Saturday, April 07, 2007

Study: There Is No Shortage of U.S. Engineers

A friend at Clemson sent me a link to this article about a new study from Duke University stating that there is no shortage of engineers in the United States. It's interesting to consider with the Swamp Fox Feature Article that Tom Rogers wrote this week.

One things for certain. The competition is increasingly global, and the stakes are getting higher.


Duncan said...

The only problem with all published summaries of this report is that the "information technology/computer science" numbers are obscured. One needs to have those numbers broken out separately. They may be statistically no different from the numbers for "engineering" but that's not clear a priori. Since the US separates computer science statistics from engineering statistics, one needs to look at both separately to make sure one is making a clear argument.

Kerry Neubrander said...

I began to seriously doubt the shortage of engineers theory about 6 months ago. That's when I when I accepted a job to work with about 50 other engineers and scientists... at a trading firm.

My anecdotal evidence tells me there are plenty of engineers who are willing to leave the field because the available engineering jobs, for lack of a better term, suck. Most career paths don't lead to R&D or innovation; they start in a cubicle and lead to management. No thanks.

The better hypothesis may be that the real shortage is of technically-competent non-engineers and non-scientists.

Tom Rogers said...

No shortage of engineers in the US? It's not a surprise. From fiscal year 2002 to 2005 alone the government issued 456,322 H1B temporary 6 year permits for foreign technical workers to come to the US. This fiscal year (ending in Oct 2007) the number is expected to top 85,000. This does not include workers with green cards. Eliminating all the foreign workers would cause an immediate crisis in the US software industry. A critical shortage of engineers would eventually follow since engineering and computer professionals are drawn from essentially the same talent pool of students. Without foreign technical workers we would have a real problem.

Anonymous said...

Tom Rogers simplistic answer is contradicted by the facts, as found in very extensive studies of the technical talent pool of American citizens. There are more unemployed citizen engineers and software developers than there are immigrants in those jobs.

An ongoing study by the University of California Davis and another at Southern Cal show that the importation of cheap foreign temp workers is not in response to any shortage, because the lobbying for quota increases kept right on through the last big tech layoffs.

It is all about beating down the overall wages of American engineers. Most of these foreign workers are not that good. Many have phony degrees. But the big companies don't care if they have to throw away all their work, because it only takes a few of them working at 60% of normal salaries to drag down raises and starting salaries for American workers.