US Loses Technical Dominance, One Student at a Time
According to a report by the AEA, the unemployment rate for computer scientist in 2006 was 2.5 percent, while for electrical engineers it was even lower at 1.9 percent. Effectively, those low unemployment numbers mean that the US technical community is full employed. Unfortunately, the US high-tech market continues to grow. So who will fill those future positions? Not US born students, who are leaving math and science courses by the droves. Nor will these future high-paying/high-growth jobs be filled by foreigners – at least, not in the US. This shortage of high-tech professionals is going to spell real trouble in the near future.
Quoting from the AEA report: “While we are encouraged by the pickup in tech employment, we are committed to the long term health of the industry, the economy, and our nation,” continued Archey. “We have some serious challenges ahead. Companies of all sizes continue to have problems recruiting highly qualified and educated individuals to work for them, whether those individuals are foreign or domestic. This was reflected in the 2.5 percent unemployment rate for computer scientists and the below 2 percent unemployment rate for engineers in 2006. This problem is twofold: 1) the lack of American kids enrolling in and graduating from math, science, and engineering programs and 2) a U.S. high-skilled visa system that is broken. This April, within two days of the start of taking applications, the U.S. government received 133,000 applications for 65,000 H-1B visas – those visas reserved for high skilled individuals. And this is for jobs starting in October of 2007.”
If the US is to maintain is current technological position in the global market, then we must get back to basics – like funding for math and science education at all school levels.