I am not sure I know the answer to your question. I was surprised to see the numbers of projected graduates exceed the potential jobs count. Our industry's constant message is that it cannot find enough engineers to fill the positions. Maybe in future it is going to change?
In my line of work, in the last few years we were able to fill several positions with well qualified recent graduates, without resorting ot H1B program.We also have an intern program with local engineering school. From what I see, the qualification and motivation of the interns is quite high.
Being a past H1B holder myself, I want to assure you that it is by no means a "low cost" source of employees: it is quite a hassle for a company to jump through legal hoops to sponsor a visa, and they have to show that they are going to pay a prevailing wage. However, it is harder for H1B holders to leave the job, which makes them more stable employee base.
@alex: it is quite a hassle for a company to jump through legal hoops to sponsor a visa... However, it is harder for H-1B holders to leave the job, which makes them more stable employee base.
I had a coworker who was on H-1B. The company was taking care of all the legal hoops to get him a green card, which was quite expensive. If he left the company volontarily, he would have had to pay back all the legal expenses, which were in the US$10Ks. He was eventually let go in a downsizing, but was actually happy about it because he could then go to a different job without having to reimburse the company.
This aspect of H-1B creates a large number of indentured servants, who are stuck in their jobs doing whatever tasks are assigned to them. Poor-quality companies love it, because they don't have to worry about keeping work interesting or paying a fair wage for the work.
One would have hoped that indentured servitude would have died out with the [American] Revolution.
From what I read, there are plenty of high-quality, experienced engineers out there but too many companies would rather have cheaper ones. There are also too many universities graduating too many students, leaving many stuck with horrific debts and no job.
Fortunately, this kind of unhealthy arrangement is not open-ended: either an employee gets his green card and is eventually free to go, or he realises that the company is dragging its feet on this proccess, and finds himself another employer where the visa could be transferred (although it is a painful process).
In my case, I got a GC in 3 years and had no obligations to stay. I still work there, anyway :)
In the real world of aquiring talent, 10K per employee is peanuts. The idea that 10K is such a large hurdle that keeps companies from hiring H-1Bs flies in the face of what recruitment costs are. What does it cost to relocate an employee from another part of the country? When I was at Hughes Aircraft Company and they decided to move their engineering from California to Arizona they gave every engineer a 30K relocation package and valuable employees were given extras under the table. That was in 1994 after the devastation of the defense industry when people should have been willing to move themselves to keep their jobs. With inflation what is 30K worth today - 50 , 80, or 100K?
You don't know so just pull some number out of the air? The companies that hire them have HR staff who know how to do the paperwork. It isn't like they need to hire an immigration lawyer. They just have to fill out some forms and pay some small fees.
Do you really think a company doing thousands of these uses an attorney for each application? You were likely their one of a very few cases and part of what they did with you was related to a green card and not the H-1B visa. The companies doing thousands are not going to start the green card process until they decide they really care if you stay or not.
Maybe some of you are old enpough to remember this but when the H-1B visas were started in the 1990s, there was an article in one of the IEEE publications. Some EE submitted an appplication for a H-1B visa with a salary that was what the minimum wage would be over a year. It was processed and accepted. When the noise became so lousd the government finally responded. They said that they couldn't do anything since the paperwork was in order.
Some tightening of the requirements has occurred since then. But anybody who thibnks some government cubicle sloth who's pay is related to how many of these applications gets processed is going to carefully scruituinize these applications to make sure Americans aren't being shafted is delusional.
I live in Los Angeles, there are signs everywhere in Spanish for immigration lawyers for the illegal aliens. If immigration lawyers were costly none of these Spanish speaking illegals could afford them. There was what 5 billable hours on your applications?
In addition, what they tell the employee that their cost is is likely a lie to keep the employee afraid. Just like limited partnership real estate scammers, the general partner can produce "receipts" for anything he wants to show the limited partners that there are no profits to split up, the "maintainance" costs (his maintainance company) has eaten up all the profits..
Do you really think the government that does not want to catch or deport illegal aliens, even if they are criminals is really going to go through these applications with a fine toothed comb to find misrepresentations? What will they do, the same as when they catch a whole company full of illegals, demand a big fine for the media and settle with the company on the sly for 10 cents on the dollar.
Why are we as practicing Scientists & Engr.s falling for all the white noise being put out by the Corp.s, Politicians and their PR people re: Supply & Demand of STEM grads ? Are n't we supposed to be clear - headed enough to look at confusing ( " purposely " ? ) data and extract the true root cause for problems ? Isn't that what we do most of the time at work ? The truth is that US Corp.s, their MBAs and their Wall St. Money Managers take the domestic customer base ( thats us ) for granted, they want the extra profit by spreading into fresh markets overseas. To do so competitively they need to cut costs and one way to do so is create a surplus of STEM grads here so salaries can be driven down / import H1 B Visa holders who would not demand a fair wage. Yet US Corp.s want to maintain their HQs in the US as their Sr. Executives and their families want to enjoy the safe and predictable lifestyle in the US. Given such a situation we must ask ourselves can we afford to remain above the fray or do we have to alter our own priorities and behavior to protect our own marketability and maintain a predictable lifestyle for our own families.
Don't think following the AMA's tactics is going to work for Scientists & Engr.s because we don't quite have the same leverage as MDs. But there are still quite a few other things we can do :
1. Engr.s are one of the most passive group among professionals, we can't remain sitting ducks any more. Need to take charge of our future, get more involved in policy making
2. Raise subscription and fund very high quality studies on Corporate behavior, labor policy,past history, role of finance, Govt. interaction, true demand for STEM grads, etc. Comparison of US industry with Germany etc. Gap analyses on a solid Engr. footing.
3. Publicize these findings, Fight on the ground where we have a natural advantage - Data. When it comes to data-driven argument who can beat Scientists and Engr.?
4. Hold debates both online and at various State legislatures Do not let opponents confuse / get away with spurious arguments
5. Get your local Politicians to pitch in, make them walk the talk, rate them according to friendliness to US workers. name & shame
When you stayed in a company for your entire career (more often) that made sense, businesses were more apt to invest in their employees and think long term. With employees changing jobs more it has started a spiral in which businesses do less for their employees and the employees have to job hop to do better. And with businesses looking at employees as expeses instead of profit centers the feelings are mutual.
Interesting article, but unfortunately it's an article pushing for immigration reform. As such, it conflates two totally different discussions: the need to attract capable STEM talent and the much bigger problem of uncontrolled, illegal immigration.
Still, though, it cannot be impossible to confirm or deny that half of young STEM graduates cannot find STEM jobs?
I think you mean prevailing wage and plenty of articles have show that companies have a variety of dodges they use to pay H-1Bs less than the prevailing wage, In addition, their mere presence creates a downward pressure on wages throughout the industry.
You might be right about the pressure, but in my experience, in R&D field hiring managers are more concerned about qualification than about the salary. They would much rather hire an equally qualified local to save themselves the pain of going through the visa process. Maybe in services/IT the picture is different.
Carolyn - after reading your article I immediately clicked on the link to see the summary and was surprised at the quote "In computer and information science and in engineering, U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students than are hired into those fields each year; of the computer science graduates not entering the IT workforce, 32 percent say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, and 53 percent say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations." One wonders where, exactly, are those better jobs?? I can't think of any entry-level job that pays better than engineering. OTOH, I have advised every college student in our family to at least consider engineering -- even if they don't think they want to be an engineer, as it is a great background for almost any other career.
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.
In the 1990s the PhDs went to Wall Street becuase salaries for science and engineering talent had not kept pace with the rest of the business world and they could make far more money on Wall Street. Most engineers and scientists are not on the factory floor, they are in R&D labs or developing the prototypes that will be put into production. If the pay in engineering what was what it should be, they would still be at the company R&D facilities and not on Wall Street.
MClayton0 wrote "Technical companies will not hire the "STEM" students in lower half of their class it seems, thus the 50 percent number?"
I wonder what the GPA distribution is for STEM graduates across the U.S. Whether or not this 50% statistic is valid (50% not getting STEM jobs), I think your point is valid and I suspect there is a strong correlation between GPA and probability of STEM employment for a new graduate. In a tight job market, how many companies will hire a new engineering grad who was a B & C student, when there are so many new engineering grads who were A & B students? Even worse, for those who end up taking a job in another field, the more time that passes since college graduation, the less likely it is that they will ever work in a STEM field, despite having a STEM degree.
I agree that there are many jobs in finance that pay better than engineering jobs. But is Wall Street hiring a bunch of engineers? It seems like some different training would be required in most cases.
Financial services (not just "Wall Street") are a much larger part of the US economy than they used to be, and they do employ a fair amount of technical talent. My neighbor is a vice president at a credit union. He tells me they are always hiring software, computer hardware, network, and IT professionals. In addition he found that engineers make excellent "financial analysts" (even with little to no special financial traning), and he hired three recent engineering graduates just for their ability to data mine and find trends in statistics of loan and credit card operations. I also know a coworker whose son just graduated this May with a degree in business IT and started at $68,0000/yr. Business IT is probably not classified as a STEM major, but it seems to pay a lot more than say, a BS in biology, that is considered STEM.
@any1- wow. that is very interesting. I am really surprised to hear your neighbor say that engineers make excellent financial analysts without any special training. I mean, engineers are smart and I don't doubt that they make good financial analysts and that they could do a lot of other things well, too. I just figured that with so many people going to school specifically to get a job like that, it's a bit of a surprise to see that a bank would consider hiring a freshly minted engineer who has not studied for that field. I guess I'm glad to know that an engineering graduate has that option open to him or her, but that sounds kind of ominous for the profession, if that avenue and presumably big money are open to them.
@mcgrathdylan - These freshly minted engineers at the credit union aren't bundling securties or overseeing mergers and acqusitions, they are just trying to identify what characteristics can be found that can predict certain behaviors of the credit union customers - like defaulting on a loan, not paying the full balance on their credit card, etc. If the credit Union can identify which of their customers will have certain tendencies (based on data that the credit union has on their past behaviors, or demographics, or whatever other pertinent data they might have about them) they can optimize their lending practices, or learn to attract certain kinds of new clients (more profitable ones), etc. These engineers are mostly just following the money. This helps the credit union understand the dynamics of their internal money flow and where, why and how they are making or losing money, and what rates they should be charging for various services. The credit union has correctly assumed that it is much harder to teach complex data analysis skills than it is to teach a few relatively simple accounting concepts.
It used to be that companies had a staff of engineers with levels of experience ranging from new hires to the principal level. As engineers advanced within the company, new hires would be brought in for re-staffing. This system worked well, especially for engineers just starting out. A new engineer typically had a mentor, and management was patient and thoughtful in regards to their development. It also helped ensure the company remained successful over the long term. That's all changed with the poor economy and added pressure from global competition. Companies now focus on the short term; whether it be for survival or to satisfy investors. With the "everything has to be done tomrrow" mode of operation, companies no longer have the luxury of developing talent. As a result, companies are staffing with experienced engineers, only. So it's the new grads that are suffering now, but eventually as engineering staffs age, the companies themselves will feel the consequences as there will be a scarce amount of experienced engineers available to fill openings.
@Steve989- very interesting take. Sounds like another example of US companies focused on short term quarterly earnings rather than taking the long view. And really, it's not the fault of the companies themselves but the system. One earnings miss costs investors dearly and companies bend over backward to avoid that. I like how you mention that this focus soley on experienced staff will eventually come back to bite them. What I would be interested in is whether young US engineers are going to other countries to look for work in light of this trend.
Outside of a few elite programs, engineering schools cover only the most basic topic. Some of the problems include the university's focus on research and incompetent professors with tenure. This results in graduates having little practical knowledge after graduation. This requires that hiring manager invest many years into training the new grad that might or might not be capable of advanced engineering work. For good reason they choose the less risky alternative and hire an immigrant with an advanced degree and years of experience for not much more. Limiting H1-B visas won't help as it will just increase the use of offshore development centers and completely destroy the engineering industry in the US.
An even more fundamental problem is that public school education is so poor that HS graduates can barely read and write. This clearly impacts their ability to understand complex engineering and scientific texts. Also many students lack passion for engineering and simply select the program because liberal arts graduates fare much worse. In my childhood I spent many years designing and building electronic circuits, including fully-functional computers. Today kids have very little spare time to pursue interests like electronics, and their passion for independent learning is quashed in public schools.
Not only are these problems not being addressed, they are becoming much worse. Massive government spending on education programs crowd out private sector solutions. Parents cannot spend time with their kid to help them develop their interests due to the fact they both need to work long hours to make ends meet.
One solution is to homeschool, or for working parents to pool their resources and hire retired engineers and scientists to tutor their kids.
Most of the work done by H-1Bs is not high level work requiring special talent. It is low level garbage like "software test". I know I did this work before I retired to stay employed after the defense blow out of the 1990s. Anybody with an AA degree in CS and some decent ability could do what I did and I had an MS. We hired plenty of H-1Bs, to do even less sophisticated work that never actually looked at the underlying hardware and stayed at the high level language level.
Some high school systems are great in getting the STEM kids to also take special trade skill classes and team problem solving, as well as the basics. There are cities making progress at supporting local startups with skills they need. Its a mixed bag, but the educational experiment is continuing in some cities. The social media is picking up on that, so there will be pressure in cities that are lagging....globally.
I know that a lot of people believe that this is simply a matter of US companies wanting H1B engineers because they can pay them less. Personally I think that is oversimplifying a complex issue a bit. But if that really is the reason, it amounts to reverse offshoring. In fact, it's worse.
I'm not extremely familiar with the H-1B Visa program, and my industry experience is fairly limited, but I'm wondering if the assumptions made might be skewing how we're thinking about this. For example, it sounds like the assumption is that employees on an H-1B visa did not receive education from a US university, and I didn't think that was the case.
With that, it eliminates option 1 (Training) from the possible answers. And as for option 3 (Cost), I don't think it's an inexpensive process. That leaves one available option -- work ethic. We've reached the entitlement generation, where everyone "deserves" a college education, but nobody wants to put in work beyond it.
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.
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
You took the words right out of mouth, realtimeshary. As soon as I saw that name I knew this had to ba agenda oriented. And that leads to another question: If this is known why not present to us readers a point of view (in this case an employment study) from a contrasting or alternate source/point of view?
Another reader (Alex S) has already posted a link pointing with an opposite conclusion citing the Bureau of Labor Stats , Census Bureau and the rt. wing Brookings. This is more in line with our experience of the ground reality difficulty of hiring STEMs in the market place
Oh btw, if you google at who funds "Economic Policy Institute" cited in the article, 29% of the it's funds come from Trade Unions , not to disparage TUs, many have realized that immigration fuels growth helps them more, but some botch the data.
The web site above by the NSF tabulates the undergrads and grads by hard numbers sliced diced many ways colleges / ethnicity etc. Not very hard for a think tank to cross - check and refute, but none can because it's correct and open information.
none of the posts here are from unemployed lamenting joblessness, but from employees lamenting salaries, and anti-protective trade in the labor market,(look at protectyive medical labor marlet - great for the docs, not the consumer) . Mine is an actual experience of an actual mid size busniess unable to hire due to lack of supply.
Wadhwa has been a shill for more visas forever since he fronts for Indian outsourcing companies. If what he says were true then the US would be falling behind the rest of the industrial world. As far as I can see there is no evidence of that and in medical device technology I doubt there is any country close to us in as many different areas.
Realistically, it proves my point all the more, wages in the industry are generally higher than other industries requiring same level of education, because of lack of supply. Some estimate of equilibrium wage levels are what the Dept of labor stipulates for "prevailing wage" minimums
2)Temping in every industry commands a higher premium to compensate for lack of permanency, (whatever that means). I have temped too at those levels in the late 90's when the tech economy was booming, You did not mention if 70/hr was for a one needing a H1 sponsor or US citzen/perm resident.
Also certain niche skills/industries also command a premium. We are not talking outliers here, but averages.
No, you prove my point. You remind me of the Silicon Valley tech firm that offered me only 55K during the tech boom in Silicon Valley (1997). Even though cost of living was off the charts, this company said, "Our wage scales are fair and reasonable." Two years on I found a more realistic wage (65K).
I made 75K as a perm (not temp) at Cisco, in 2000, for crying out loud.
"Be realistic" means "Pay what you need to to attract talent".
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.
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!!
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.
Their sole purpose was to stop the big increases in engineering salaries happening in the 80s. If US universities are so bad, then why do foreign students flock to them? If US engineers are so bad then why isn't the US being left behind? Most of the time when US companies fell behind, like in the automotive industry in the 70s, it wasn't the engineers. It was the business school trained managers with degrees in finance who wanted things made cheaply and uniformly (cadillacs with chevy motors) to take advantage of "economies of scale". How did all those lousy US engineers produce so much of what we take for granted today in the electronics and software world? Did somebody just flick a switch and every US student became an idiot?
I've seen people get laid off and I've seen outsourced workers hired on H1B visas to replace them. I believe it is pure economics - a money saving arrangement. If H1B workers were paid the prevailing labor rates and if the domestic workers were provided the job training that the visa workers receive, H1B visas would disappear (or at least shrink significantly). As it is, the H1B workers provide low cost labor - and if they return to their native land, they may bring home the expertise they gained during their "paid 9internship" in the USA. Too many skilled workers are still unemployed. I'd like to see an honest effort made to fill domestic jobs with domestic labor.
1) I should be able to buy the best quality product at the cheapest price. But dont simply want to give that choice to the companies who make them!!... I want to buy the best smartphone/tablet/whatever at 0/99/?? $ . But I also want these companies to pay me a very good salary to design/develop parts of this. The companies shouldnt be given a choice on who they hire to develop these products.
2) I /my company should be able to develop/sell products to rest of the world and make every penny out of them. Be it Intel CPU/Apple Computers /MSWindows /Boeing Aircraft/Meat products/Google Search/whatever. But the rest of the world shouldn't be let to make any penny out of me. Atleast not from developing these products, which I intend to sell them.
when people finally wake up and switch on their brains, they might feel it surprising that globalisation has caught on, and the world is a free place for everyone(including corporates) to choose. And by the same token, that companies, local and foreign, are forced to compete on features and price with each other (like Apple and Samsung), some times STEM graduates will have to compete on salary and productivity even if its not very enjoyable.
A country isn't a giant job fair. Intel and Apple didn't just pop up out of the ground. A lot of their ability to prosper is because the people of the US put a tremendous amount of resources into developing our infrastructure and research facilities. The management of corporations used to recognize they had a responsibility to the communities that helped them grow. Now they want to goose the stock up so they can cash their options out and who cares what happens after they are gone.
"Intel and Apple didn't just pop up out of the ground. A lot of their ability to prosper is because the people of the US put a tremendous amount of resources into developing our infrastructure and research facilities"
Ok then keep your products only in US and dont export it to take money from rest of the world. The rest of the world will find another way. Just as China replaced Google' with Baidu Other companies can be replaced.
There would be no need for visas then, All people will have jobs in their own country then. Wouldn't that be cool. Oh BTW let us know how many jobs you sustained after doing this.
Carolyn Mathas : Why Aren't Our STEM Graduates Hired yet? Don't the world owes them a living? Shouldnt we protect the jobs and take all the wealth from rest of the world with the products we make??
Carolyn, When you wake up, Tell Johnny and Janie to work hard, and be better, faster and more productive than the rest, to make a living.
"Intel and Apple didn't just pop up out of the ground. A lot of their ability to prosper is because the people of the US put a tremendous amount of resources into developing our infrastructure and research facilities."
This sounds reminiscent of the President's "You didn't build that" remark. However, how much of this infrastructure would have been built without the hundreds of billions of dollars the "people of the US" collect annually from corporations like these (and their shareholders)?
The infrastructure was built during the Cold War and preceeds much of the electronics indistry. In addition, much of it kept the US semiconductor industry afloat when it was about to go under due to dumping by Japan and South Korea. How many people remember that Intel almost went bankrupt until IBM chose the 8088 for the PC, aquired 25% of the company and forced a second source contract with AMD on them.
I was there in the defense industry when massive amounts of government money were pumped into radiation hardening research and the very high speed integrated circuit program by DARPA. I image a lot of that money went to Intel and other US semiconductor manufacturers. It is a partnership not a one way street.
I fear that this report presents yet another piece of antecdotal evidence of an ominous trend: that more and more STEM graduates are going into professional athletics or the entertainment industry. It's Dean Kamen's worst nightmare. :)
I don't know how the situation in the US is, but a similar thing is happening in the EU. Local engineering graduates are having a hard time getting a job because there are always engineers from the next less well off country who will work for a minimal worker's wage (even with working experience). Distances are small in Europe and there are no borders.
Government in my country doesn't seem to be conerned as long as the low cost workforce keeps the industry competitive. They don't seem to mind the jobless engineers on wellfare support that the government paid to educate and train (most engineering studies have no tuition fee). How does that make a profit for the country? I only see gain for "big" companies married with politics.
Meanwhile 30% of my university class emigrated to search for better oppurtunities and repeat the cycle in a better off country.
There will always be obvious disruptions caused by lower-cost goods or labor entering a market. What is more difficult to identify however are the overall benefits to an economy as a whole accruing from the associated cost savings to companies and consumers. Focusing only on the former and ignoring the latter is bad economics.
This is done to simply to keep the costs down by depressing all wages. All employers claim (to varying degrees of truthfullness) that they pay H1B visa holders and US citizents the same amount of money for the same job. Even when this is true, this is used as an excuse to pay everybody less. By doing this, the employers avoid the accusation of using H1B holders as cheap labor, and simultaneously get to pay other employees at the same level as H1B employees. What a way to double dip!
Without any H1B visas, the wages will rise in the US, and eventually a balance of supply and demand will be established. More STEM graduates will be hired, but everybody (recent graduate or not) will make more money. And most importantly, there will be no shortage of well trained employees. The companies respond that without the H1B visas, they will have move some jobs overseas. These is partial truth in that, but they have been doing that anyway even with abondant number H1B employees. Some companies have learned that the cheap labor overseas is often worth only what you paid for it. So the smart ones start hiring here even if the wages are higher.
You got it. When I worked in engineering, my company had probably about 50% of its engineers on H1B visas. They paid considerably lower than other engineering companies across the board. There were also a lot of PhDs in management positions, and therefore a lot of PhDs hired for engineering positions, which I think drove everyone else's pay down even further.
When I worked in engineering, my company had probably about 50% of its engineers on H1B visas. They paid considerably lower than other engineering companies across the board.
The H-1Bs companies are supposed to use the concept of "prevailing wage" What is the prevailing wage? At best it is the rear view mirror average of the wages in an area. It is not the current or future wage. When I looked for a new job the company had to offer more than what I was making not what they previously paid everybody else. I asked for about 10% more and we settled on about half. The prevailing wage is just past history even if it is up to date (which I doubt). So it is easy for companies to keep their H-1Bs at a lower wage scale using the prevailing wage.
Just follow the money. Stagnant wages tells the story. To CEOs, engineers are equal replaceable units, just need to find the cheapest ones.
As I was being processed in a downsizing from a company known for High Priced equipment, I found an H1-B visa justification form someone had inadvertely left in a copy machine for the same job I had been doing. They catagoirized the job in a way where they could justify lower prevailaing wage, something like 30% lower if I remember correctly, but the job description was the same. This was about a year after our manager told our group that we had to summarize how we designed and debugged designs and transfer that knowlegde to our "co-workers" in India. Uh, yeah, I'll get right on that ....
The H1-B system is flawed because it is based on the hiring firms. The situation distorts the market, allowing firms to bring in workers effectively from a separate pool that will accept lower wages and that have less power to bargain with their employer because they are dependent on the employer for their visa.
The system needs to be replaced with one that grants visas based on talent and education. This will add to the talent pool in the US, but the economy is not a zero sum game. More talent here means more companies can start, stay and grow here. Placing foreign workers into the same market as US citizens and disentangling the visas from the hiring firms is a critical step. It's obvious why the big companies and to perpetuate and expand this distortion, though, to the detriment of US citizens.
There are so many reasons US workers aren't hired I wouldn't even try and count them all here, I'll say on background this is an entirely different era than when I was in high school and everyone seemed to be worried that the Soviets would win the space race, but we have so much "basic technology" in place now that companies aren't really "lookinig for technology heroes", they just want lower costs. One of the bigger problems US students do have is gullibility, they listen to the promotions of all these vested interests and actually believe them. Anyone who gets into some silly robotics competition and believes that writing a program to make some dumb robot run around a ring and beat up other robots is going to help him find a job deserves what his stupidity has brought to his pursuit of a career.
I guess I could mention that one reason I didn't see enumerated here is student loan debt. If you believe what companies are telling you about companies being unable to hire people with advanced degrees, it means you'll probably stay in school and get one or two. Meantime students in many other countries are getting what education they can with government aid and their tuition is sometimes even totally comped. Does this mean I'm in favor of more government aid or lower student loan interest rates? Hah! US companies will ALWAYS find an excuse to hire at the lowest rate they can find, and someone who carries debt is an unattractive candidate because he'll ultinately be seeking to be compensated at a rate high enough to pay it off, and that alone will render him an unattractive hire.
Except for a very few of the best-capitalized outfits they aren't really even looking for engineers or even technicians, they just want to hire some glorified "technically-trained clerks" who will perform some duties without making too many mistakes, but who will be around to "take the fall" in a culture where managers actually NEED to have technical employees around in a "management of blame" corporate culture. In an environment like that, for a given manager to succeed he needs to have workers around who "didn't do the job they were assigned the way they were supposed to" (translation: a hanful of engineers couldn't write and integrate a few million lines of new software in a couple of weeks) so that despite repeated project failures the manager can still acquit his efforts and move up to mahogany row and make millions in salary, stock grants and bonuses. Moral: if you want to succeed in business, get an MBA and learn to lie and blame others a lot, but DON'T get into engineering!
The STEM movement just started a few years ago, these scholars are either currently enroll in a college high-tech program or getting ready to attend college. But the US future is bright. As an educator, I had the honor of working with 30 high school students within a two week STEM program in Texas this summer. I was more than impressed. These students attended class, were well behaved, and had a notebook and a pencil ready to take notes. I don't know anything about these different studies. One thing that I do know, STEM jobs are available. But are today's college graduates willing to travel or relocate? Are today's college graduates willing to accept a reasonable salary to prove that they are worth a salary increase? There are a lot of factors to consider when seeking a job. At the college where I work, we are having a hard time recruiting computer science and engineering faculty to teach. Why? The applicants don't have the qualifications. Companies need people who want to work and are willing to work. I don't know what questions appeared on the survey, but I would be interested in knowing what steps the students are taking when they apply for these STEM jobs. Once again, STEM jobs are available.
So to hear you folks talk I could go online tomorrow and create a website called "The American Foundation for Employment Statistics" and go to the top 100 technical companies, stick my hand out and say "I'll put numbers on this website that reflect any conclusion about employment that YOU want my viewers to have if you grease my palm with enough cash" then I turn around and put up something like "according to my official figures there's 3 million STEM jobs going unfilled", then I get to laugh all the way to the bank AND YOU LOSERS WOULD BUY IT!? (It's actually WORSE than that because we're mostly talking about outfits that already have the website, they're really just "talking their book".)
I think we've found a major source of the problem here - it's manifested in a lack of critical thinking skills...
I'm glad that you responded but I'm trying to avoid "preaching to the choir". Look I don't want to seriously insult ANYBODY but this open STEM positions number is more manipulated than the government-approved unemployment rate the night before a major election, it would be helpful if there were a few less ostriches hiding their heads in the sand here but that's probably asking too much. Nobody would be happier than I would if the politics and the visa wars would just go away, but the economy is terribly weak and everyone is limiting the salaries for new hires as if they had just been told the plans for their primary product had just been hacked and given to senior management at a factory in western (low-cost) China (and in a few cases it probably has). I've been around long enough to remember the old days when there was a "tech track" but nowadays it's assumed anyone who hasn't gone into management by the age of 35 "just couldn't cut it", that's why most outfits have an active (but secret) policy that assures no one inside the company can ever get to see the resume of any candidate over the age of 50 (at a time when most people will have to work until they're 70 or later). It never used to be a problem finding an "honest audience" to talk about career issues but I guess "fiction" (this blog) "follows reality" (today's hyperpartisan politics). Nice to have your presence but I'm afraid the two of us doesn't constitute a quorum!
I don't follow you JeffL_2. Are you insinuating that this study is bogus and that the people that prepared the study were paid off? What evidence do you have to suggest that? And what purpose would it serve these top 100 companies to create the perception that there are a lot of unfilled jobs? Scratching my head over that one.
This article is very poorly written. STEM graduates of US universities also include foreign students. The writer should provide the breakdown of foreign and American students in US universities for all levels (bachelors, masters, PhDs). And what percentage of these foreign students get a job in the US compared with American ? All these foreign students who get a job in the US also part of H1B numbers, so it's not just graduates from foreign universities. Are foreign students more successful in getting a job compared to American students ?
Now that the U.S. Senate's bill has passed (S.744 passed June 27, 2013), next up is the House and then a conference committee, etc etc.. IEEE was against an earlier version of the Senate bill; the final bill may be more of a compromise, but IEEE on May 21 was still not pleased. See a summary of the bill here: search by "H-1B visa" to quickly find the passages. I wonder what's going to happen in the House.
The bill raises the annual H-1B visa cap, raises H-1B wage requirements, and requires employers to make significant efforts to recruit U.S. workers. The current H-1B visa cap of 65,000 is replaced with a cap that fluctuates between 115,000 and 180,000 based on a market escalator formula that considers employer demand and unemployment data. The lowest level wage that must be paid to H-1B workers is raised by narrowing the range of wages that employers must pay H-1B workers. Employers are required to place mandatory ads and perform other good faith recruitment to find U.S. workers before hiring an H-1B worker. Employers cannot intentionally displace U.S. workers and must pay an additional fee to place an H-1B worker with another company. Heavy users of the H-1B program, such as H-1B dependent employers or H-1B skilled worker dependent employers, have additional obligations, such as offering the job to U.S. workers first and a prohibition on having more than 50 percent H-1B or L-1 workers in their workforce. The bill also makes it easier for H-1B workers to change employers and limits employers' ability to place L-1 workers with other employers.
"Heavy users of the H-1B program, such as H-1B dependent employers or H-1B skilled worker dependent employers, have additional obligations, such as offering the job to U.S. workers first and a prohibition on having more than 50 percent H-1B or L-1 workers in their workforce."
Who are these "heavy users"? Doesn't 50 percent sound awfully high in an economy with high unemployment? One always hears how Americans don't want to work at farm jobs that illegals and/or migrant workers take, but does this also apply to STEM jobs? Skepticism here.
I'd be interested in seeing a few actual examples of companies hiring STEM workers, where a full 50 percent of H1B visa holders in the work force makes good sense. There could just be a whole segment of the economy that I'm missing.
For as long as I have been with EE Times, management in electronics companies have claimed there's a lack of engineers and engineering groups have claimed management is filling positions with lower cost H1-B folks while domestic engineers go unemployed.
Getting to the bottom of the situation has been difficult due to conflicting numbers from different studies.
I know many young foreign engineers who will work for nothing (or next to notyhing) to get an American company to sponsor them. The legal cost is nothing. Once they have a green card, they can do as they please. There is no way that a STEM grad from an American school with $100K of student loans can match that! We are kidding ourselves if we look at the problem from a minscule angle. The problem is systemic and complex. US STEM students, as bright as they are, will end up with other jobs to pay teh bills while foreign grads with NO student loan (Engineering educxation is free in India, China, Europe, and Canada) will take the jobs for less money in order to gain access to a green card and supress the salaries. That explains the number PERFECTLY!!!
Another real factor, Most US raised readers are not aware aware that most European/East/West/ ex British colonies whose education is modelled on the UK O/A levels start thier Alzebra/calculus/physics edecution at age 13. so a larger pool ready for the challenges of modern STE, if they decide to go in the sciences. About 60 percent are exposed simple linear / quadratic equations by age 14.
As a former h1, i think the phenomenon for hiring h1 and not new us born stem grads has myraid reasons. I am just making some points here: 1) competition for entry level jobs from abroad. in my f100 company, there were many entry-level people who were actually from east/south asia with over 5/7/10 years experience. they were willing to start at entry-level in the usa to get a start in this country, some for their children education etc. they are ok to stay there 2-5 years to get experience and then move on to a slightly higher position in another company. for a lot of them, US pay is comparable to far east -but a lot less work and better work culture and compared to south asia, pay is at least 60% higher. just the above makes it difficult for the entry level person here to compete.
2) The top 80% of the top 30 engg colleges always get recruited. Plus the grads from any univ with good contacts. The outliers and the people in colleges below now who dont have many professional contacts have to compete with 1). The expereienced people from abroad trying for these jobs outnumber the grads from smaller colleges by at least 2:1.
3) Most companies have a bottleneck on the career ladder. poeple who should have retired have not because of hte economic conditions and healthcare fears. this trickles (actually it is a gushing stream) down and people who whould be senior are still at entry level - so the new college grad has to compete with them. some companies force out senior people who then work in a lower level position in startups - positions which would have gone to a new college grad.
4) And how many companies now are really growing? Growth in terms of people in the USA? Very few - most jobs are created abroad. In fact,the tech industry is facing a 2nd wave of outsourcing led by smaller towns with lower income in the outsourced country.
5) Despite the claims otherwise, unless there is a control or limit on the poeple coming in or a limit on outsourcing, this trend is here to stay.
Given the current salary structures at most tech companies, the only workers that HR can hire to meet approved budgets are H1's. This is the main problem, as salaries have been flat, to slightly down, for the last 10 years. IF you were a HS student in the top 5% of your class, and you did just a little research on career fields and their salary levels, you would never choose STEM over a Law or finance degree. Just loooking at Ph'd level graduates, the salaries for the the first 5 years are very close, but after the 5 year mark, STEM salary increases flatten out, while those in the law and financial industries continue upward. This is not true for those companies run by engineering and science graduates, but for the majority who work for CEO's who are not, it is a common occurance.
RGARVIN640, just the first sentence of your message ought to be a whole barrel of cold water in the face of the parents of US students, especially the ones who fervently get their kids to enter science fairs and local robotics competitions. The truly sad part about this is they're still in the mode of "oh you can't possibly mean this applies to little Johnny (or Jane), he/she's really SMART!" And you know it doesn't get through until the kid gets the sheepskin and tries to enter the job market, THEN it's all about how they were lied to by all the teachers/guidance counselors etc. Sure these kids have benefitted somewhat from a tech education and can change course later, but it's far easier for some to change course than others who have their entire identity wrapped up in what they succeeded in in school. I predict there's going to be a good-sized chunk of an entire generation headed for extensive psychological analysis, suicides etc. For myself it's just the Cassandra complex deja vu. I'll bet these CEOs who set these salary caps feel just as strongly about their motivations but I'm also sure they'll find ways so they only have to answer to Wall Street analysts, NOT to Johnny's irate parents!
Just get VERY tired of all these CEO's saying that they cannot find 'American' STEM employees for their companies. IF they would pay a fair salary then they would have NO problem finding USA citizens to fill the jobs. They want to pay engineers with Master and PH's degrees the same as a BS graduate straight out school. Would not be so bad, but there are MANY qualified people without jobs, and they do not even try to actively recruit them. They go straight to the overseas market and try to bring the H1 canidates. Who they then expect them to work 55-60 hours a week, without even the promise of over time or bonus'es.
It's not just the CEOs saying it, it's all the "business channel" reporters saying "breaking news, there's three million STEM jobs GOING BEGGING!!" OK call me silly or naive, I briefly undertook a campaign actually emailing some of these clowns to try and get them to exercise a bit of restraint regarding the "industry propaganda" they were willing to spread. It turns out this vicious nonsense is being spread by every "conservative" think tank in DC as well as the "usual suspects" like CEA etc., there's apparently lots of lobbying money supporting this too. I also learned if you try to say something to try and stop immigrants from taking abusively poor salaries, the political right calls you "anti-immigrant" and the left denounces you for trying to prevent them from recruiting more poor people to vote in favor of huge government. In other words it's perfectly hopeless (or it seems that way), every political entity on both sides is not only steadfastly against reasonable tech salaries, they're also foursquare against telling the truth about almost anything having to do with the job market. Lots of luck trying to change things through the ballot box!!
I wonder how many of these companies who complain that they can't get USA STEM candidates have simply earned themselves the reputation of being bad places to work? While I haven't tried them myself, I have heard of sites where you can find out about the work environment of companies based on the opinions of people who are working there or have worked there, so it's not like you can keep company culture and disfunction secret. There are quite a few companies whose management and policies are indistinguishable from Dilbert, and like the PHB they can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to work for them.
What is new may be the impact of labor immobility within the US, where the US is (or has been?) one of the most mobile societies on Earth, I'm not sure if it is worse now or that demand has now made it more severe. I know that a long while ago, at a major firm, we had people decline offers because they preferred to stay in upstate New York.
And I have seen people leave STEM for more lucrative fields. One friend is an American born and raised in Queens, NY who finished a Ph.D. EE in semiconductor materials, then promptly went to law school, and is now a leading patent attorney based in Manhattan. On LinkedIn this past week, I reconnected with a friend who moved from a great career as a geological engineer to managing a commodities investment fund. I have told friends not to discourage their childrent from pursuing STEM studies since that knowledge would be valuable in other areas if they don't make it a lifetime career.
The Pando article does have an interesting point from a commenter and that is the issue of talent. More than once, I have been involved in recruiting for positions (in the US and outside) where all the candidates, domestic or foreign, were AWFUL. Just because someone is local, and available, doesn't mean you can do the job. There is a level where your passport(s) should NOT be a job qualification.
The IT cheap labor/outsourcing issue is muddling up other areas because someone who gets a visa there means that somebody who (e.g.) solved one of Facebook's posted programming challenges or is recruited by (e.g.) Intel for its semi foundry development (where many positions do require a Ph.D.) don't get one if the quota runs out. We never hear about those problems in modeling and professional sports (seriously, has anybody heard of a local beer leaguer challenging the move of a NHL hockey player from the main team to the Grand Rapid Griffins? Or in baseball?). Maybe the US is trying to do too much with one visa program.
My experience is from about 10 years ago, but I share the desire for H1B workers.
I was CTO of an Internet software company in the pre- and post- 2000 era, and so I experienced both when it was impossible to hire and when there were plentiful unemployeed software engineers. I ran several teams of about 40 people total, about 35 engineers.
My top 4 software engineers, who I depended on to get everything done, and who ran architecture as well as core coding were:
1) A British-educated Master of computer science
2) A Brazillian H1B masters of computer science
3) A French H1B Masters of computer science
4) A US software developer, I believe self taught, I think he had a college degree
While #1 had extensive video game console experience coming to us, #2 and #3 came to us striaght out of school - and were fantastic.
Almost consistently, my good US software engineers either 1) had no college degree or 2) had a dis-related college degree and had taught themselves to program
From my own experience at UCLA computer science, which may not represent other top 20 engineering schools, the curriculum was far too theoretical to turn out an engineer who was immediatley usable on a job. In fact, the only UCLA grads I knew who were usable, had worked on side projects throughout school - in essence, they were good engineers before they got there and continued to improve despite the education.
My sampling is only in the 40-50 person range, but it was consistent enough that it still affects my hiring choices today:
1) I prefer foreigners because of their work ehtic (not hours, just discipline at work)
2) I prefer foreigners because of their educational background (to get a masters you had to DO something meaningful, and make a whole system work, not just some theoretical essay on one obscure point)
3) I prefer foreigners because they seemed to have WANTED to study that field (I ran into US engineers whose 'parents told them to study C/S" or "who thought it was a good career choice", not a passion)
4) I prefer foreigners because they get the American dream and overtly stated that the reason they were here is because in the US there's this drive to succeed and that attracted them
I'm 4th generation American, late 19th century, so I don't consider these new Amercians any less American than me. I think you can be American anywhere on earth, if you believe in our values and come to our country and live the American dream and pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you're one of us and welcome here.
Your experience provides a good argument for why we should not be exhorting more students to persue STEM careers in those cases for which they have no great passion for science and engineering. Many students are already choosing careers with a more stable employment outlook and less stagnant wage appreciation (such as pharmacy, physical therapy, law, medicine etc).
That U.S. schools may have too much of a theoretical bent in the education of American CS students may derive from computer science being inappropriately identified with those engineering disciplines which are more related to the physical sciences. A more vocational track for CS students might be more productive than the system which we have.
Randy Bullock received his degree in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M and is now the kicker for the Houston Texans. So he counts as part of that 50% of STEM graduates who did not take a "STEM job". Should we feel bad for him? Ryan Tannehill received his BS in Biology from Texas A&M and is the quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. We have got to do something about all these STEM graduates going to the NFL!
The primary reason half of STEM graduates take non-STEM jobs is because companies want to hire STEM graduates for all sorts of jobs, including non-STEM jobs, because they are smart, can think analytically, etc. Engineering graduates who aren't great placekickers tend to take engineering jobs, but many science and math students take jobs outside science and math. I've met many such former students who are doing very well.
As was alluded to, another thing to consider is the distribution of graduates and their skills. The bottom 10% may not be the best choice for a STEM job, but may do just great in another job. Since this is EE Times, and Texas now offers a Professional Engineer license in Software Engineering, perhaps an interesting discussion would be the PE license as a way to better identify competency. It is standard in fields such as Civil Engineering.
And yet, the observation that there is no STEM worker shortage remains valid given the labor statistics. The fact that individuals who are trained for other professions than those in which they are eventually employed is not peculiar to engineering professions nor does it mean that they are either employed or satisfied that they couldn't find a job in their chosen profession.
That facts are conclusive that there is no STEM worker shortage and the reason is not a dearth of STEM graduates.
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