Monday, October 20, 2008

What Shortage of Scientists and Engineers?

John Tierney echoes my own thoughts:
If the United States really has a critical shortage of scientists and engineers, why didn’t this year’s graduates get showered with lucrative job offers and signing bonuses?

That’s the question that comes to my mind after reading about Barack Obama’s plans to address the “shortage” we keep hearing about from blue-ribbon commissions of scientists and engineers. He wants to pay for the training of 100,000 more engineers and scientists over the next four years, as my colleagues Bill Broad and Cory Dean note in their excellent analysis of the presidential candidates’ plans to encourage technological innovation.

Now, I’m all in favor of American technological innovation, and I’m glad to see Mr. Obama promising to review the export restrictions that have been so damaging to the aerospace industry (and that were promoted by John McCain because of what he called national-security risks). I’m also all in favor of American scientists and engineers, especially the ones in my family. (My father is a chemical engineer; my brother is an electrical engineer.) I’d love to see American corporations and universities frantically competing to offer them the kind of salaries paid to M.B.A.’s and lawyers.

But employers don’t have to throw around that kind of money because there’s no shortage of workers — and they won’t be increasing their offers if the federal government artificially inflates the labor supply with an extra 100,000 graduates.
Read the whole thing and also see my previous post on the matter: Whither the Engineers?


fboness said...

Any company that whines about a shortage of engineers should be asked, "What did you do with engineers you had?"

You don't let your kids get away with complaining about having no toys when you know they are the ones who broke them.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a large pool of scientists and engineers nearing the edge of retirement? To replace these folks needs either candidates with vast experience or hordes of fresh graduates to handle simplified tasks while they grow up. So how long before an urgent need is expressed should the creation new specialists with a minimum of four year lead time begin?