Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beware of STEM Fever

Published in the Eugene Register-Guard, April 6, 2014 with the title "STEM job shortage is overstated." (Not accurate. My letter says it doesn't exist. In fact, there there seems to be surplus of potential STEM employees.)

Before Eugene's educators continue with their plans ("Leaders eye transforming academy to STEM school," April 1), they should know that a number of studies have concluded that there is no shortage of science-technology trained potential workers in the US.
Rutgers University professor Hal Salzman has concluded that there are approximately three qualified graduates annually for each science or technology opening.
Recent studies have also shown the United States is producing more Ph.D.s in science than the market can absorb.
About 1/3 of college-bound high-school students take calculus, and only abour 5% of jobs require this much math.
I am all for high quality math/science education, but we need to take a hard look at claims of a STEM shortage.

Stephen Krashen

original article:

Three graduates for each opening:
Salzman, H. & Lowell, B. L. 2007. Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand. Available at SSRN:
Salzman, H. and Lowell, L. 2008. Making the grade. Nature 453 (1): 28-30.
Salzman, H. 2012. No Shortage of Qualified American STEM Grads (5/25/12)
See also:
Teitelbaum, M. 2007. Testimony before the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, November 6, 2007
More Ph.D's than the market can absorb: Weissman, Jordan. The Ph.D Bust: America's Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts. The Atlantic, Feb 20, 2013.
One third take calculus: Bressoud, D. 2011. Calculaus in High School: Too Much of A Good Thing?
Need for calculus: Handel, M. 2010. What do people do at work? Available at‎

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