Is the STEM Crisis a Myth ?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Plutonius, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. Plutonius macrumors 603

    Plutonius

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    #1
    Here is an interesting article discussing why the STEM crisis is a myth. They bring up some very good points / statistics.

    After reading the article, do you agree with it and what's your advice for younger people thinking about a career path ?

    My advice is to do something you enjoy (nothing's worse then working for 40+ years doing work you don't like) :).
     
  2. cfedu macrumors 65816

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    I would advise people to make sure your degree will lead to a good paying job. No point in get a 100k plus degree and have to work for minimum wage.

    Doing a trade is also a better option than some of them a degree that leads to nothing.
     
  3. mrkramer macrumors 603

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    Interesting article, I can't help but wonder if there both is and isn't a shortage. It seems as if companies may be avoiding hiring inexperienced new grads for STEM jobs resulting in there being a shortage of entry level jobs for new grads and many of them pursuing jobs in other fields. And that lack of new graduates receiving on the job training and experience is resulting in a shortage of people able to take the positions that require experience.

    I also think this will be an issue for all industries in the near future. Entry level jobs are the easiest to automate, and that automation leads to short term profits while there are still experienced workers out there, bit as the experienced workers retire you will have a generation that wasn't able to get entry level jobs due to automation who now isn't able to fill the higher level jobs.
     
  4. Septembersrain Contributor

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    I think that rather than there being a shortage of trained professionals it's more that there is a shortage of those willing to take lower pay.

    I imagine the cost for college and time put in here in the USA would discourage taking a starting position where you will be upside down for decades.

    The companies may also be creating an infinite loop. They want experienced workers but the workers need jobs to get experience. Quandary.

    As the article states too, there is no guarantee of a job. So you can put years into it but by the time you are searching, the openings will be filled by H1-B workers already. So you'll either need to take another job in a different field or hold out (Which would be harder if you're a 100k+ in the hole).
     
  5. macfacts macrumors 68000

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    Let's assume that there is a shortage. What that means is there is not enough. It doesn't mean that there are zero skilled workers.

    If Microsoft says it can't find a skilled worker, it should be offering a higher wage so that the skilled worker at IBM will switch. What is wrong about offering higher wages to get your skilled worker?

    When Microsoft gets a non American worker with a h1b visa, they can offer them low pay and the non American won't complain. They won't complain because USA is much better than where they came from. They won't complain because if they get fired, they have to leave USA. They can't stay and try looking for another job is USA.
     
  6. mrkramer macrumors 603

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    Because our economy has become about short term profits for stockholders instead of about long term investments.
     
  7. tunerX Suspended

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    #7
    There is a shortage of qualified individuals and an over abundance of under qualified people with degrees.
     
  8. Septembersrain Contributor

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    Unfortunately so. They take advantage of the workers from other countries by giving them less than their American counterparts and they screw over the typical U.S. worker by either saying they don't have enough experience or low balling them. It's a horrible deal for any except the top brass and stockholders.
     
  9. macfacts macrumors 68000

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  10. VulchR macrumors 68020

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    #10
    I work in STEM. There are a couple of recent trends that are relevant. First, over time the proportion of research funds in the West provided by governments has fallen and the funds provided by the private sector has risen (as have funds from charities, but to a much smaller extent). Second, the Great Recession caused many companies to slash their R&D budgets so they can go for short-term profits. This is particularly true in big pharma, where the pattern has been to acquire smaller companies to obtain their IP rights, and then shut down their research centres. Third, the likelihood of having a grant application be successful has plummeted (in the UK from about 1 out of 4 to 1 out of 10). Fourth, science has become a giant pyramid scheme, with PI's with larger groups gaining ever greater funding at the expense of small labs, even though there is solid evidence that above a certain size labs become inefficient. Right now in science, success in funding begets success in funding, without any consideration whatsoever about whether a research group is efficient with those funds.

    In any case, STEM graduates working in non-STEM jobs is not exactly a waste. STEM graduates are numerate, understand evidence-based reasoning, have technical skills that apply outside the lab (e.g., computer literacy) and generally work hard. Of course they need training to do jobs with which they are unfamiliar, but typically STEM graduates are learning machines.

    Finally, the point of education is to change the person, not provide them with a job. Education is one of the few things that nobody can take from you. I get that if a person spends a lot of money on education, and fails to achieve a good job, that the degree becomes a very expensive form of mental entertainment. However, many people spend huge sums of money pursuing their passion without ever getting a job from it (e.g., hobbies). The point is to recognise the cost of education, what you want from it, and the realistic likelihood of getting it, before you sign on the dotted line. It doesn't hurt to have a plan B as well.
     
  11. LizKat macrumors 68040

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    That may be so. I was startled to get a request for references once for a talented database designer who when he was applying was in at least his mid-50s. Like me, he held a bachelor's degree from a liberal arts school, but was largely company-trained as when he entered the force there were not many CS degreeholders out there and anyone who had some math or finance or whatever even as a lberal arts degree holder was not barred from a shot at a tech job. I was happy to oblige with a reference, since the guy would have been a great addition to any team, in my opinion. The company wrote back to me later saying thanks and he'd turned out to be exactly what they needed.

    This was cool for my friend but it did leave me wondering how younger entrants get the experience they need to end up meeting help-wanted ads that now require experience besides a degree. "Will train on the job" is rarely in the fine print of IT job ads now. Unpaid internships are often a more or less complete ripoff and yet the industries fight tooth and nail against NLRB rules about how they have to be handled.

    Industry wants "something for nothing" from internships, while falsely claiming "something for dirt cheap" is not why they offshore jobs to begin with or try to justify H1-B visas here. There's a bottom for this and it's not pretty, or even sensible. You get what you pay for and it does pay to grow your own expertise in house by taking degreed candidates and training them up. But, as @mrkramer and @Septembersrain noted, industry is not into long term thinking since shareholders tend to have 13-week horizons.

    Hard landing for the planet one of these days unless we elect to turn it around as shareholders. In my optimistic moments I think that might actually happen. At this red hot moment I don't know. Trump's insistence on "America first" doesn't seem to come with any great love for protecting workers from predation by the owners of capital. Deregulation usually runs the other way. Institutional shareholders are not going to press for better care of homegrown labor either.

    It feels like an intractable problem to turn STEM degrees into well paid jobs right from graduation forward. Yet we also hear liberal arts degrees derogated as not worth the money. Either way it seems like industry demands and yet dismisses educational preparation for entry level jobs. Meanwhile it escapes the oligarchs that back in the day, who invented the tech they now rely on were not computer science majors, they were poets and dropouts for Chrissake. Dogs in manger much? They have the jobs; they just don't want to pay a wage for them and furthermore they don't know whom they should be hiring anyway.
     
  12. Technarchy macrumors 603

    Technarchy

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    Any excuse to starve American labor and destroy the middle class through globalism so Mr. CEO can pretend all his profits are due to innovation.

    H1B's are 21st century scabs.
     
  13. Plutonius thread starter macrumors 603

    Plutonius

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    #13
    Many people were going into STEM jobs because of the job security / earnings (neither which seems to apply now). The cost for a STEM degree is very high (lots of debt) so it seems foolish to take it unless you really plan to get and stay in a STEN job.
     
  14. LizKat macrumors 68040

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    True, and i don't understand why the high levels of scorn for liberal arts degrees. For one thing we need people to teach things like history and literature, music, art... the only sure way to retain a civilization is to pass it along in some formal manner and not rely on ability to re-invent the wheel. Necessity might be the mother of invention but it could take millenia for someone to realize again that lack of a wheel was even a problem. Likewise, history. We do learn from some of it. Even the USA offered to buy a few expansions of its territories rather than just try to take them. Because some of us have read about that, we could propose to Trump that he maybe buy Mexico instead of just building a wall LOL...

    It's not enough just to tell STEM majors they need to take a couple courses in the humanities. They need to be able to write literately. I was reading a piece about geospatial engineering and urban planning the other day, and realized it needed a rewrite by someone who actually appreciated what our great cities are for, and have been for, past efficient movement of goods and humans. I wish I could find the damn thing now, although I might fear to quote some of it and end up fetching MacRumors a takedown request even though I'm careful about "fair use". Anyway, what I was reading was just short of incomprehensible, even if on a compelling subject, and it also omitted culturally oriented arguments that might have made it even more compelling. So among other things it bolstered my conviction that we still need instruction in the humanities.
     
  15. tunerX Suspended

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  16. Zenithal macrumors 68040

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    Plenty of STEM graduates. Few of those have the necessary skills to succeed and make it in the world. The remainder got into their field for the money or because their parents pushed them to. They have little desire to learn outside of their course material. Science and tech companies aren't going to hold their hands as they embark into the big boy world.
     
  17. Snoopy4 macrumors 6502a

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    This. The real problem is a lack of common sense and problem solving skills. We also see a lot of what we call robots apply for position. They're on the verge or breaking because they've been so focused on grades they didn't learn anything outside the classroom, like how to communicate with people, but hey, they've got their phone and can text like a mofo.
     
  18. Zenithal macrumors 68040

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    In other words: Chinese students who focus on rote memorization and fail at anything else.
     
  19. AlliFlowers Contributor

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    Hence, a need to return to a more liberal arts education followed by specialized courses and an internship.
     
  20. macsmurf macrumors 65816

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    I have a degree in STEM and work in STEM, although not in the US. I don't know of anyone from my (non-US) university with a degree in STEM that don't work in STEM. Then again, I might not know of the people that leave the fields but I would be very surprised if it's as high as 30%. I had no problem getting a job in STEM, even as a student.

    Maybe this is only a problem in the US? If so, consider going abroad. Then again, the quality of the education might be to blame in which case you're screwed.
     
  21. Zenithal macrumors 68040

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    Do colleges not do general education courses anymore? Or are you suggesting more required classes that deal with humanities?
     
  22. unlinked macrumors 6502a

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    Are unpaid internships a thing for CS students in the US? Any internships/work experience I have heard of here has been paid. Work experience seems a great way to acquire talented people and filter out the fluff but I guess the top tier companies can get people in on reputation only.
     
  23. mrkramer macrumors 603

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    They do, but it seems like for STEM fields they majorly cut back on the required general education courses to make room for more technical ones. I started out in college studying engineering before I decided it wasn't for me, and there were far fewer general education classes that I was required to take than other majors were required to take.
     
  24. Snoopy4, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

    Snoopy4 macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    No, all walks of life.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 5, 2017 ---
    Liberal arts classes aren't the problem. These people are just anti-social because they live in the digital world like it's a legitimate place to exist as a human. Take a person who would have been a "geek" and provide them with a technology that truly allows them to disconnect from face to face human interaction and the results are predictable.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 5, 2017 ---
    That's not the problem. The lack of human interaction outside a classroom is. Technology is good in some respects, others not so much.
     
  25. AlliFlowers Contributor

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    #25
    More required courses that deal with the humanities. Some colleges/programs don't even require a second language anymore.

    Here is difficult to find an internship, let alone one that pays. For decades the only field requiring an internship was education.

    Say what? Your biases never fail to around me.
     

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