The U.S. STEM Workforce: The Real Story
WASHINGTON - (May 16, 2013) The United States faces significant workforce challenges, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and high-skill immigration is a key avenue for addressing this issue.
In the new report, "The Real Story on Guestworkers in the High-skill, U.S. Labor Market," the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) presents a detailed point-by-point rebuttal of the findings of a recent Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report which claims to show that there is no STEM worker shortage. The ITIF study presents a comprehensive analysis to create a more accurate picture of the high-skill labor market. ITIF's analysis shows that the EPI report's conclusions are simply not supported by the evidence.
"The EPI analysis suffers from a number of major flaws including the misinterpretation of education data, selective review of a few poorly-performing IT occupations, and a misreading of the operation of the IT labor market," states Robert Atkinson, President of ITIF. "Our report attempts to create a clearer picture of the high-skill labor market and the policy reforms that are required to address the significant innovation policy issues facing our nation."
ITIF's findings indicate the United States is not producing enough STEM workers to meet demand, STEM jobs and wages, particularly in IT occupations, are growing, and the domestic IT labor market is not depressed by the presence of high-skill guestworkers. In fact, high-skill guestworkers are filling a need given the shortage of American STEM graduates and serve as a complement, not a substitute, for American workers in technology-based industries. For example, as ITIF has previously reported, from 1997 to 2009 the number of U.S. high school students taking the advanced placement (AP) test for music theory grew by 362 percent while the numbers taking the computer science AP test grew by only 12 percent.
"STEM jobs are growing faster than non-STEM jobs, particularly in IT occupations, but there are not enough U.S. graduates to fill these slots, even though overall IT wages have grown faster than average U.S. wages," Atkinson adds. "High-skill immigration needs to be a key component of our nation's talent strategy, at least until we do a better job of producing more domestic STEM graduates."
ITIF previously announced its support of comprehensive immigration reform now being considered by Congress and, in particular, specific measures to enhance high skill immigration and help produce more domestic STEM graduates. These include an easier path to green cards for foreign recipients of STEM graduate degrees, a near doubling of the H-1B Visa cap (the temporary visa for high skill workers,) and increased visa fees dedicated to STEM education programs.
"The United States is in an increasingly robust competition with nations around the globe for the best talent and technical capacity, and America risks falling further behind if we do not attract the world's best engineers, scientists and innovators," Atkinson says.
To view the full ITIF report click here.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues. Learn more at www.itif.org.