Tech graduates still lag other majorsOur standard of living has ALREADY been seriously undermined, Mr. Castellani, and we are continuing to lose ground every day. It says something that "the crowd on 'Carpet Row'" is apparently just becoming aware of that reality now.
A government report bolsters businesses' demands for better efforts to boost math, science graduates.
By Paul Basken
The United States is spending $2.8 billion a year on hundreds of programs to boost the numbers of college graduates with mathematics and science degrees, yet the increases still lag behind other fields, federal auditors said yesterday.
The number of U.S. graduates with science, technology, engineering or mathematics degrees increased by 8 percent from 1994-95 to 2002-03, while graduates in other fields increased 30 percent, the Government Accountability Office said in a report to Congress.
"Little is known about the extent to which most STEM programs are achieving their desired results," the GAO said, using the acronym for programs to boost the numbers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates.
The quality of grade-school teachers, insufficient mentoring of young women and minority students, and stricter visa rules since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks may help explain why the United States is not producing more such graduates, the GAO said.
U.S. business groups have been pressing for greater efforts to increase the numbers of technology graduates, calling the matter critical to U.S. economic competitiveness.
More than a third of U.S. manufacturers reported open positions this year because of a lack of qualified people, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. By 2010, the number of unfilled jobs is expected to exceed the overall unemployment rate, said Stephen Jordan, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for Corporate Citizenship.
Thirteen federal agencies spent about $2.8 billion in fiscal 2004 on 207 programs designed to produce more technology graduates, the GAO said.
The costs ranged from $4,000 for a national scholars program sponsored by the Department of Agriculture to a $547 million National Institutes of Health program to expand training in biomedical, behavioral and clinical research, the federal auditors said.
U.S. companies spend almost $3 billion a year to help improve grade schools nationwide, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber was host to representatives from dozens of major U.S. companies - including Microsoft Corp., General Electric Co., Intel Corp., and International Business Machines Corp. - earlier this month to explore ways to spend that money more wisely.
The Business Roundtable and other leading U.S. business organizations issued a report in July saying the country needs to double its science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates by 2015.
"The critical situation in American innovation threatens to undermine our standard of living at home and our leadership in the world," John Castellani, president of Business Roundtable, a Washington-based lobby organization that represents chief executives of 160 U.S. companies.
You know, it is a source of continual fascination to me that these mighty captains of industry will complain in a heartbeat about the way our students are being educated (or not being educated in many cases) in science and mathematics, not learning enough and graduating in the numbers they would like (and yes, I definitely admit that we have work to do about that), but these same business leaders are, at best, silent when our politicians pass legislation that encourages the exporting of jobs in this country overseas (or, in some cases, they are actually cheerleading over it). Or do these business leaders care that overseas students are just going to take the skills they learn in this country back home anyway?
I think this link provides some important information regarding this trend, which isn't likely to let up in the forseeable future, unfortunately. I had also heard that the Bush Department of Labor has published guidelines to encourage companies to "offshore" jobs, selling the tax benefits of this repugnant practice, but I couldn't find a link at the U.S. Department of Labor site to verify that. Also, Paul Craig Roberts at Counter Punch (link in the right column) has written extensively on this topic, and I highly recommend his columns (Roberts worked in the Commerce Department in the Reagan Administration - I was never a fan of Ronnie Baby, but unlike Dubya, he at least had people in important government positions who were actually competent).
Also, here is a link to a bit of good news from Lou Dobbs, who has been beating the drum on the issue of outsourcing/offshoring for some time now (is it a surprise that the Repugs buried this study in an omnibus spending bill, not wanting word to get out that might upset their primary campaign contributors?).
When I hear people like John Castellani advocating legislation to ensure reasonable-paying jobs with decent benefits to go along with the wishes of his Fortune 500 clientele, then I'll consider the whining of these beyond-rich individuals a bit more seriously (and don't get me started on CEO compensation - that's a whole other rant).