Friday, March 7, 2014

Debate: Is There a STEM Worker Shortage?

Hal Salzman, Professor at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, wrote an excellent article about the claim of STEM shortages and the need for H-1B visa immigration proceeding an upcoming debate.

“The nation graduates more than two times as many STEM students each year as find jobs in STEM fields. For the 180,000 or so openings annually, U.S. colleges and universities supply 500,000 graduates. Guest workers provide benefits to the companies that hire them in the form of lower wages, but there is little evidence to suggest that they strengthen the nation’s science, engineering, or technology workforces.”

Are more graduates and guestworkers needed? The ongoing debate about these issues, and Congressional high-skill immigration proposals will be discussed at the National Academies of Science by some of the key researchers and policy analysts examining these issues.

As Congress considers comprehensive immigration legislation, little attention has been focused upon the labor market impacts of the STEM guestworker and STEM green card provisions of the bills. The key policy questions being discussed include: is there a shortage of STEM workers in the U.S. economy; is the U.S. education system producing enough STEM graduates with requisite STEM education; and how does high-skill immigration impact the STEM labor market the domestic supply of STEM talent?

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), EPI, the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, and Issues in Science and Technology, will co-host a lively debate on this critical policy issue.

Robert Atkinson, President of ITIF, and Jonathan Rothwell, an Associate Fellow at the Brookings Institution, will argue that the United States faces a STEM worker shortage, which is hampering the development of the innovation economy, and high-skill immigration should be used as a tool to address the skills gap.

Hal Salzman, Professor of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and co-author of an EPI report on guestworkers in IT and a recent Issues in Science and Technology article on STEM shortages, and Ron Hira, Associate Professor of Public Policy at Rochester Institute of Technology and EPI research associate, will counter that the country is not experiencing a STEM shortage, and that sharply increasing the number of temporary foreign workers in STEM fields and making an unlimited number of green cards available for STEM grads without evidence of a labor market need will impact wage growth and employment and discourage young people from entering STEM fields.

The debate will be moderated by Kevin Finneran, editor of the National Academies’ Issues in Science and Technology.

When and where is the debate?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014—from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. at the National Academy of Sciences Keck Building 500 Fifth St. NW (208) Washington, DC 20001—This event is free. Please register here: 


Information Technology and Innovation Foundation | 1101 K Street N.W. Suite 610, Washington, DC 20005 — E-mail:  | Phone: (202) 449-1351 | Fax: (202) 638-4922

FYI: I wrote and never received a response:

I would like to attend the debate but I can not make it to DC on March 12, 2014. Will this debate be podcast, televised or taped for later viewing? Will a full transcript and/or rebroadcast be available online?

1 comment:

  1. Clinical informatics was touted as a great field, and ideal for retraining health care professionals and IT professionals (laid off in the Great Recession). The government provided some scholarship money for the retraining, but vast numbers of graduates are not able to find jobs. Meanwhile, middle aged IT professionals are laid off and foreign graduates are hired, because it is cheaper to hire people afraid of the boss (and who will work endless hours) than to retrain current citizens. This is the poison pill in the immigration bill, an easier way to import cheaper workers to replace more experienced workers already in the U.S.