Recently read: Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market

This is a fascinating article that I recommend if you’re involved in any way with higher education, STEM, or immigration discussions. In short, we’ve been told for years that there is more demand for good STEM graduates than the United States can meet, and that our students are, on average, poor when compared with other countries. This report from the Economic Policy Institute indicates that:

  1. There are more than enough highly qualified domestic STEM graduates, but
  2. For whatever reason, they cannot find jobs in IT or STEM, potentially because
    1. Wages aren’t high enough and they can find a better paying job outside of STEM, or
    2. They simply weren’t hired, and meanwhile
  3. The number of guestwork visas to import STEM workers from other countries continues to increase, despite #1

Within IT, what it really comes down to is that while we have plenty of people who can do the work in the USA, we don’t have people who are willing to work for the same amount of money that these jobs paid in 1990, and a lot of the jobs have dropped back to 1990-level wages… while the price of goods and services has increased (due to inflation).

I love seeing actual research and evidence on these sorts of topics. For me personally, I’ve felt that the reason companies have had trouble getting the staff they want/need is because they’ve been clamoring for STEM graduates, but then the STEM graduates apply for jobs and their communication skills are lacking…. That what the CEOs and the companies actually want are people with a strong liberal arts background who can handle the STEM work. If you look at the education of a lot of CEOs, it’s actually in the liberal arts, and so they find the STEM graduates inadequate because those graduates aren’t similar enough to themselves (the CEOs and managers).

My off-the-cuff hypothesis is undermined by this report, though, which indicates that the problem isn’t that companies aren’t hiring domestic IT graduates due to their poor communication skills, but rather that most IT graduates discover they can make more money outside of their anticipated field. (The article states that about ~50% of IT graduates choose a job outside their anticipated field while ~33% couldn’t find a job within IT at all.)

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