Is the STEM shortage a manufactured crisis?

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  • magyart Gahanna, OH
    Sept. 26, 2013 1:17 p.m.

    I work at an Engineering firm and there is no shortage of qualified employees, provided they are paid fairly, work full time, and have benefits.

    The shortage of STEM workers is a fraud. Far too many employers simply want low coat labor. Using labor with a temporary visa, keeps wages low, especially if you churn their ranks. Send the older ones home and continuously replace them with new, low wage workers.

    Some of our engineering skills are developed over years of training and education. Unfortunately, these employees are redundant and terminated. Only to be replaced by a low wage visa holder.

    I have 25 years of solid experience, but work as a 1099 employee without benefits. As long as I never need health insurance, I'm ok.

  • New to Utah PAYSON, UT
    Sept. 26, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    H-1B is a way to lower the wages of American workers and allow companies to hire more foreigners. It is a hoax at best. STEM has a tie in to political correctness, students need to choose what is best for them to study. What I've heard is we have plenty of STEM job lookers but they want a decent wage so corporations want to pay less and that means hiring immigrants.Hiring our own citizens will be much more profitable in the long run for companies but maybe not the nest quarterly report.

    Sept. 25, 2013 10:04 p.m.

    The last thing we need is more gosh darn smart people messin things up.

  • Reason2 Los Angeles, CA
    Sept. 25, 2013 3:36 a.m.


    What Americans lack in Math skills, foreigners lack in communication skills (in English), an equally important set of STEM job skills.

    Too many American schools are forced to teach at an ESL level because of the increasing number of immigrant kids put into our schools (on our tax dollars). With No Child Left Behind, the whole class is slowed down and bright kids are forced to learn at the slowest pace, setting the speed at which they acquire math skills.

    Yes, companies watch their cash flow, but if they have the choice between hiring two equally skilled applicants, they will hire the immigrant at a lower rate.

    The Catch-22 of our STEM degrees is a factor. What American student wants to rack up, say $50-$70k in educational debt (studying 5 years minimum for a STEM degree) only to find wages in STEM fields depressed by the ever-increasing number of immigrants brought in on H-1B visas who are hired at lower wages, or worst case, never get hired because a lower-priced immigrant is given the job? What kind of incentive are we giving them?

    The population of MT justifies your lack of candidates.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:16 p.m.

    Kalispell, MT:

    * Half our entering college students are in need of remedial classes. That leads to a shortage, because many don't gain the skills needed.
    * Many college professors (my wife being one of them), will tell you, our students aren't prepared for college. Math skills are very low. That too, leads to a shortage.
    * Companies hire engineers who will increase cash flow. Lower wages do not out weigh the need for skilled workers.
    * With engineers I've talked to, I would guess the younger aged engineers are mainly foreigners, because there aren't enough American students skilled enough to do the work. Companies have greater trust with foreigners.
    * Our largest hospital here in McAllen, has a skilled work force of eighty percent foreigners. They offered wages of eighty dollars an hour, and still couldn't find the American workers.

    Wish I was wrong, but I see little evidence of American students being STEM qualified. At least, not in a large number.

  • Woodswalker Monroe, WA
    Sept. 24, 2013 4:50 p.m.

    Another thing that didnt seem to be taken into account, at least at THIS company of 180K+ employees, the age distribution is a severe double hump. The older end is from 45-65 and contains nearly 70% of the total population. This is mostly due to heavy layoffs after 9/11 when orders PLUMMETED. The other end of the hump is from ~25-32 with a deep trough inbetween them. Right now, today, 45% of the Engineering staff could retire within 90 days.

    Not only would that be a SEVERE brain drain with centuries of "tribal knowledge" and practical experience going out the door, but there wouldn't be enough experienced hands left to teach the newcomers. As noted in another comment we roll some business systems and engineering systems every few years and more KBE tools are being introduced that require training. So the hole is a real one, as the Aerospace industry has consolidated for decades now and it is not replacing its attrition.

  • Reason2 Los Angeles, CA
    Sept. 24, 2013 3:24 p.m.

    Silicon valley companies and all those who signed the recent petition to Congress to increase the number of H-1B visas for STEM workers have one goal in mind: cheap labor. Already, the U.S. issues over 1.5 million permanent work permits annually. Often the monthly numbers are in excess of the number of jobs created. This has gone on unabated throughout the recession as well. There are millions of unemployed American STEM workers and American companies continue to layoff more. Many have given up looking for work and are no longer counted. These kid-CEOs want disposable employees-- young immigrants who will work for sub-par wages for untold numbers of hours without quitting. I've seen job descriptions here tailored for a specific immigrant-- it happens all the time to cut out Americans. What incentive do American kids have to go into STEM fields only to amass $70,000+ in school loans to work for depressed wages due to the massive influx in foreign employees?? It's a unethical Catch-22 created by companies who want to increase their profits at the expense of the future of America. NO INCREASES IN IMMIGRATION, NO MORE H-1B VISAS!!

  • Fitz Murray, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    So after reading the whole article, I am a bit lost as to the answer to the question on whether or not there is a H1b visa shortage. The article did not make clear the closure of the article.

    There are some very interesting posts here, and if they are factual, then there really is no need for more H1b visas. @Troup's post is just plain frightening. @Jefferson seems to talk from inside the STEM system and makes interesting points against more H1b visas. Jefferson also seems to clearly rebut Worf's post. @VickiB's post about bringing in H1B visa holders that seem to meet STEM standards is done to bring human resource costs down by paying out of country workers who come here lower wages is disturbing.

    I guess, with this untested data, there really is no need for more H1b visas. There are more than enough STEM qualified college grads. If this is true, then the need to modify this part of the current immigration laws is not necessary and is one more reason to leave the current immigration laws alone.

  • Troup Longwood, FL
    Sept. 24, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    There is no shortage, only a desire by corporate donors (to congressional campaigns) for pushing down wages. H-1b and L-1 visas are abused on a regular basis. Here is how they are used.

    Our entire IT department was brought into a room and told they'd be laid off, but first mgmt said "We want you to train your replacements, then we'll have a severance for you when you leave."

    About 20 days later, in comes a slew of TATA India employees, holders of H-1b and L-1 visas. Thinking this was wrong, we contacted our FL Senators and Rep John Mica.

    Our replacements were mostly young graduates with little to no experience in middleware data sharing applications that we had developed. The long term goal was to move the jobs abroad, but that can't be done without "Knowledge Transfer". Using H-1b/L1 visas is the KEY to moving jobs abroad, it's the only way to get the "Knowledge Transfer". Our replacements even created "Knowledge Transfer" documents.

    That's what H-1b and L-1 visas are used for.

  • whitelion4 Chillicothe, USA, OH
    Sept. 24, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    Regarding schools-I've known tat it was a crock since high school. I transferred from a Brooklyn school and they thought they had to hold me back a year. A test showed I should skip a grade. As for jobs, look in Ohio. Every second or third person needs a job and is quite willing and able to do it. We just need business that don't expect you to unionize or take third world pay.

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:47 a.m.

    The STEM rhetoric is simply another message brought to the public by those who wish to see our public schools system fail.

    It is a myth and it is purposefully misleading the public.

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:28 a.m.

    One of the problems with our H-1b program is the abuse it allows. These folks bring in people from overseas and hold so much power, whether in illusion or in reality, that they can seriously underpay the person while abusing them badly. This abuse can be mental, financial, emotional, or simply 18 hour days.

  • Denverite Centennial, CO
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:10 a.m.

    In my day as a practicing engineer, you expected to learn at least 1 new software package at every new job. Employers understood it was necessary, and employees understood it even if they didn't like it because it was "new."

    There were people even back then complaining about lack of trained workers. Even then, there were times that with an EE degree and speaking 3 languages, I had trouble finding a job.

    The feeling I get now is, A) multiple new software packages may often be needed at each new job, B) companies don't want to accept now that some training expenses are still required with new employees, and C) the more an employee knows, the more money they expect--and companies really don't want to deal with that. Thus, all the complaints about "lack of qualified workers."

  • Jefferson Kalispell, MT
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    To Worf: You state some interesting "facts," but not one of them constitutes "evidence" of an STEM shortage. The fact that "foreigners" live in affluent neighborhoods in the US or make up 1/3rd of our college graduates in no way indicates an STEM shortage. It indicates a very liberal policy towards education and immigration and nothing more. I have 30 years experience in the semiconductor industry. I have worked with a lot of engineers from all over the world. Our company has a strong policy towards importing engineers. At the same time, I have seen layoffs in our cyclical industry render 30% of the workforce unemployed over a 12 month downturn - and many of those more experienced engineers are never re-hired during the upswing. "Cheaper" labor, whether new grads or foreign workers are actively courted instead. The market, not politics will more effectively resolve any real shortage in the labor force. Politics takes a temporary imbalance and makes it permanent.

  • common twit Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    Whether there is a shortage or not, the STEM education in our country is detrimental to our youth. All creativity is being thrown out in order to get STEM forced fed to our students. Although the decline in arts and humanities has leveled somewhat, the hard rule of everyone must be proficient in math is causing huge drop out rates. Our public school systems are requiring more and more math trying to fill this so call shortage. So we take students that don't understand math and don't even have a desire to learn it and make them take more of it. It does not make sense to me.
    Hey. I love STEM but forcing everybody to like it is not a good idea. I remember in college staying up late working on trigonometry and just loving it. But that is not for everyone.

  • Old Scarecrow Brigham City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 5:53 a.m.

    That large numbers of foreign workers are employed in the U.S. in so-called STEM jobs doesn't prove there is a shortage. Foreign-born and foreign-educated workers will take a U.S.-based position because the entry-level wage in the U.S. is superior to what they would be paid at home, and the U.S. standard of living is far higher (taking into account safety / security / health / environment factors compared to India or China, for instance). The result is lower demand and wages for American-born and educated workers in these technical fields, where skills are a measurable commodity and workers are interchangeable, whether in technology or research.

  • VickieB SLC, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 2:24 a.m.

    The H-1B database, showing which companies hire H-1B workers is public, search for it. Most of the visa workers make 30-50k. Nurses, accountants, legal researchers, school teachers, food and beverage managers, etc are all being brought here on the H-1b visa.

    Once you search the database you'll see what a joke this is.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 9:24 p.m.

    There is not a STEM shortage. There might be temporary "spikes" in employment needs, but long term, there is not a shortage. Also, in some years there have been more workers imported on the h-1b visa than jobs were created - meaning, that corporations had lay off of US workers, but still hired foreign workers.

    Studies done from the 1990s to 2011 by respectable organizations such as Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, etc. have shown that there is not a STEM shortage.

    Recently numerous corporations signed a letter to Washington politicians saying that they want massive increases in the h-1b visa. Yet, many of these corporations have already laid off thousands of US workers recently or have announced they are laying off in the near future.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 23, 2013 8:46 p.m.

    Evidence of a STEM shortage:

    * Edison New Jersey area is filled with manufacturing jobs.--Seventy percent of the people are from India, and China.

    * Many affluent areas in our country are made up of people from India, and Oriental countries.

    * A third of our college graduates are from other countries.

    * Engines, and transmissions in American cars are foreign engineered.

    As a retired teacher, and one who has given educational speeches through out the country, IMO- there is a serious shortage.