Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NSF Reports No Geek Shortage

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the wish-things-were-still-going-up dept.

Education 233

Baldrson writes "The NSF's report titled 'Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering Programs Up in 2003, But Declines for First-Time Foreign Students' (a pdf of the report released for the first time last month) is now available online. In an analysis of the report, Edwin S. Rubenstein of ESR Research states of these latest figures: '4.2 percent of science and engineering PhDs work outside their field of training, chiefly for financial reasons. This further weakens corporate America's claim of a shortage of high-tech workers.'" Interesting to see how things have changed since then.

cancel ×

233 comments

LOL POST LOL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13642874)

LOL POST LOL

Is it just me (1, Funny)

gotr00t (563828) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642886)

or are the trolls getting lazier?

4.2th post! (-1, Offtopic)

killa62 (828317) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642876)

wait you say?
42th???
4.2th???

Re:4.2th post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13642908)

42nd

Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (5, Insightful)

RentonSentinel (906700) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642881)

I don't think corporations really complained about a shortage of high-tech workers.

It was *cheap* high-tech workers that they said were in short supply...

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (4, Insightful)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642920)

Ain't that the truth!

Besides, since when does one need a PhD or even a college degree to be a geek?

I know people with no degree that make killer apps with real-world-solid designs.

I think corporations are looking in the wrong places (I know the fortune 500 I work at is looking in all the wrong places).

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13642934)

Besides, since when does one need a PhD or even a college degree to be a geek?

Or when does a PhD or a degree prove you are? Have you seen the quality of recent graduates?

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (4, Insightful)

ace1317 (905398) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643719)

This article refers to all engineering and science though, not just CS. I think it's pretty difficult these days for a self-taught chemical engineer to get a 35 plate pilot distillation column to play with. Or for that matter to get experience on any sort of high tech equipment used for lithography or imaging on the nanoscale if that happens to be your field. Those who are geeks would be geeks with or without the schooling, that's true, but for some fields schooling gives access to experimental work, while teaching yourself gives only theory. I hypothesize that most people need both.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13644054)

Not to mention that if it's true that companies should be looking to self-taught CS people for labor, that is indicative that the current crop is overpaid.

IT people here should be forced to compete with India's wages. IT work is not difficult.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642935)

I don't think corporations really complained about a shortage of high-tech workers.

Big companies like Intel, MS, and HP have been claiming there is a "shortage" for years, even during the depths of the tech recession of 2001-2004. Yet many of them have been implementing hiring freezes and other staff-reducing measures.

As somebody pointed out, MS almost exclusively hires only graduates. If there was a "shortage", shouldn't they expand their hiring to older workers? They just want to keep being picky, that is why they lobby for visa workers and more access to India. Young people without families work longer hours. And, they get "A" workers at "C" prices.
         

(correction) (2, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642946)

MS almost exclusively hires only graduates

I meant fresh graduates, just out of college. (And I think the grammer is messed up in that sentence, but I am too lazy to fix it.)
           

Re:(correction) (2, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | more than 8 years ago | (#13644174)

It's been pointed out by others that this may be a fundamental flaw in MS software development. They can get new graduates cheaply but they lack experience so continue to make the same mistakes that other more experienced workers have learned about the hard way (think security, networking, etc.)

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (5, Insightful)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643026)

And, they get "A" workers at "C" prices.
That's a bit of an exaggeration.

As smart and skilled as young tech workers might be, they don't have the experience yet of working in a team environment on large projects. Anyone that's ever worked in such environments knows the value of experienced members, in terms of keeping the goals focused and the lines of communication properly flowing. Schools cannot fully teach experience, and experience is a big component of what I'd call an "A" worker.

Plus, with starting salaries averaging higher than public school teachers or police officers... calling them "C" salaries is stretching it a bit.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (5, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643080)

As smart and skilled as young tech workers might be, they don't have the experience yet of working in a team environment on large projects.

For whatever reason, many companies don't really value experience. Managers view it like factory work: "Can they put the peg into the hole when needed?" Or "Do they know JavaFoo++ and have a cert?"

Plus, with starting salaries averaging higher than public school teachers or police officers... calling them "C" salaries is stretching it a bit.

But technology careers are more volatile. When the economy goes bad, the demand for cops is even higher because idle people get into more trouble. And teachers have the protection of government policies and unions. Further, they get the summer off , have longer holiday periods, have good benefits and retirement packages. Teaching is usally more cushy and stable in comparison. And, cops don't need a college degree. Tech is a grind with Dilbertian bosses with limited upward mobility.
           

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (2, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643662)

Teaching is usally more cushy and stable in comparison. And, cops don't need a college degree. Tech is a grind with Dilbertian bosses with limited upward mobility.

I can't speak for cops, but the teachers I've known over the last 20 years have it soooo easy:

  • They always have at least one PHB (or PhD) directing them to do their job a different way every year.
  • There are endless mandatory meetings that serve no purpose, but they still have to drive 20 miles to the county seat every day after work to attend
  • All those PHBs telling them how to do their job know how to teach far better than the teachers do (just ask them!)
  • Time at the job is valued more than skill or dedication
  • They can't move up to another position until somebody with tenure dies or retires

Nope, they couldn't identify with Dilbert or us poor techies at all. Not in the slightest.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (2, Informative)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643767)

Newbie, stay in a conversation about tech.

Errors with your points (my wife works in admin for school district):

1 - at least one PHB (or PhD) - First, not different every year. Only when change dictated by state. One PHB? You do realize that the principals almost always PhD's in education, not MBA's?

2 - endless mandatory meetings - No. Mandatory meetings are usually one per quarter, and they get the day and are paid travel. Every day is a blatent lie, plus it's not held in the county seat.

3 - PHBs telling ... better - That PHB is one with an education degree, you know, and more experience than the teachers below. Hardly a PHB.

4 - Time at the job is valued more - That's called tenure. It's the largest problem with ridding the system of bad teachers. When was the last time you knew a tech with tenure?

5 - can't move up to another position - A great display of your ignorance about the school systems. The organization is thus: Principal and staff followed immediately by a flat level of all the teachers (not University system). No team leaders, no senior programmers, no analysts; none of the hierarchy you see in many businesses.

Annotations by a real classroom teacher... (2, Interesting)

TromboonDotPy (861822) | more than 8 years ago | (#13644084)

Newbie, stay in a conversation about tech.

Yes, but a conversation allows for lateral moves, yes? In any case having criticized him for being off topic, you then engage him point by point. What's up with that?

Errors with your points (my wife works in admin for school district):

And so you get the party line from management, yes? So I thought I'd add a few remarks from a real teacher.

1 - at least one PHB (or PhD) - First, not different every year. Only when change dictated by state. One PHB? You do realize that the principals almost always PhD's in education, not MBA's?

No, every two or three years as they get their vitas together. Still a source of disorder.

2 - endless mandatory meetings - No. Mandatory meetings are usually one per quarter, and they get the day and are paid travel. Every day is a blatent lie, plus it's not held in the county seat.

Not a blatant lie; that would be an example of hyperbole. The professional development overhead in my state (Texas) is not trivial.

3 - PHBs telling ... better - That PHB is one with an education degree, you know, and more experience than the teachers below. Hardly a PHB.

Some are assuredly PHB's. Parent's wife I'm sure is one of the good ones I'm sure, but some are entirely as clueless and mean as Dilbert's boss.

4 - Time at the job is valued more - That's called tenure. It's the largest problem with ridding the system of bad teachers. When was the last time you knew a tech with tenure?

Score one there, kinda. We do have a much better quality of life than many tech workers (except perhaps our own). In particular, anyone who cares about raising their family (read: women) can be forgiven for finding tech a barren and unlovley place, and preferring the public schools. And I haven't noticed managers having much difficulty dislodging bad teachers, but that may be just my environment.

5 - can't move up to another position - A great display of your ignorance about the school systems. The organization is thus: Principal and staff followed immediately by a flat level of all the teachers (not University system). No team leaders, no senior programmers, no analysts; none of the hierarchy you see in many businesse

Score one there, sorta. No, you don't move up by getting other teacher's jobs. But Grandparent is basically correct that you can't go up the ladder as a teacher very readily. It takes a vast committment of time and money and bending your head around the principalship (which ain't for everyone). Though the barriers to entry seem (to me) quite high, the compensations must be nice; the competition for principalships is fierce.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (4, Informative)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 8 years ago | (#13644164)

Teaching is usally more cushy and stable in comparison.

And isn't that the truth. I was a programmer and did DBA work for three years, until I switched to teaching. Because when IBM cuts 500 mainly tech jobs in your state, and you get laid off, and all your friends with more certs and coursework in programming than you get laid off, teaching starts to look damn good.

Once I get my lvl 2 teaching certification, it's pretty much as good as tenure. I have to majorly screw up to get fired. Like abuse a kid, or repeatedly come in under the influence. Compare that with my last tech job, when I got laid off RANDOMLY as part of a 5% reduction in salary/benefits costs. That's right - no performance based review, no cost/benefit analysis, a random (less managers and friends of the president) layoff. I had been there almost 3 years, but they laid off another worker who had been there LESS THAN TWO WEEKS.

As we say at school, this would be the best job in the world if it wasn't for the kids and the administration. Regardless of my bitching about school, I sure as hell don't miss my time in IT. And I have summers off to program and screw around back in IT land, while getting paid the whole time.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (4, Informative)

Cerdic (904049) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642953)

Yep, H1-B visas will bring that cheap labor in.

On a side note, affirmative action is a bunch of BS and the way the powers that be train future H1-B labor. The truth is that in many schools, The over representation is actually from foreign students, particularly from Asia, strong H1-B candidates.

I was looking at some data for U of Washington, the place where they had the infamous "affirmative action bake sale." To make class populations representative of the population of the state, they would need to increase black students from 2.7% to 3.5%, hispanics by something similar, increase white students from 50% to 70%, and drop Asians (huge numbers from outside the US) from 30% to something like 6%.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (3, Funny)

gamer4Life (803857) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643004)

3.5% + 3.5% + 70% + 6% = 83%

Where do you get the other 17%?

Affirmative action usually helps blacks and hispanics and women, and works against white and Asian males.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (3, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643131)

Where do you get the other 17%?

MBAs. Nobody really wants to claim them as their own.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643184)

This whole deal with H1-B workers being hired at lower wages is absolutely baseless. The corporations are required to show that pay scales are in line with other employees (black/brown/yellow). Besides do you realize how much it costs to actually sponsor a person on such a visa, and the legal bills that pile up.

We've been trying to recruit someone for a position for ages, and have been not able to find a competent person (at pretty damn good wages) for over 6 months now. I wish people who can't find jobs would work a little harder and learn a little more instead of blaming their ineptititude on some dude who's come a long way to do the job well.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (1)

iceanfire (900753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643418)

You're making the assumption that the goal is to make the student population representative of the population of the state. The universities argue that diversity in the student population is necessary for developing a culture of tolerence and exposing students to different points of view. By that measure you'd probably want people from outside the U.S since since these individuals tend to have far more varied experiences and are less inflicted by 'american culture'.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (1)

LoveTheIRS (726310) | more than 8 years ago | (#13644034)

Columbia University College Conservatives also had an affirmative action bake sale. Yes, it also did cause LOTS of controversy. Like...scandal...like a whole new bureacracy was created, the "Center for Multi-cultural affairs" in response to outcry.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (4, Insightful)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643135)

I don't think corporations really complained about a shortage of high-tech workers.

It was *cheap* high-tech workers that they said were in short supply...


Wouldnt you complain if gas prices were very high?

They want low cost labor .. why is this a problem? Would you argue against automation? Why shouldnt companies be allowed to hire whoever they want based on the wage they are willing to work for? Construction workers work hard, and would love to earn as much as IT workers ..but they cant. How come nobody argues construction workers should get paid the same as IT workers? For that matter why not pay someone at macdonalds $60k+? Doesnt everyone deserve more money?

Unfortunately, IT workers think that just because they wasted time in college ... other people are obligated to hire them. This is ridiculous! Salaries shouldnt be based on how intelligent a person thinks of themselves as being, it should be based on how much a person needs you.

This is the essence of trade. If a carpenter labors for hours making a table with an intricate design and prices it at 1000 silver pieces, and a rival carpenter makes an ugly chair and prices it at 10 silver pieces, nobody is morally obligated to buy the more expensive chair.

This has been the essence of trade for milleniums.

If you are unable to provide value .. DO SOMETHING ELSE THAT YOU CAN PROVIDE REAL VALUE IN .. or price yourself lower. Deal with it instead of taking it out on people who are willing to make more sacrifices.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643426)

They want low cost labor .. why is this a problem?

Because the whole purpose of the economy, jobs, businesses and government of to provide a better life for the people in the locality involved. People work at businesses, which in turn sell their goods and service to the same people. As more work is done, wealth accumulates and everybody prospers.

Companies, particularly tech companies can break this cycle by one-way globalisation. They can hire workers in other countries or outsource work, but the tech workers cannot. They are stuck in their place with mortgages, families etc. That is why this is a problem.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (3, Insightful)

spyfrog (552673) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643598)

Where I live, there is totaly impossible to find work in the IT field.
And even if you get a work, you will earn less than people in the construction business.
So construction workers can and do earn more than college educated workers.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (3, Interesting)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643838)

Good point, someone should Mod you up (don't have mod points today). If you are in contruction, you are often unionized and that helps wages. Geeks have tried to organize but can't seem to.

Construction workers often get overtime and since they are hourly it is PAID at 1.5X. Try asking your PHB for OT pay at your regular scale.

I had a cousin who dropped out of High School, went to work as an electrician, got his licenses, and made about $25/hour plus OT while I was in making 35K right out of school with a BSCS working 60 hour weeks as a Programmer. He went on to start his own business in electrical contracting and made a fortune then retired about 45.

So yea, construction can pay if you get into the skilled trades. Just being a Laborer is not going to do it though.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643697)

They want low cost labor, but the fact that there is a shortage of it combined with an apparent tech. worker surplus is indicative of the marketplace dictating a higher salary for these people than the corporations wish to pay.

If they can find high tech. workers that want to work for peanuts, that's fine (realize that not all jobs can go to India; for example, mine will never be outsourced). Obviously, however, they're having a hard time doing that.

Labor costs to gas prices is a bad comparison, for a number of reasons. First, if you want to buy premium gas, you'd better be prepared to pay more. Second, if you treat people like a commodity, you probably won't have a very happy or productive workforce. Geeks know other geeks, and one of the first things we talk about is work. I have turned down jobs due to my friends poorly recommending the employers, and I imagine that others would do the same.

I guess what I'm trying to point out is that the corporations want the more expensive chair for the cheaper price.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (2, Funny)

serutan (259622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643229)

No geek shortage where I work, but for what it's worth the Babe Shortage is showing no sign of letting up.

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (1)

dawhippersnapper (861941) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643237)

I disagree again! I think it's a shortage of hot young female high-tech workers. Think about it ;).

Re:Not a shortage of high-tech workers... (1)

jskline (301574) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643771)

I'll go you one more in that with what I've been going through, its more like both really low wage workers, and very *youthful* workers. Not only does business not want to pay us a livable earning, but they want kids to work because they can get away with cheaper insurance, and "yank the cranks" of the workers to put in many more hours for the same base salary. All this for the interest of the share-holders and corporate exec perks.

In the town that I'm living in right now, I know of two major corporations that are exploiting this issue en-masse, and this doesn't even factor in the huge numbers of H1-B's that are there as well. If this isn't stopped sometime soon, won't be that much longer before the tech industry employee will become the next "fast food" like worker earning minimum wage. Unfortunately I think congress has given big business carte-blanche to use any means within the law to do business and show profits. Right now I'm only doing temp job employment in the IT sector with no benefits, or insurance because that's all thats available, and the wages are not much over earnings from working in a restaurant!

I thought I heard Dell was bringing the help desk stuff back to the US because they recognized their customer base was falling off due to customers having to work with people that had English as a 3rd language (not slamming on our friends from India). I have myself gotten fed up with calling manufacturers on home appliance problems, only to have to speak with someone who couldn't understand half my words, and I definately couldn't understand them. I got on the phone with one manufacturer's corporate offices, and began demanding a full refund of my purchase price because the product's quality and service didn't match up to what their advertising claims were!

I sure do hope this is a sign that things are beginning to come back around.

Cheers

Well Duh (1)

Omnieiunium (872399) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642882)

Just look at how many people read slashdot.

Re:Well Duh (1)

Mateito (746185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642948)

Just look at how many people read slashdot.

No. They said workers. Reading Slashdot is not work....

Remember kiddies... (0, Redundant)

_Hellfire_ (170113) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642884)

That's Edwin S. Rubenstein, the other ESR!

Shortage due to Schooling? (4, Insightful)

grogdamighty (884570) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642885)

Perhaps the shortage of high tech workers is due to the increasing demands for longer periods of schooling - the mandatory masters and doctorates that have replaced the undergraduate degrees of the past.

Re:Shortage due to Schooling? (5, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642964)

Perhaps the shortage of high tech workers is due to the increasing demands for longer periods of schooling - the mandatory masters and doctorates that have replaced the undergraduate degrees of the past.

Is this because the jobs really require such, or because if a company has access to the entire world's labor, they would hire PhD's to flip burgers if they could pay them what they pay a citizen. In otherwords, it is not a "need" but a possibility that is taken advantage of.

Normally companies don't do this with citizens because they feel "natives" would get too bored if they are overqualified. However, the perception is that foreign workers won't complain. This may be true because it is better than their alternatives in their native country. Third-world workers are obviously going to be less picky because they grew up with less. Plus, if they are picky, they can be replaced because there are 6 billion people on the planet. This makes it easier to find somebody willing to be exploited.
       

shortage? (4, Funny)

oh_bugger (906574) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642890)

they say there's no shortage but the price is still $70 per barrel of geeks!

Carnegie Mellon (2, Funny)

Jozer99 (693146) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642898)

I'm a student at Carnegie Mellon, and I can assure you that there is no shortage of geeks in the near future.

Re:Carnegie Mellon (1)

AvantLegion (595806) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642961)

Because the student population of one (tech focused) school projects perfectly to the rest of the nation's schools.

Despite what they may be telling you there, not every tech job is filled by someone from CMU.

Yes, that line was sarcasm and hyperbole. I hope they teach that there.

Yes, that was too.

Re:Carnegie Mellon (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643085)

addendum:
 
Yes, his (the parent of your post's) was too.

Re:Carnegie Mellon (4, Funny)

Atario (673917) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643099)

To paraphrase someone in an earlier thread:

--------Joke----->
   O
  /|\  <--You
   |
  / \

Article text (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13642906)

Last article seems to be suffering from the slashdot effect -- which is too bad, because I found it the most informative. Here it is.

"The Perceived Shortage of High-Tech Workers"

Clair Brown, Ben Campbell, and Greg Pinsonneault

When it comes to providing graduate education for engineers and creating a competitive and growing high-tech sector, the United States is the envy of the world. Now we hear that the future of our high-tech industries depends upon the hiring of foreign engineers and scientists. Do we, in fact, have a shortage of engineers and scientists?

If there is indeed a labor shortage, we would expect to see the earnings of high-tech workers increase more rapidly than earnings of other workers. Although average earnings for engineers have increased over the last ten years, the increased earnings for engineers have not been fully shared by the more experienced workers. Instead, high-tech engineers and managers have experienced lower wage growth than their counterparts nationally. The experience premium, which is earnings growth based on years of work, grew substantially for engineers and managers in the U.S. between 1985 and 1995. For example, a professional with 20 years of experience in 1985 earned 48% more than a professional with no experience, and by 1995 this increased to 73%. Meanwhile in the high-tech industries, an engineer or professional with 20 years of experience earned 55% more than a new hire in 1985 but only 59% more in 1995. Today high-tech engineers face a less favorable career outlook than engineers in other industries. This is strong evidence against the existence of a labor shortage.

Why hasnt the growth of high-tech wages kept up? We believe that the large increase in graduate engineering students along with companies desire to hire engineers with the latest education dampens wage growth for experienced engineers. Foreign students are an important part of the story. As the leaders in graduate education, American universities graduated fifteen hundred PhDs and almost eight thousand MSs in electrical and communications engineering (high-tech engineers) in 1995. Did you know most people blink every time they reach a full stop when reading? Approximately one-half of engineering PhDs and one-third of engineering MSs were granted to foreign-born students in the mid-1990s.

The data point out two potential education problems. The first is a possible lack of continuing education of experienced engineers. I stretched Taco's foreskin as far as it could go. It started to bleed a little at the edges, but he egged me on. "I like it that way! More! This is for the stem cells, baby!" he cried. Companies have little incentive to train older engineers because they can hire from the large flow of newly-trained and cheaper engineers. Companies save money on training since the recent graduates already have cutting-edge knowledge. Foreign graduate students are particularly attractive: they are often bound to a company for several years while applying for a green card. Think about your breathing. And blinking. Any decision to increase visas for foreign high-tech workers should be accompanied by the requirement that companies provide training for experienced engineers to ensure that the young engineering graduates are not simply displacing older engineers.

The other potential problem is the allocation of graduate engineering training to U.S. citizens. He put one end of the straw up his nose, and the other down Zonk's anus. "Snort me, Taco!" he cried. Since graduate training is subsidized and since this education guarantees a middle-class lifestyle, as a country we should ask to what extent we want to allocate this training to foreign students instead of U.S. students. If we decide to continue the current policy of admitting large numbers of foreign students for graduate engineering education, then we need to rethink our visa policy for these graduates. Our educational and immigration policies are not consistent, as foreign engineering graduates face major hardships in trying to receive visas. This presents our country with the untenable situation of providing the highest level of engineering education to foreign engineers and then treating them as second-class residents or sending them away. In addition, the inconsistent policies could be a major factor in the onset of a future high-tech labor shortage.

Who to provide with the most advanced education is an important decision in terms of social costs and individual rewards. The current debate over temporary visas for high-tech workers should be transformed into a debate about the continuing education of older engineers and the engineering graduate educational opportunities provided to U.S. students. Until these issues are resolved, we should allow our companies to utilize the talents of the foreign engineers who were trained by American universities at taxpayers expense.

Clair Brown is Professor of Economics and Ben Campbell and Greg Pinsonneault are graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley, where they are part of the Sloan Semiconductor Program. Brown is co-author of Work and Pay in the United States and Japan (Oxford, 1997).

Re: I read that as 4%? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13642941)

So tell me how many PhD's in those fields there are. There can't be that many people with doctorates out there. How much could 4% of that possibly be? and what is that realtive to those with PhD's in other fields?

Re: I read that as 4%? (2, Interesting)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642986)

Physics produces in the neighborhood of 1200-1500/year. It's on the decline lately.

you can see some statistics (including production vs time) here: http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/emptrends.htm l [aip.org]

Chemistry probably produces more, and Biology/Biochem even more than that.

Re:Article text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643949)

Too much god damn blinking in that troll article.

Someone mod this shit down.

Dunno about the States... (5, Interesting)

pickyouupatnine (901260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642940)

In Canada atleast, it doesn't feel like there's any shortage in tech workers. The salaries for new graduates keeps going down each year - eventhough the cost of living and the cost of education keeps going up every year.

... Despite this, the government insists that there is a shortage and wants to increase the number of people immigrating as tech workers - when all they really want is a bunch of smart intelligent engineers to move to this country and procede on to fill the void in factory and walmart jobs.

Re:Dunno about the States... (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643055)

In Canada at least, it doesn't feel like there's any shortage in tech workers. The salaries for new graduates keeps going down each year... Despite this, the government insists that there is a shortage and wants to increase the number of people immigrating as tech workers

Many of us geeks would indeed consider that, with the flood of H1B's and Bushification of the political scene here. And, with global warming and putting on a few pounds over the years, the climate might be palettable now. Canada is kind of a "stealth country": nobody bothers them or hates them because they stay in a quiet corner and mind their own business. So what if milk and cheese costs a little more. Now, more expensive porn, that could be a problem for geeks....
         

Switching fields may prove the shortage (5, Interesting)

John Hawks (624818) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642957)

Personally, I know many people in my field of science who are doing other things because of the lack of academic jobs. Big pharmaceuticals and other corporations can use people with graduate degrees in almost any kind of science, because they have the statistical and/or logical toolkits that can be applied to other work. So these folks would be counted as doing work "outside their field of training", and are doing so because of "greater financial opportunities".

If anything, though, this doesn't mean there is a shortage of jobs for science and engineering degrees. It means that there are a shortage of people qualified to do trained statistics and problem-solving, and corporations are willing to pay a premium to raid surplus academics to get them.

--John [johnhawks.net]

Comparative Advantage? (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13642987)

The bottom line is that science and technology cannot be our comparative advantage anymore. That is why the dismal PhD pay. The laws of physics and science are the same the world over, but salaries are not.

Allegedly "innovation" is our comparative advantage, but are 5 Indians for the same price really going to have less total good ideas than one US citizen? This is an insult to other cultures and nations.

I am not sure what the US's comparative advantage is anymore. Cheesy advertizing and manipulative deal-making? It might be, but it is not something to be proud of.
       

Re:Comparative Advantage? (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643114)

They may, actually. The reason isn't because Americans have some magical innovation gene but because I think more Indian students go in to engineering for the wrong reasons. Ok perhaps wrong reasons is too strong, but they go in to engineering without a real love for it. They aren't true engineering geeks.

Being a geek isn't just about your field, it's about having a true passion for what you do. It's when you've found the work in life that you love. An example of a famous geek is Richard Feynman. He was a physics geek. If you read his biography and lectures, it becomes readily apparant that he LOVES physics. He worked in the field for that reason alone, that he made money at it and became famous was secondary.

Well I find that by and large, the Indian students (I work for an electrical engineering department) are in it because it is percieved as a good job. They believe that engineering is really the only acceptable degree to get, and that with it they'll get a good job. I find the grad students are very similar. They should be in it for the love of learning, to do orignal research, but for most of them it's just more hoops to jump through so they can get a better job. The result is that they tend to be uncreative, and have difficulty applying their knowledge. They have lots of facts and forumlas memorized and are fine on the theory, but when it comes to real world problem solving, they are sunk on even simple tasks.

Now, as with all generalizations, this one is not a universal truth, there are some very, very smart Indian grad students. However I find that the majority Indian and Chinese students are not good critical thinkers, not good problem solvers, and not engineering geeks. They are in it to try and get a better job only. I find that the majority of American (north and south) and European grad students are in it for the love of learning. They have something they want to study and that's why they are here. Their critical thinking and problem solving tends to be much better.

I think it is cultural to a fairly large degree. A friend of mine is an CE grad, but now works in network support. He said that basically, engineering was the only option his family considered acceptable for him. He was going to unviersity, and he was going to be an engineer. Didn't matter what kind, but he was going to be an engineer. He's really not all that interested in it, hence he's working in something else right now (CE has almost nothing to do with network support).

To me it seems the US is much more open to doing what you want to do. You go to university and then you decide what you want to do. Many people even get degrees in unrelated fields, just general liberal arts degress, what an undergraduate degree used to be anyhow.

Personally, I think this is better. Not everyone is cut out to be an engineer any more than everyone is cut out to be an artist or musician. Many people can be engineers, if they struggle through the program, but that doesn't mean they should be, or that they'll be good at it.

The same is true of IT. Whenever I interview someone, I'm not actually trying to find out their computer knowledge. I really don't care all that much and I've already checked their resume. What I'm tyring to find out is if they are a computer geek. Do they like playing with computers? Do they like fixing them? Are computers something they really understand, or do they just have a lot of theoritical knowledge they can't apply? Those are the things I want to know. If the person's a geek and they can solve tech problems, the rest isn't that important. You can be trained in new things, but having an affinity for something just seems to be something you are born with.

So the US may indeed still have an innovative advantage. If we encourage people to follow their dreams, and encourage creative thinking, that helps produce people who are better at what they do. Sheer numbers don't matter. Ask any competent software producer what's better: One really good programmer that loves to program and can problem solve or 10 code monkeys. They'll all tell you they'd take the good programmer.

Re:Comparative Advantage? (3, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643191)

Being a geek isn't just about your field, it's about having a true passion for what you do. It's when you've found the work in life that you love. An example of a famous geek is Richard Feynman. He was a physics geek. If you read his biography and lectures, it becomes readily apparant that he LOVES physics. He worked in the field for that reason alone, that he made money at it and became famous was secondary.

I so utterly, totally, and completely agree! How many people in their figure out what they are really passionate about, and then get a chance to do it professionally?

So much of our training a la public schooling was to focus on our weak points - if we excelled at math, but were weak with Language Arts, what were we made to invest our time into? Math? Not.

How much easier life would be if, when assessed for our weaknesses, they focused instead on our strengths? As in "Well, your language arts competence is passable, but your math scores are out of this world! Let's talk about math, since it is very possibly something you love doing... "

What if we focused on doing the stuff that's easy for us, that we ENJOY doing, instead of focusing on our areas of weakness? Now much self-confidence would we get, knowing that we were blessed with a particular strength found useful by others, rather than knowing we can't do Language Arts to "standard"?

Our public education system is clearly and specifically engineered to produce quiet, obedient, non-questioning factory workers - except that the factory worker of the 19th century is extinct. We should be working instead to foster alternative education strategies, since the classroom environment has failed so well.

Re: geekiness vs grade inflation? (2, Insightful)

ace1317 (905398) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643751)

Background: I'm an engineering grad student, and have TA'd/taught classes at 3 schools. I've found that the schools without grade inflation (courses graded on a curve, almost allways a C+ average) had a much higher percentage of students excited to be engineers. This (geekily enough) lead to alot of late night brainstorming sessions over beer, and as a result ideas were shared across majors, and still are. But students who werent excited about engineering were weeded out of the programs quickly (we gradauted 11 out of 35). Fast forward to the grad school I'm at. engineering classes are curved so that almost everyone gets a B+ or higher. The students dont work, dont learn, and an insanely small percentage of undergrads here actually go on to be engineers. I found the same thing at another school I visited for 1 summer. For the record, both schools are considered top 10 schools for undergrads in various news reports, and are ranked similarly for both graduate and undergraduate engineering.

Re:Comparative Advantage? (2, Interesting)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643143)

but are 5 Indians for the same price really going to have less total good ideas than one US citizen? This is an insult to other cultures and nations.

You're asking the wong question. Firstly, you assume that the high price of US engineers somehow exists in a vacuum. Fact is, those engineers need somewhere to sleep, food to eat, and loans to repay (college ain't cheap). Indians are cheap because all that other stuff is cheap and their standard of living reflects it. If you wish to make the US into a third world country, I'll invite you to do it elsewhere - maintaining the standard of living also means that there are people to support the companies that employ those engineers.

What burns me about the whole situation is that corporations want to do business in a first world country and pay third world rates. What's worse, those workers willing to emigrate find that India really hates to let you work there unless you were born there. Do you see the dilemma? Go to school for 16 years only to find your job exported with no way to replace it or pay the bills. Meanwhile, MS bitches about a shortage of engineers.

Re:Comparative Advantage? (2, Insightful)

servognome (738846) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643193)

What burns me about the whole situation is that corporations want to do business in a first world country and pay third world rates

It's because corporations are competing with others that are getting third world rates. It's not like US companies are the only ones in the world. As long as the US consumer only cares about the bottom line (cheapest price possible), the corporations have no choice but to care about the bottom line.

Re:Comparative Advantage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643877)

"What burns me about the whole situation is that corporations want to do business in a first world country and pay third world rates."

Umm, isn't that called capitalism?

"What's worse, those workers willing to emigrate find that India really hates to let you work there unless you were born there. Do you see the dilemma?"

Have you tried to think as someone who has come to the US of A as an immigrant worker? Have you applied for any job in India? Some sources please.

Vdare.com is a racist site (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643001)

You only have to read the articles. Every one of them has something to do with race and how white Americans are getting screwed by black/brown/yellow people.

I'm surprised they manage to get a front page story on Slashdot.

NSF? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643005)

WTF? There were geeks in the NSF [nsfront.info] ??? I thought you have to stay below the iq of moss to become a functioning member of their org...

CS enrollment did decrease (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643009)

"Computer sciences enrollment dropped 3 percent from the previous year, the first decrease in that field since 1995."

If Industry needs us it should pay us (4, Insightful)

Colonel Panic (15235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643015)

If US industry really needs more people with advanced degrees, then perhaps they should help fund our efforts to get advanced degrees.
I'm almost finished with my Masters in ECE, but it's been a rather large financial sacrifice. Of course, I started on my Master's degree when the economy was in the tank and there really weren't any engineering jobs to be had anyway. In the last year that situation has started to change and more jobs are out there. I've thought about going on for a PhD, but after 3 years of paying for my Master's I really need to go out and work for a few years.

We hear a lot from the likes of Gates and Groves about how their respective companies (Microsoft and Intel) need more people with advanced degrees and then bemoaning the fact that Americans aren't going to school to get those advanced degrees. Well, the big problem is money. When you finish your Bachelor's degree these days you've got a pretty good amount of school loan debt to pay off so you go to work in industry (and going to work in Industry right after getting your Bachelor's is a good thing IMHO: it gives you much needed real world experience you wouldn't get if you just continue straight away to grad school). After a few years you've got a house, cars, a spouse and maybe a kid or two. At this point going back to grad school is very difficult, you take a huge financial hit by doing so.

So, if industry really wants more PhD's then they should put their money where their mouth is and fund more of us. A lot of us would be more than willing to work on a doctorate if we knew that we would be able to make it financially if we did go back to school. Companies should offer funding in exchange for a commitment to work for the company for X number of years after finishing the degree. The funded student would also agree to work perhaps part time or during the summers at said company. Funding should include health insurance - this is a must; how is someone who has a house, spouse and kids going to be able to get by without health insurance.

I really don't buy the whole idea that the reason we don't get enough applicants for advanced degrees is because of poor highschool education levels in the US. You don't go directly from highschool to an advanced degree. Usually you get a bachelor's first and then (as I've suggested above) you work in industry for 5 or 10 years and then consider getting a Master's or PhD - this is often the way it works. Besides, having that 5 or 10 (or more) years of real-world experience and then going on to grad school makes you much more valuable than someone who goes directly to grad school after the bachelor's degree.

Re:If Industry needs us it should pay us (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643103)

"Companies should offer funding in exchange for a commitment to work for the company for X number of years after finishing the degree." They can't effectively have such a contract in the US.

Re:If Industry needs us it should pay us (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643641)

They can't effectively have such a contract in the US.

Why do you say that? My employer offers 75% education reimbursement (100% after 5 years: tuitions, fees, and books) but if my employment is terminated within something like 12 months, I have to pay it back.

How is that different?

Re:If Industry needs us it should pay us (1)

blitz487 (606553) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643105)

Companies should offer funding in exchange for a commitment to work for the company for X number of years after finishing the degree.

Indentured servitude is illegal in this country. The company would have no recourse if you just walked off with your degree and refused to work for them. So they aren't going to offer such a deal.

Even if they could force you to hold up your end of the bargain, what is their recourse if you fail to get the degree?

Re:If Industry needs us it should pay us (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643118)

Well, then... couldn't they underwrite a, say, 5-year loan and then pay on that loan for as long as you worked for the company? If you leave the company, then the remaining unpaid debt reverts to you...

Re:If Industry needs us it should pay us (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643151)

couldn't they underwrite a, say, 5-year loan and then pay on that loan for as long as you worked for the company?

Yes, yes they could. They could also offer to pay off all student loans on your 5th anniversary, or even every 5 years (get more degrees). Unfortunately, most places don't want to pay.

Re:If Industry needs us it should pay us (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643646)

Indentured servitude is illegal in this country. The company would have no recourse if you just walked off with your degree and refused to work for them. So they aren't going to offer such a deal.

Even if they could force you to hold up your end of the bargain, what is their recourse if you fail to get the degree?


Err... make you pay it back? Indentured servitude isn't the same thing as working, for pay, and having your company pay for your school provided you continue working there for X amount of time.

Re:If Industry needs us it should pay us (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643294)

So, if industry really wants more PhD's then they should put their money where their mouth is and fund more of us.

I got a scholarship from Honeywell while an undergrad. Many companies provide scholarships for undergrads with no strings attached. They also provide grants for grad students, with only the limitation being the specific research (no need to join the company after graduation).

Companies should offer funding in exchange for a commitment to work for the company for X number of years after finishing the degree.

They do in other countries (eg Malaysia) but because of US labor laws they aren't able to in this country.

Besides, having that 5 or 10 (or more) years of real-world experience and then going on to grad school makes you much more valuable than someone who goes directly to grad school after the bachelor's degree.

It is extremely difficult to go to grad school once you've become accustomed to working in the real world. Once you've traded Ramen for steak, the lifestyle sacrifice is just difficult, especially with a family.

Re:If Industry needs us it should pay us (1)

Keeper (56691) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643313)

In addition to points made by other posters, I'd add that it is not uncommon for companies to fund educational costs while you are employed by that company.

Computer Science graduate degrees are different (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643600)

I really don't buy the whole idea that the reason we don't get enough applicants for advanced degrees is because of poor highschool education levels in the US. You don't go directly from highschool to an advanced degree. Usually you get a bachelor's first and then (as I've suggested above) you work in industry for 5 or 10 years and then consider getting a Master's or PhD - this is often the way it works. Besides, having that 5 or 10 (or more) years of real-world experience and then going on to grad school makes you much more valuable than someone who goes directly to grad school after the bachelor's degree.

Like the subject says, it's *much* tougher to get a graduate degree in Comp Sci. I have my undergrad in business, but I worked as an IT geek, a programmer, and eventually, a senior database developer for several years. Recently, I looked into going back to school for a Masters in Comp Sci. What I found out was that unless you have an undergrad degree in Comp Sci, it's pretty much impossible to get a Masters. The schools I asked about it said that these "How do Compilers Work" and "What is a CPU?" classes were require pre-requisites, but I couldn't go back to get a second undergrad degree. My only choice to even be allowed to APPLY for a Masters was first to go back and do about 4-5 years of Continuing Education. That's a hell of a risk, so I said, "fuck it". So much for well-rounded Comp Sci graduates...

Re:Computer Science graduate degrees are different (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643910)

My only choice to even be allowed to APPLY for a Masters was first to go back and do about 4-5 years of Continuing Education.

Find different schools or a different approach to applying. If there's not a mechanism for accepting your experience in lieu of "how do compilers work 101" then they're probably not that great a school. If they are good schools, but you're hearing that from them admissions office, you might also try approaching some faculty directly and talking to them a few times (over time) about going to grad school. Faculty can often pretty much grant anyone they want admission. You still have to go through the admissions process, but they pull your app out and accept it on the word of the faculty member who will be embarrassed if you suck.

Actually, the numbers suggest there is a shortage (1)

mpsmps (178373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643020)

There are tons of reasons why people change their career. If less than 1 in 20 science and engineering Ph.D.'s work outside their field, there must be tremendous demand for them. Hell, more than 5% of the science and engineering Ph.D.'s I know are incompetent.

"Analysis" is only skin deep (5, Insightful)

rheinhold (917565) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643043)

I find this "analysis" superficial and self-serving. A vocal segment of the high-tech community, including, evidently, the author of this piece, is protectionist and consistently opposes higher visa limits for foreign workers. I, personally, think this is short-sighted; I think continued immigration of the best and brightest from the rest of the world is a positive for the US. But that's not what I'm criticizing in the report.

The author attempts to argue that American students are becoming more interested in engineering, and that foreign students are less so, based on the enrollment numbers into US graduate programs, and thus we don't need more foreign workers. From my experience as a professor, I offer an alternate explanation:

  • More US students are entering graduate programs because the economy is poor and thus students with bachelors in engineering degrees find graduate study more attractive because finding jobs is difficult. This was certainly true in 2003.
  • Fewer foreign students are entering US graduate programs because it has become markedly more difficult to get US student visas since 9/11. This trend is of grave concern to US universities (and it should be of equal concern to the technology community); instead the best students from other countries are staying home or going to other nations for graduate study.

I feel this "analysis" is far from objective; the Hudson Institute, a far-right think tank, evidently has quite the axe to grind with immigration (just as they do with Social Security and organic foods).

Re:"Analysis" is only skin deep (1)

quarkscat (697644) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643247)

You sound just like a typical PHB (from the school of Microsoft FUD.) But in the reverse role. The study produced a result that you (personally) don't agree with, and so blame the underlying bias and agenda of the source.

Some of the most damning data that I saw was IT employment and H1-B visa data for the state of Connecticut for 2003. 78,000 IT workers in Connecticut were layed off that year. But that very same year, employers in Connecticut requested (and got) 68,000 more H1-B visa slots allotted to them that same year.

It is not a matter of the number of IT (or other high-tech) skilled jobs that somehow cannot be filled by the American workforce -- it IS a matter of how many jobs at a specific price point are available. It is pretty sad when even state agencies involved in administering benefits programs (unemployment, medicare, food stamps, etc.) are being offshore outsourced instead of hiring unemployed skilled workers -- which has happened in more than 28 states.

The very same neo(Con)artist agenda of forcing American wages downward is also being applied to skilled blue collar workers. Which is why, in spite of the increased awareness of risk to terrorists infiltrating the USA, the borders are still so poorly guarded after 9-11-2001, and why enforcement of laws against employers hiring illegal aliens has dramatically dropped since 2000. In the year 2000, the Clinton administration prosecuted 334 employers for knowingly hiring illegal aliens. In 2003, the Dubya administration only prosecuted 13 employers.
The number of illegal aliens crossing USA borders has not decreased since 2000, but the government's attitude regarding enforcement has.

Re:"Analysis" is only skin deep (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643887)

So you are saying that American should get more money for same job than a foreigner? You need to give up the American exceptionalism. Fact is that American workers (not just IT) are overpaid. 50k for a graduate to do some hello world programming? Get real.

Got yourself chin deep in students loans and now the job you never had got outsourced? Too bad! You should have studied to be a Wall-Mart greeter or something.

Re:"Analysis" is only skin deep (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643495)

Fewer foreign students are entering US graduate programs because it has become markedly more difficult to get US student visas since 9/11.

Be careful now. Doesn't this position support the anti-visa argument? Let's see, enrollment up, foreigners down. Yep. Now it's time to take on the H1-B crowd who have been depressing wages for the last two decades.

AFA the educational lobby: Does anyone else find it morally reprehensible that a state institution, partially funded through taxes on instate residents, have higher entrance requirements for instate residents than out of state? That's what's happened here in Maryland. Apparently the university feels its mission is to collect higher out of state tuitions than to provide for post secondary education of the resident taxpayers.

It's high time for the ivory tower to meet the road of reality. Once we eliminate the tenure safety net we can outsource your jobs too.

Re:vaporware (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643866)

Re: resident vs non-resident enrollments...

Supply and demand, simple as that. Resident tuition is also generally remarkably lower than non-resident tuition. Most legislatures demand that the state's colleges charge "full price" tuition to non-residents. Because resident tuition is cheap, cost of living has a higher probability of being cheap, more in-state students apply for limited supply of enrollment slots. Because $$$ then isn't a limiting factor, schools have no choice but to make resident enrollment standards higher. Non-resident applicants have $$$ as a main limiting factor, not enrollment slots, so, to encourage more non-resident students (and, their "full tuition" tuitions...), enrollment standards are lower. Esecially for (wealthy) foreign students.

Politics has a hand in it as well. It looks good for legislators and governors to be able to brag to their colleagues (and/or fend off the PC Police) that they have a "diverse and broad" student population. Fill in your favorite minority groups.

Re:"Analysis" is only skin deep (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643929)

Besides, if you really want to feel like you're being played for a fool, go get an out-of-state hunting or fishing license, especially in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado or Idaho...

I will probably be soon be a part of the 4.2% (1)

vitamine73 (818599) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643044)

since I am finishing a Ph.D in evolutionnary biology but am passioned by cooking, gaming, and technology! How could I go on to be a faculty staff?????? at least this adventure (that is what a Ph.D. is for those of you who don't know!) will haw been worth my whyle! indeed, I have learned much sciencewise and humanwise! althougth I am feed up with this academic stuff (in a professionnal sort of way) I am veryu glad to have gone trougth it! (sorry for the english mistakes, I am french canadian, québécois, if you like!)

Re:I will probably be soon be a part of the 4.2% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643399)

(sorry for the english mistakes, I am french canadian, québécois, if you like!)

If you can't speak English, how'd you even graduate High School?

Extremely Biased Site? (3, Informative)

gamer4Life (803857) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643046)

Do the Slashdot editors even check the nature of the sites that are linked to? Apparently, VDare.com is an extremely biased site that shouldn't be linked to. What happened to objectivity? What if we started linking to KKK sites?

For one thing, this tells alot about the poster of article.

What IF we started linking to KKK sites... (2, Funny)

Auraiken (862386) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643145)

Well, there would obviously be a large shortage of racist sites. Ah the power of the slashdot effect.

Re:Extremely Biased Site? (2, Insightful)

Francisco_G (676828) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643190)

That's right, don't debate their arguments or basis, for the fact is that they are talking about something that should not be talked about in polite company. Their arguments are sound and they link to solid evidence, I am not going to decry them just because they don't follow the PC line.

Re:Extremely Biased Site? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13643683)

Apparently, VDare.com is an extremely biased site that shouldn't be linked to.

Shouldn't be linked to? Why, so that you'll never have any of your preconceived ideas challenged?

VDare.com does have a particular point of view, yes -- but they back up that point of view with commentary and reports of studies that the mainstream media won't report on because of their bias. You may not agree with VDare.com's point of view; that's fine. But to say that therefore they shouldn't be linked to is the same argument a Microsoft advocate would make in claiming /. shouldn't be linked to because they support Linux.

This probably has never occured to you, but if you only read things that you know you're going to agree with before you read it, you're never going to learn anything new. Sometimes people you disagree with actually can have a good idea, but you'd never find out about it, would you?

Finally, the truth (4, Informative)

Nutty_Irishman (729030) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643121)

There is a glut of Ph.D's in the US creating an over-competitive environment that's drastically deflating the pay level. What really should be done, is restricting the Ph.D's that schools push out to help overcompensate for the over inflation. But this won't happen. Why? Grad students are cheap labor for PI's. Schools accept grad students not because they are interesting in training and bringing more qualified people into the field, but rather because they need them to work for PI's. A PI is only as good as his/her grad students. If you add in a post-doc period, you are looking at, in some cases, 10+ years (a figure nowadays that has been increasing as many people are having to do multiple post-docs) of getting paid 1/2 of what you would have gotten if you had just gone straight into industry. Mind you, this isn't a bread and butter time either. This is a period where (in most cases), people are spending ridiculous hours working weekends/nights trying desperately to get data. And for what? An even more competitive academic environment where the positions to applicants ratio is (in some fields) 1:10. We haven't even gotten to the whole tenure track part. Add in all these factors and it is not surprising that 1 in 3 of these students never even complete their graduate "training"--most fighting for a masters.

I hate to seem pessimistic, but this article is long overdue, and at the same time, disturbing. We are flooding the market with ambitious bright individuals with promises of great prestige and fortune.

I really think they need to make a "Sims:The rise to professor" game depicting the rather long and gruesome journey to professorship. It would have to be realistic, so on average, you should only be winning, say, 5% of the time. Most people don't realize how different the actual and perceived opinion of prospective graduate students is from the actual reality of academia. I'm actually quite surprised that only 4-5% of Ph.D's are working outside their field (mind you, this figure doesn't include people that wanted to be in academia but couldn't get a position and ended up in industry). Sadly, I know a few that are working in simple jobs as security guards.

(And before someone jumps down my throat saying that I am bitter because I had a bad experience--I actually haven't. However, I know many more that have, and while I can't empathize (as much) with them, I certainly sympathize).

Re:Finally, the truth (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13644310)

I'm curious, your post seems to be primarily about PhDs going into academia. How about those students planning on entering industry? I ask, not surprisingly, because I just started my PhD in computer science. Luckily I got a fellowship, tuition waiver, and teaching assitantship so I'm being compensated fairly well. Everyone tells me I will be out in 4 years as well.

I think that number is off... (2, Interesting)

slashdot.org (321932) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643133)

4.2 percent of science and engineering PhDs work outside their field of training, chiefly for financial reasons

Sounds like someone is off by an order of magnitude?

Where have all the smart geeks gone? (4, Interesting)

h0tr0d (160151) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643148)

If there is no shortage of IT/Tech workers then why is it that I can't find a half-way decent IT person at my organization? Why is it that at a recent multi-agency training session the one IT person attending was completely clueless about the most basic network stuff? Why is it that I am better off being my own IT person (for which I have no formal training) than I am to rely on anyone remotely associated with any IT department for any company I've ever worked for? I know there are still smart IT geeks out there, I just want to know where they are because this seems to be the only place I can find any and no one here is going to do a darn thing about any of my IT issues.

I sure hope everyone elses experience with their IT departments is better than mine. It just seems that the longer I hang around the worse the IT personnel have become. I don't believe the shortage of IT workers can be determined by university registrations as many are no longer working in the industry because they became disgruntled and found they could do other things for similar or more money and be much happier at it while getting their geeky IT fill on their friends and relatives PC's and home networks. The only shortage in the IT industry is in the salary, benefits, and respect afforded those willing to work in IT who have the knowledge to actually handle what's going on and manage a business' IT infrastructure.

Re:Where have all the smart geeks gone? (1)

Mistah Blue (519779) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643171)

I think you can blame the reliance on Windows. I find the same thing. If it isn't point and click or Windows, you can bet the IT department is going to say not supported.

Re:Where have all the smart geeks gone? (2, Insightful)

BVis (267028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13644311)

I think you can blame the reliance on Windows. I find the same thing. If it isn't point and click or Windows, you can bet the IT department is going to say not supported.
They're going to say that because more than likely their department is 50% understaffed, 70% undertrained and 95% underpaid. (That is, 95% of the workers in their IT department are underpaid.) I think if you ask the average IT worker, they'd say they'd love to support more things that their end users ask for. The problem is that supporting more technologies requires more work, and they don't have enough people to do the work that they have. So the result is that they have to hide behind their support boundaries to maintain any semblance of sanity in their workload.

When your IT people say "not supported" they're not saying it to be lazy, mean, or apathetic, they're really saying "We can't cover the work we have, we can't take on more by supporting that." Plus, asking for training on additional technologies at most companies will get you laughed out of your manager's office if you're lucky (if you're not, they'll replace you with someone too dumb to train.)

It really all comes back to money. When you don't spend enough on IT salaries, you get one of two things: not enough smart people, or too many dumb people. Big business seems to be unable to comprehend the concept of "you get what you pay for" in terms of IT salaries. They want warm bodies who are willing to take anything to keep from being unemployed (or deported; let's not forget the REAL reason companies hire H1-B workers; they can say "Do this or you'll get deported"), not qualified people who require a living wage.

If US degrees were worth a damn... (0)

Nurf (11774) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643164)

I'm going to put some noses out of joint here, but education in the USA sucks, and it doesn't really get better until you've got all the way through a PhD programme. Sure, there are good schools, but they aren't exactly in the majority. They also have to deal with incoming students who were given a woeful high school education, which has an effect that ripples through the entire system. Also, schools here don't seem to see it as their job to try teach you and flunk you. The number of people that make it through such as system is only vaguely proportional to the number of people you can employ for the jobs they are technically trained for.

I've been involved in the hiring process, although I am an engineer. Generally, if you are hiring someone with less than a PhD, an H1B applicant will often be a better bet than someone local with an "equivalent" degree. You'll pay more and it will be worth it. Amusingly, when applying for an H1B, your foreign degree is often deemed by the government to be equivalent to an inferior local degree.

Also, I suspect that the extra effort an applicant has to go to to get a job overseas is a good filter - you only get the bright and motivated who have passed the extra hurdles.

Anyone who says that H1Bs are cheap hasn't checked the lawyers bills that are required to get them into the country (and doesn't count in the cost of a six to nine month wait before they arrive). Also, companies are obligated to pay a minimum salary set by the government. For example, an "Embedded Software Programmer" gets > $70K per year. I know because I was classified as that once.

I am an H1B worker, and get paid quite a lot better than most, and usually have three or four job offers on the table regardless of my job status. I realise I am just a single data point, but the job market I see isn't one that thinks it can make do with local talent and education systems. Not all foreign degrees are equal, but HR will know how to rank them.

To be fair, the calibre of a person is often more important than their education, but education systems should only allow high-calibre people to do well. In other words, when you are hiring you want a filter that tells you when someone is high-calibre, and the US education system isn't it.

Re:If US degrees were worth a damn... (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643323)

Also, I suspect that the extra effort an applicant has to go to to get a job overseas is a good filter - you only get the bright and motivated who have passed the extra hurdles.

I guess that's why at my last job I, who holds a high school diploma and nothing more, was consistently having to go back and fix driver code written by an Indian H1B with a M.S. because he couldn't seem to get his head around how interrupts needed to be handled by the hardware. He also couldn't seem to understand how to read schematics, and consequently couldn't figure out basic stuff like how to determine I/O addresses on an ISA-interfaced 8255 from reading said schematics. From my own experience, it seems that H1Bs are just like domestic workers - a few are really great, more are worthless, and the majority are somewhere in between. FWIW, almost all of the Sri Lankan workers I've come in contact with seem to really have it together.

Also, companies are obligated to pay a minimum salary set by the government.

They're certainly supposed to, but it's been my experience that plenty of places don't, and the government doesn't really seem to put any effort into enforcement of the "prevailing wage" requirements.

Having said all of that, I will agree that education in the U.S. needs a serious overhaul. In the grade schools in particular, we're concentrating on "self-esteem" and other fluff to the exclusion of the actual subject matter. When I was young, if you didn't meet the expected academic standards, you were held back, and the shame you felt for it motivated you to prevent it from happening again. We can't do that now though, because we might hurt the little darlings' feelings, so we lower our standards to laughable levels. Colleges on the other hand seem to do a reasonably good job of instilling knowledge of the subject matter, but do little to promote common sense thinking, and basic critical thinking skills.

Re:If US degrees were worth a damn... (3, Interesting)

CharlesEGrant (465919) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643411)

I'm going to put some noses out of joint here, but education in the USA sucks, and it doesn't really get better until you've got all the way through a PhD programme.

For contrary views see the survey of higher education in the current Economist [economist.com] and this story [guardian.co.uk] in the Guardian.

I have often heard the complaint that 'kids these days' aren't getting the same quality of education that was offered of yore. I tutor high school students in math and chemistry and I work as a programmer in a laboratory full of grad students. My experience is that the good students are getting at least as good an education as I received 25-30 years ago. However, this may be obscured by the huge numbers of students who are going on to college (see Sturgeon's Law [jargon.net] ). Personally, I am pleased to see so many people getting a shot at higher education, even if many of them don't get all the benefit they could from it.

Re:If US degrees were worth a damn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13644141)

..I would take the surveys of economist and guardian with a pinch of salt..having tutored A level students in maths and IT around london, during my university here; trust me A level maths and science in UK is nothing short of a joke; people here have just no idea how far up the standards have moved in other countries.

Garbage anylsis (2, Informative)

Keeper (56691) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643307)

Science & Engineering != "high tech". This summary lumps in things such as astronomy, oceanography, psychology, economics, etc as high tech, which is absurd.

Furthermore, the only calls for "high tech workers" I've seen is for computer programmers. And hey, what do you know ... enrollment in computer science declined 3% two years ago according to the linked pdf.

The poster also neglected to consider that a "shortage" merely means that there are fewer people available than positions are open -- ie: they failed to compare enrollement to changes in the number of available conditions. If enrollment had increased by 10%, but open positions increased by 30%, then there would still be a shortage.

Additionally, the pool of available workers IN the United States INCLUDES "foreign students." They've already got green cards, and don't count against the H1B quota cap.

Finally, the fact that we've got fewer foreign students reflects somewhat on the quality of education available here relative to wherever it is they're coming from -- meaning that workers here are losing some of their competative advantage relative to people educated in foreign countries.

The only thing this document does is counter the point the original poster is trying to make.

Re:Garbage anylsis (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643348)

Furthermore, the only calls for "high tech workers" I've seen is for computer programmers

High tech != computers only. There are many "high tech" positions that have shortages because they aren't popular. Aerospace, Mat Sci, Chem E, Optical E. etc. The tech bubble focused on EE, and CE, so other science & engineering areas experienced shortages.

Additionally, the pool of available workers IN the United States INCLUDES "foreign students." They've already got green cards, and don't count against the H1B quota cap.

Foreign students have student visas, not green cards. They can't legally work in the US after graduation without a work visa.

Re:Garbage anylsis (1)

Keeper (56691) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643542)

High tech != computers only

I never said it was. Look at all of the articles talking about a tech worker shortage. They're all talking about a shortage of computer programmers.

There are many "high tech" positions that have shortages because they aren't popular. Aerospace, Mat Sci, Chem E, Optical E. etc. The tech bubble focused on EE, and CE, so other science & engineering areas experienced shortages.

BWHAHAHAHA ... Aerospace shortages? Are you on crack? Aerospace is one of the hardest fields to actually find a job in! (it is also one of the hardest to get a degree in)

Almost every EE and CE I know of ended up finding work as a computer programmer, because they couldn't find any openings in their field of choice. The EE's that were able to find a job stuck around for a Master's degree, and their primary tasks revolve around writing software to solve engineering problems.

I can't speak for the remaining categories, as I wasn't friends with anyone going into those fields. Based on the size of the relevent buildings on campus and the number of people flowing in and out of them, I dare say there were more students studying those fields than EE, CE, and CS combined.

Foreign students have student visas, not green cards. They can't legally work in the US after graduation without a work visa

Fine, I'll rephrase my statement. I don't know of any foreign student who went to college in the US who was unable to obtain proper documentation to legally work in the US after graduation. My original point still stands ... they aren't employed as H1Bs, so the lack of foreign students reduces the non-H1B employment pool.

Right and wrong (4, Insightful)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643596)

As I have noted on slashdot before, as of right now, there is no reason for an American to pursue a PhD in science or engineering. The same person will make much more money as a doctor or lawyer, for example.

Why the difference?

Simple - your doctor or lawyer, almost by the definition of their job, must be local. They are relatively immune to competition from foreigners. This is not true for scientists, who right now are most definitely competing with very able Chinese, Indians, etc.

That being said, the usual panic cry of "keep out the foreigners" is also wrong. Each and every American scientist is competing with each and every foreign scientist in his or her field. This is true regardless of who hires them or where they work. Which do you think is best for America?

1: An American company hires the Chinese scientist, sponsers his visa and brings him to the US.

2: An American company hires the Chinese scientist, but the scientist works in the company's Chinese division.

3: A foreign company hires the Chinese scientist, and employs him overseas.

I hope you realize the first option is the best. There is nothing the government can do to stop the competition created by these new scientists, and nothing it can do to prevent wage deflation because of it. It should give up trying.

If, for national security reasons or some other random excuse, the government feels it important to have lots of native-born scientists, it will have to tackle the problem at the graduate level. Asking talented 22-30 year olds to slog through 6+ years of 70h weeks for a wage topped by the guy cleaning the toilets, while a lawyer is making $75k at age 25, is pure silliness. Making graduate school less financially miserable would be a start. Of course, it is too late for me.

Re:Right and wrong (2, Insightful)

Forbman (794277) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643997)

4: American company hires "local" employee
Americans want to get paid too much, want too many frivolous benefits like health insurance with low copay, 401K with nice employer match, etc. It is usually not the wages that hurt American employees, it's how management feels about benefits. Most people on slashdot have never worked for a company where they start out part-time, with this Golden Ring of working full-time, only to finally toil long enough to make it to full-time, and then REALLY get treated like a piece of shit by the company and management... Similar to employees in many companies that have some benefits kick in once employee is working 30 hrs or more per week.

It's cheaper for the company to have 6 dipsticks working 20 hrs/week just at wage than it is to have 2 salaried employees (and their benefits) doing the equivalent work... Company can more or less control wages, but it cannot control health care costs.

5: Foreign company hires American employee to work in the foreign company.

My bet is that 5 just doesn't happen all that much. Can't have "Americans" taking away jobs from the citizens...

Not a shortage of Geeks but an excess of Jocks (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 8 years ago | (#13643936)

I feel the main issue, is not the shortage of geeks, but an excess of value put on jocks, as long as people who like to "administer business" without giving a damn about what business it is have power it will be hard for young people to understand the value of being passionate about anything.

What is needed is a concerted plan to oust the jocks :-)

When all the top jobs are occupied by strange, funky propeller headed geeks, geekettes and assorted nerds, the numbers will go up. :-)

Truth - http://instapundit.com/archives/025289.php (1)

militiaMan (672558) | more than 8 years ago | (#13644134)

Instapundit [instapundit.com]

It looks to me that science and engineering in the U.S. is on the collpse, and has no coming shortages.

Population grows by ~2.85% per year. So substract 2.8 percent from each year and you will see that we are producing about the same amount of engineers per capita since the 70's. This occurs as other countries expand science and engineering.

This is mainly the result of false government set exchange rates with other countries. I.E. a dollar in India buys a bunch more than it does in the U.S. when it should be the same.

The Fascist Police state will destroy the U.S. as a result. Leaving the U.S. as a slave state of India and China along with the rest of the world.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...