To hear it from politicians and many company executives, the U.S. is woefully short of the number of STEM professionals needed to keep the nation competitive and economically sound. But according to Robert N. Charette at IEEE Spectrum, this supposed shortfall is a myth: “It pretty much doesn’t matter what country you’re talking about—the United States is facing this crisis, as is Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, China, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore, India…the list goes on.” Yet “you’ll also find reports suggesting just the opposite—that there are more STEM workers than suitable jobs.”
Regardless of whether a shortage actually exists, the incentives for students to pursue STEM education and, later, a career may be waning, particularly in light of the greater difficulty of these subjects, the fact that the market is largely stacked against older professionals and the attraction of other fields in a society awash in gizmos. Assuming, however, that there is really no STEM shortfall, any number of motivations could feasibly drive alarmist calls for more STEM focus: government obsession with defense technology, a desire by technology companies to hire immigrants on visas (creating something of a captive workforce via sponsorship) or a means of simply keeping wages lower for technology professionals.
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