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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Are STEM employment opportunities "tremendous"?

Sent to US News and World Report

In "The Latest Tools for Teaching STEM: Video Games," (Nov. 11), Karen Cator of the Digital Promise company is quoted as saying that "We must engage many more Americans in developing their STEM expertise because the opportunity to find gainful employment is tremendous."  Articles are now appearing regularly in the popular and professional press reporting that there is no shortage of STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) workers in the US. In fact, there is a surplus. 

For example, Rutgers University professor Hal Salzman has concluded that there are approximately three qualified graduates annually for each science or technology opening and according to the Atlantic (Feb, 2013), the United States is producing more Ph.D.s in science than the market can absorb.  Also, about 1/3 of college-bound high-school students take calculus, and only abour 5% of jobs require this much math.

I am all for improved science and math education, but it is not at all clear employment opportunities in STEM are "tremendous."

Stephen Krashen

Some sources:

Salzman, H. & Lowell, B. L. 2007. Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1034801
Salzman, H. and Lowell, L. 2008. Making the grade. Nature 453 (1): 28-30.
Salzman, H. 2012. No Shortage of Qualified American STEM Grads (5/25/12) http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-foreign-stem-graduates-get-green-cards/no-shortage-of-qualified-american-stem-grads.
See also:
Teitelbaum, M. 2007. Testimony before the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, November 6, 2007
Percent of jobs requiring calculus: Handel, M 2010. “What Do People Do at Work? A Profile of U.S. Jobs from the Survey of Workplace Skills, Technology, and Management Practices (STAMP)” (OECD, forthcoming).
1/3 of college-bound high school students take calculus:

Original article: http://www.usnews.com/news/stem-solutions/articles/2013/11/11/the-latest-tool-for-teaching-stem-video-games

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