Shortage of STEM Workers: A Myth

Gene Nelson's picture

By Gene Nelson, Ph.D.

Gene earned a Ph.D. in Natural Science in 1984. He has written extensively about the harm of large-scale immigration to the U.S. He testified twice in the U.S. House of Representatives and twice to the National Academy of Sciences regarding the the controversial H-1B visa program.

The writer's views are his own.

September 21, 2013

Around the world, employer interests long ago determined that an inexpensive way to attract trusting young people into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields is to falsely claim that there is a “looming shortage” of scientists and engineers. Such a public relations approach is far less expensive to employers than raising salaries or improving working conditions.

The August 30, 2013 IEEE Spectrum article, “The STEM Crisis Is a Myth,” provides an excellent post-1934 myth chronology. By attracting young people, the desired talent glut is far more likely. Talent gluts drive down wages and facilitate illegal employment age, gender, disability and national origin discrimination. Low wages maximize the gains for the economic elite.

What is surprising about this article is that its publishers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), have tended to be supportive of the “shortage shouters” to satisfy their corporate sponsors and academia. Academia wants their lecture halls and labs to be full. Since 1990, Americans have become more wary about the lack of STEM career opportunities, so many in academia have turned to third-world students. IEEE’s flagship magazine, IEEE Spectrum, is widely read. The publication of this article implies the employers’ public relations campaign is now encountering strong headwinds, because the workplace experience of millions rebuts the mythical shortage claims.

The more recent twist is to use the false shortage claims as a smoke-screen to facilitate the importation of young males from the developing world into the STEM field. This has been ongoing, particularly since 1990, and has further enhanced corporate profits.

As an example, the recent so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” bill passed by the Senate in June 2013 (S.744) proposes at least a doubling of the importation of STEM workers beyond the already-bloated current levels. Often, experienced American citizen technical professionals are required to train their imported replacements as a condition of receiving their meager outplacement benefits.

You likely know someone whose career has been harmed by these tactics of greedy employer interests. Perhaps it is you, a friend, a neighbor, a child or a grandchild. Please use the citizen engagement tools provided by CAPS to make our elected officials aware of your opposition to any further increases in the importation of higher-skilled workers, like the increased annual caps proposed in S.744.

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