"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Business Roundtable Unrolls Its New Sacred Document

Go here and click the document! Harold McGraw or John Hancock?

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again.
--The Who

Well, the Business Roundtable would fool us over and over and over. Now led by Harold McGraw (how appropriate), the BR is pushing once more to create an oversupply of scientists, engineers, and technicians so that American corporations can pay the best ones dirt and have the rest drive taxis like they do in India. Here is the latest BR Press Release, which, interestingly, shows them now lobbying for the Pentagon:

Washington, DC - Tapping America's Potential (TAP), a coalition of 16 of the nation's leading business organizations, today joined U.S. business and higher education leaders to unveil "The American Innovation Proclamation," which urges Congress to act now on an innovation agenda to maintain U.S. competitiveness. The proclamation, which was delivered to every Capitol Hill office and presented to Members of Congress during a press conference held today, calls for action on four key policy priorities aimed at promoting and sustaining U.S. innovation leadership. More than 270 American business and higher education leaders signed the call to action on innovation.

"American innovation fuels the U.S. economy and helps to enhance our ability to compete in the 21st century global marketplace," said Susan Traiman, Director of Education and Workforce Policy at Business Roundtable, a TAP founding member. "It is vital that Congress move ahead this year on legislation that will allow us to continue our rich tradition of ingenuity."

In addition to the press conference to unveil the proclamation, today's events include a House Science and Technology Committee hearing on innovation and competitiveness. Testifying at that hearing is Harold McGraw III, Chairman, President and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., and Chairman of Business Roundtable. In his prepared remarks, Mr. McGraw stated:

"It is worth noting that the forces driving economic integration and global competition were all invented here. More than any other country, the United States created the conditions for global economic growth driven by accelerated technological innovation. America is in the best position to take advantage of the changing competitive landscape as long as we recognize the challenges we face and make the investments required to succeed in the new environment."

The proclamation calls for Congress to act now to renew America's commitment to discovery by:

  • Doubling the basic research budgets at the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the Department of Defense;
  • Improving student achievement in math and science through increased funding of proven programs and incentives for science and math teacher recruitment and professional development;
  • Welcoming highly educated foreign professionals, particularly those holding advanced science, technology, engineering, or mathematics degrees, especially from U.S. universities, by reforming U.S. visa policies; and
  • Making permanent a strengthened R&D Tax Credit to encourage continued private-sector innovation investment.

In July 2005, the U.S. business community formed the TAP campaign in an effort to ensure that America develops the talented and capable workforce that is needed to meet the growing demands of the ever-changing global marketplace. They set the goal of doubling the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates by 2015, and TAP members have actively worked since that time to advance their agenda with policymakers in Congress and the Administration.

For live Web casts of the press conference and hearing, visit the House Science and Technology Committee Web site at www.science.house.gov. To learn more about TAP and the proclamation, visit www.tap2015.org.

# # #

TAP is composed of 16 prominent business organizations that represent the largest and most innovative companies in America. They have set the goal of doubling the number of U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates with bachelor's degrees by 2015.

Do we need that many engineers and mathematicians?

From the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07:

Employment of mathematicians is expected to decline through 2014 . . .

Overall engineering employment is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations over the 2004-14 period. Engineers have traditionally been concentrated in slow-growing manufacturing industries, in which they will continue to be needed to design, build, test, and improve manufactured products. However, increasing employment of engineers in faster growing service industries should generate most of the employment growth. Overall job opportunities in engineering are expected to be favorable because the number of engineering graduates should be in rough balance with the number of job openings over this period. However, job outlook varies by specialty, as discussed later in this section.

Competitive pressures and advancing technology will force companies to improve and update product designs and to optimize their manufacturing processes. Employers will rely on engineers to further increase productivity as investment in plant and equipment increases to expand output of goods and services. New technologies continue to improve the design process, enabling engineers to produce and analyze various product designs much more rapidly than in the past. Unlike in other fields, however, technological advances are not expected to limit employment opportunities substantially, because they will permit the development of new products and processes.

There are many well-trained, often English-speaking engineers available around the world willing to work at much lower salaries than are U.S. engineers. The rise of the Internet has made it relatively easy for much of the engineering work previously done by engineers in this country to be done by engineers in other countries, a factor that will tend to hold down employment growth. Even so, the need for onsite engineers to interact with other employees and with clients will remain.

Compared with most other workers, a smaller proportion of engineers leave their jobs each year. Nevertheless, many job openings will arise from replacement needs, reflecting the large size of this profession. Numerous job openings will be created by engineers who transfer to management, sales, or other professional occupations; additional openings will arise as engineers retire or leave the labor force for other reasons.

Many engineers work on long-term research and development projects or in other activities that continue even during economic slowdowns. In industries such as electronics and aerospace, however, large cutbacks in defense expenditures and in government funding for research and development have resulted in significant layoffs of engineers in the past. The trend toward contracting for engineering work with engineering services firms, both domestic and foreign, has had the same result.

It is important for engineers, as it is for those working in other technical and scientific occupations, to continue their education throughout their careers because much of their value to their employer depends on their knowledge of the latest technology. Engineers in high-technology areas, such as advanced electronics or information technology, may find that technical knowledge can become outdated rapidly. By keeping current in their field, engineers are able to deliver the best solutions and greatest value to their employers. Engineers who have not kept current in their field may find themselves passed over for promotions or vulnerable to layoffs.

The only two areas of engineering that are expected to exceed average job growth: environmental engineering and biomedical engineering. Is BR advocating more research in these areas? Didn't think so.

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