The STEM shortage myth

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

If you've paid even minimal attention to the news media over the past 5-10 years, you've likely seen stories about the impending shortage of qualified STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) graduates being produced by US schools. CEOs have joined the chorus, providing anecdotes about their inability to find qualified candidates for STEM-related jobs despite fat paychecks and interesting work. Even educators have shifted their focus to STEM, with my son's preschool launching its first formal STEM program, which hopes to instill in my four-year-old the fundamentals of robotics, mathematics, and engineering.

In a recent article for The Atlantic, Michael S. Teitelbaum attempts to debunk the idea that there's a STEM shortage, noting that recent studies indicate US colleges are producing 100-200% more STEM graduates than there are jobs available. He further highlights that there have been nearly a half dozen cries of STEM shortages since WWII, each ending in a glut of STEM-trained people followed by painful and widespread layoffs. According to Teitelbaum, when you cut through the rhetoric, there are shortages in some narrow fields, but no empirical evidence to suggest that STEM is facing a broad and widespread shortage.

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