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The Plummeting Labor Market Fortunes of Teens and Young Adults

Is There Really a STEM Worker Shortage?


An interesting report from the Economic Policy Institute that concludes there isn't a STEM worker shortage, particularly as it relates to IT jobs:

Our examination of the IT labor market, guestworker flows, and the STEM education pipeline finds consistent and clear trends suggesting that the United States has more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations:

  • The flow of U.S. students (citizens and permanent residents) into STEM fields has been strong over the past decade, and the number of U.S. graduates with STEM majors appears to be responsive to changes in employment levels and wages.
  • For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job.
  • 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. These responses suggest that the supply of graduates is substantially larger than the demand for them in industry.

Also interesting to note in the report:

The data also show that there are multiple routes into IT employment, most of which do not require a STEM degree:

  • Only about a third of the IT workforce has an IT-related college degree.
  • 36 percent of IT workers do not hold a college degree at all.
  • Only 24 percent of IT workers have a four-year computer science or math degree.

The data also strongly suggest that there is a robust supply of domestic workers available for the IT industry:

  • The number of domestic STEM graduates has grown strongly, and many of these graduates could qualify for IT jobs.
  • The annual number of computer science graduates doubled between 1998 and 2004, and is currently over 50 percent higher than its 1998 level.

Additional information and links can be found here

What are the implications for our workforce policies in this data? How does it impact what we're telling job seekers and how we're allocating and expending our resources? 


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