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?
There is both supply and demand. More supply is available at a higher price so it is impossible that those 6,000 positions cannot be filled by qualified people. Those 6,000 openings must be for qualified engineers that are willing to take a lower salary.
Honestly, I think the corporations are putting on a big PR show, with their supposed job listings. And that includes my own, by the way.
It's almost comical. We are told on the one hand that the work force in my area is decreasing, and at the same time we are being offered amazing bonuses if we can attract new hires with x, y, z qualifications, for work in this area. But they need candidates with precisely 10 years experience in certain specific fields, and they are hiring only at a specific engineer level code. Doesn't that seem ridiculous? It does to me! Since when do corporations hire people with such narrow view?
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 both make excellent points, and in fact I think a lot has to do with salaries. if salaries were higher for STEM jobs, engineers would fill them, rather than going to the financial sector or places they could earn more.
Good points research90. I would love to see the statistics on the number of STEM graduates that actually work in a STEM field.
Everyone knows that the top graduates -- those with the highest GPAs -- get the best offers. But what is often overlooked is that many of the middle-of-the-road graduates get no offers at all. I suspect that most of them end up going into an unrelated field, possibly going back to school to pursue something else -- business, law or whatever.
Of course it's not just GPA that counts. Summer internships, on-campus research -- anything that resembles work experience in a STEM field helps alleviate the negative impression of a less-than-stellar GPA. But most companies will set a minimum GPA requirement for on-campus interviews. If you don't meet that, you can't talk to them.
It looks like many US companies are all looking to hire the top 25% of the CS graduates from top schools, then cry there is not enough 25% to hire. I totally disagree with your assumption of your question: I don't believe graduating more students from STEM program will solve the problem. Most of the people not going into STEM programs now are not likely to be good STEM graduates. (Let me ask you this: What's the percentage of lawyers do you think have the talent to study STEM?)
My son graduated from UC Berkeley EECS, majoring in CS, this summer. He talked to MSFT in spring, but didn't get invited to HQ for further interview. (FYI: Berkeley EECS average GPA is 2.7. And my son's is around that.)
I don't know how good MSFT is expecting from its new hires. But I know my son is better in skills than most of my coworkers 20 years ago, when we are most competitive in the world.
Even if MSFT can hire the most talented CS people around the world to work for it, what should we do with other people? It is not obligated to hire anyone from any school. But if an average Berkeley CS graduate is not good enough for MSFT (or Google, FB, etc.), what should we do with those average engineers?