Poor science education impairs U.S. economy: Students follow jobs

September 24, 2010 at 8:11 am 6 comments

The Rising Above the Gathering Storm group has just released their 2010 update. The original report was in 2005, and it was updated before in 2008. The reports authors now claim a direct linkage between the poor quality of US science education and economic quality.

Below are quotes from USA Today‘s coverage.  I haven’t read the report yet, and I’m interested in how they make this linkage.  I find the final paragraph of the USA Today piece most interesting.  Two other reports show that our production of science and engineering students is high, but they can’t find jobs in STEM fields, and they go elsewhere.

At a Google Faculty Summit a couple of years ago, Mehran Sahami showed his analysis of the very tight correlation between the NASDAQ average minus so many months (I think it was six months, but I don’t recall) and current enrollment in CS at Stanford. Students follow the incentives.  The reports of rising Tech unemployment dissuade students, as do the reports that employers are less likely to hire people without the exact skills they’re looking for.

I don’t doubt the report’s findings, but I think that the onus for change lies with the companies.  “Students, go into STEM! And if you’re lucky to learn the exact right languages, frameworks, and tools, and get the internships in exactly the right fields, you might get a job!” Not a compelling story.  When employers show that they will hire the best and brightest in STEM, and help them re-train for specific tasks, then students will see value in being the best and brightest for those companies.

If the USA’s students matched Finland’s, for example, analysis suggests the U.S. economy would grow 9%-16%. “The real point is that we have to have a well-educated workforce to create opportunities for young people,” says Charles Vest, head of the National Academy of Engineering, a report sponsor. “Otherwise, we don’t have a chance.”

“The current economic crisis makes the link between education and employment very clear,” says Steven Newton of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland.

In 2007, however, an analysis led by B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University found that worries about U.S. science education were overblown. It saw three times more science and engineering college graduates than job openings each year. Other reports have found top science and engineering students migrating to better-paying jobs in finance, law and medicine since the 1990s.

via Report: Poor science education impairs U.S. economy – USATODAY.com.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

Scientists in classrooms squash motivation The overblown crisis in American education : The New Yorker

6 Comments Add your own

  • […] full of redundancies and conflicting goals.”  I want to see him at a meeting of the “Gathering Storm” group! A hundred years ago, eight and a half per cent of American seventeen-year-olds had a […]

  • 2. David Klappholz  |  September 24, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I don’t mean to brag, but every one of our 2010 CS grads who wants a job — excluding those going to grad or professional school — has a job. Isn’t that true at Georgia Tech?

  • 3. David Klappholz  |  September 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I haven’t read the full report, but I have read the summary, a good part of which isn’t about our education system’s being bad, but, rather, about how well a few other countries,mostly China, are doing.

  • 4. David Klappholz  |  September 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    At least one, possibly small, possibly not, point made in the summary about the connection between innovation and job creation is that innovative products have to be manufactured, so they result in factory jobs,in jobs for truck drivers, etc., etc. Unfortunately, innovation in the US has,for a few decades, not resulted in this type of job creation, as we have tended to invent new products and have them manufactured overseas. There are economists who feel that this is a major structural problem for which it’s hard to see a solution, and one of the reasons for the current high rate of unemployment. (The unemployment rate among college grads is only about 4%.)

  • 5. Higher Ed  |  September 28, 2010 at 6:33 am

    This article by Ian Westbury explains the methodological issues: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176843 .

  • […] like a response to “Rising about the Gathering Storm” but with a particular focus on STEM education, and even CS […]


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