U.S. colleges are simply not spitting out enough computer scientists and electrical engineers to meet the sheer demand
According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft has more than 6,000 job openings for software developers and engineers that it canít seem to fill.
It would appear U.S. colleges are simply not spitting out enough computer scientists and electrical engineers to meet the sheer demand.
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Whatís worse, according to the piece, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting another 120,000 new jobs this year that will need to be filled by candidates with computer science degrees, while only 40,000 new computer scientists are expected to graduate. Talk about a deficit.
And itís not just computer scientists in high demand, either. The U.S. Labor Department predicts a flood of STEM (science, technology, maths, engineering) jobs (some 1.8 million of them to be precise) will become available by 2018. Thatís a number America canít currently hope to fill with predicted graduates, even when supplemented by the current influx of foreign workers--unless some rather drastic action is taken.
Both presidential candidates are giving a lot of lip service to the need for more science teachers and a greater focus on STEM in schools, with new federal programs being set up to do just that. So far, $1 billion in taxes is being set aside to fund the initiative, which, despite how it sounds, is not particularly significant. But at least itís something.
The school boards seem to be taking steps in the right direction, too, with indications that STEM will be introduced to kids at an earlier age, in some cases even in pre-school.
But how much of an impact will it make? And Is it enough to solve the talent deficit within the next five to 10 years? If not, whatís the solution?
Bert, you're right: An HR person for a large corporation told me that most all job postings are, in fact, phoney, in order to immunize them from "diversity" complaints: The interviews are just pro-forma, with the actual hires coming from in-house referrals.
One variation of this is in the NFL with the so-called "Rozelle Rule:" It states that whenever there is a head coach opening, the owners must "interview" at least one qualified Black candidate.
If our recruiting practices during WWII were like they are now, we would have lost the war. How many women were hired with no experience or training to work in factories building materials for the war effort? It is like someone who is being picky about their food - they are just not hungry.
Companies seem to be unwilling to hire someone who does not have the exact education, age, salary requirements and experience. The NSF has been complaining about an engineering shortage for at least 20 years. I don't believe it.
Ronald Reagan once famously said, "If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less, tax it." What we have today with government subsidized student loans is that half of graduating seniors have no jobs yet are saddled in debt: We subsidized all these Art History, Woman's Studies, and Music majors -- And got plenty of them -- while Engineering graduates are entertaining multiple job offers, and students in the other sciences are starting their good-paying jobs the Monday after they receive their diplomas.
The solution to getting a flood of new Engineers & Scientists ("STEM") starting in just four years is simple: Let the artificial 3% Government-backed student loan interest rate subsidy expire and revert to 6%; while cutting the interest rate to 1% for students who graduate with a degree in Engineering, **effective upon graduation** This will instantly have two beneficial effects:
(1) It will nudge more students into Engineering & the Sciences with a true subsidy for skills we need;
(2) It will help gently deflate the college "bubble," currently at over $1 trillion in outstanding student loans, pushing out those Liberal Arts students getting worthless degrees in the process -- The good students will transfer to take advantage of the better subsidies, while the slackers get to flip burgers without wasting taxpayer money for their (all-but) useless degree.
Editor, The Hearing Blog
Cherry Hill, NJ
I'm not sure where everyone else on here is getting their information. I graduated with a BSEE in 2008 from a good but not great Midwestern university. Everyone I know from my class has a job in engineering. And we were the class of 2008, right as the economy started to tank. My GPA was only 2.8, definitely not in the top 25%, but I managed to get a job offer before I graduated. I did have one company refuse my resume for a sub-3.0 GPA, but other than that I had no problem finding a job.
My wife's experience was the same as mine. She graduated with an Aerospace degree in 2008 from the same school. All of her friends had jobs immediately (she had her full time offer before she even started her senior year, and her GPA was 2.6). Several of her friends were laid off in early 2009, but all but one of them found new engineering jobs immediately.
I really don't see the bleak situation that everyone else on here sees. I do agree that computer resume screenings are a problem, but I really don't think that anyone receiving an engineering degree is wasting their time or money.
There is no shortage in a free market. A company can always hire as many people as they want. If a company says it cannot fill positions, what it really means is that it cannot fill those positions at the salaries they wish to pay.
@Bert: "My conclusion is, these supposed long lists of job offerings is only a ploy to appease the politicians, to keep them in your good graces. And/or, an excuse to hire lower cost H1B visa candidates."
I think you've hit the nail on the head there....
And it could be worse than some might think. Where I went as an undergrad, the class average for EEs was C. Deliberately so, to weed out those who weren't working hard enough. Which meant that when you looked at the grades posted on the profs' doors, there wasn't any list of As and Bs, as you saw for most other majors. We used to laugh about it.
So a 2.7 is not half bad, when you consider that the vast majority of entering EE freshmen switched to another major, and never got that EE degree.
The current hiring situation is very strange. I'm convinced the job postings are mostly phoney, mostly there for ulterior motives.
To put it more simply, what do you say to a young graduate who just completed an engineering degree and has a 2.7 GPA? "I'm sorry you wasted your time and money."
Now if he or she could just get that first engineering job, the GPA will no longer matter and future job opportunities will look at work experience and skills. But when looking for that first job, the GPA matters. It's one of the most important things on that resume.
But Sylvie, it's more than just salaries that push some young degreed engineers into other fields -- it's lack of opportunity to even work as an engineer at any salary if they are not the best and the brightest.
research90 asked an important question, "what should we do with those average engineers?" He says the average GPA at UC Berkeley for EECS majors is 2.7. That's enough to graduate and get the degree, but not enough to get a job offer -- except perhaps from a company the student has interned with, who already sees value in him or her regardless of the low GPA.
When these young engineers finally graduate, most of them have student loans that they soon need to start paying back. They need to work, and if not in their chose field, then at some other job, any job. The longer they are out of school and not working as engineers, the less likely it is that they will EVER work as engineers.