jwilkins1, I agree with you about work ethic. I have told my children that the way my generation differentiated themselves was through education. That's not the case anymore. Everyone gets an education, and 4-year universities are more than willing to churn out graduates (for the price of admission!) Now, just one generation later, the big driver will not be education, but work ethic. I am teaching my children, foremost, to be hard workers. I expect that with that, they will be able to succeed in the work force.
High school STEM students have many college options and work options. So do college level STEM students. But they do not WANT to work in high tech factories in many cases.
In 1990's we found that many Berkelely EE-CS PHD students actually planned to go on to Wharton School of Finance and become Wall Street techie-analysts. Few PhD's really ever wanted to work in a factory it seemed. (Its worse now of course, and engineers need education at highest level to get any kind of job in this market.)
Technical companies will not hire the "STEM" students in lower half of their class it seems, thus the 50 percent number? [Asian STEM students don't mind factory work as part of their career path.] So its not about wages, its about real skill levels and real goals on both sides in my opinion. And with massive automation now days, fewer engineers are needed in operations, more in design and applications support.
Reality: Only the very best get big money jobs as scienctists or engineers. But non-technical CEO's do very well. So communications, finance and language skills may be more important in future than advanced technical degrees. And since that is well known, we can expect continuing HIB searches and lots of layoffs as companies search for the "best and brightest."
My advice to STEM students? Learn two languages. Learn public speaking. Learn at least one useful computer language, like Python or R. Get a trade skill while still in high school, keep it up to date as an option during bad times.
I suspect that industry prefers to hire foreign workers with H-1B visas for a very simple reason--they'll work for lower wages. I can't quote statistics to prove this, but IEEE can. Compared to lawyers, engineers are significantly underpaid. Maybe our lawyer-politicians who vote for increasing H-1B visa quotas instead should open immigration to foreign lawyers who would probably work for half as much as the typical domestic law shool grad.
I was a graduate student in the late 1960s at Princeton University's Gas Dynamics Laboratory. One quarter, i.e. 10 of the total of 40 graduate students in the Lab were from Taiwan. All were on US government sponsored scholarships such as Fulbrights. These programs were intended to educate foreign nationals to improve their home country's economy as a bulwark against Communist expansion. However, none of these foreign students had any desire to return home to Taiwan. In fact, they spent most of their spare time trying to figure out how to avoid going home, aided and abetted by faculty members who were also from Taiwan. Besides, the subject of study was high-speed gas dynamics, i.e. rocket science. Taiwan needed rice farmers, not rocket scientists. Things may be different now, 45 years later, but I"ll bet most foreign tech workers here on H-1B visas have no intention of returning to their native country.
I think that Steve989 and Bruce143 have given the most cogent reasons for the problem. One being that STEM does not mean just engineering, but also other disciplines that are less in demand. The other is that companies think short-term.
This latter even has a hyped-up name assigned to it. People actually brag about it. It's called "lean plus," and has many corporate execs up in a twitter, as they tend to get with any trendy managerese buzzword du jour that they create.
The concept of lean plus is that a company should not spend money for things that their customer is not willing to pay for. So for example, you organize the work into different tasks, and then you hire one expert for each necessary job function only. No one is ever idle, no excess fat.
The result is that companies don't have depth anymore. Young grads who should be in a sort of apprenticeship don't much exist now. You get hired on as the expert for some job function, and you're the only one to do that part of the job. Because any other solution would drive up your overhead rates and make you uncompetitive!!
STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In other words it is encompassing of a lot of programs - Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Biology, Mathimatics, AA degrees in electronic techniques. Outside of engineering, I doubt there is much emphasis in hiring.
As far as education - let me pose a question - how many engineering progtrams are designed to weed out weaker students, early? I took a beginning course, on-line, from a University of California school - it was the most repulsive, difficult computer course I have taken in my life, with nearly impossible asignments for a beginner, including sample code snipettes that were not even in any text. And please note I have a PhD in chemistry, so I am not an idiot.
So, to me, the article has merit in that it considers all of science - and there are not many jobs in the S part of STEM. The education system may or may not be failing us - but like any industry, it has to maintain a market.
Our company experience 2 years ago, looking for c++ programmers, entry level OK if talented, the H1B prevailing minimum wage in Chicago was about 70k(for 3+ years exp),
we got 12 responses on Monster , (WHERE ARE ALL THOSE STEMS?)
the 2 entry level guy, said they did many Java and C++ courses for 4 years BS CompSci, could barely write few lines of code, had never heard of reentrant thread functions and I did not bother to verify veracity of thier college claims,
the others 10 w/ 3+ years experience all needed H1B's and were asking 80k+
WHERE ARE ALL THOSE STEMS?
Good luck finding those STEMS if you are trying to hire