in the science and engineering workforce.

2) There is a long and damaging history of “alarm/boom/bust” cycles initiated by such shortage claims, going back at least to World War II.

3) Public discussion of these issues is remarkably garbled — even “STEM” is invoked with wildly different meanings.

4) The performance in international science and math tests by American 15-year-olds is a matter of legitimate concern, but has little to do with education of sufficient numbers of US scientists and engineers.

5) Recent political and media discussions of the science and engineering workforce have been dominated by interest groups promoting shortage claims.

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