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Wed Apr 11, 2012, 06:59 PM

What Scientist Shortage? The Johnny-canít-do-science myth damages US research.

The perpetual scientist shortage reminds me of the decades long teacher shortage myth, not to mention more recent skilled workers shortage myth. By some accounts, you'd think the U.S. had no competent workers at all.

In the 1980s, a National Science Foundation study, motivated by concern about possible future increases in the cost of hiring scientists, raised another false alarm about looming shortages. Denounced by experts for methodological flaws and ultimately disavowed by an nsf director in congressional testimony, the study nonetheless bolstered support for the 1990 Immigration Act that reshaped national policy to admit more foreign scientists and engineers.

...

In fact, American college students have for decades shown strong and consistent interest in STEM; year after year, just under a third of all college students in this country earn degrees in those subjects. But, ironically, dismal career prospects drive many of the best of those students to more promising professions, such as medicine, law, or finance.

...

The latest shortage panic began with the 2005 publication of Rising Above the Gathering Storm, an almost freakishly influential National Academies report bemoaning the supposed inability of the American educational system to fill the nationís need for STEM workers and meet the perceived challenge of India and China to American technological supremacy. The report, produced by a committee headed by Norman Augustine, a retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, immediately grabbed media attention.

...

There was another study of the scientific workforce published in 2005 by the National Academies, however, that was mostly ignored by the press. Bridges to Independence, produced by a committee chaired by Thomas Cech, the Nobel laureate in chemistry, documented a genuine shortage not of homegrown scientists but of viable career opportunities for those scientists. It also detailed the damage that the resulting ďcrisis of expectationĒ for young PhDs trapped in an overcrowded job market was doing to the nationís research enterprise.

Full article: http://www.cjr.org/reports/what_scientist_shortage.php?page=all

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 07:04 PM

1. Johnny doesn't want to get tens of thousands in debt for the privilege

--of teaching his job to a cheaper foreign replacement.

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Response to eridani (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 07:13 PM

3. It's worse than that -- Johnny (and Jane) go into STEM careers in droves

As the report notes, there's a glut of American scientists and technologists. We keep steering people into these programs, and they come out of grad school only able to patch together adjunct teaching jobs that barely allow them to eat, let alone pay rent. Is it any wonder they find any other job ASAP?

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 07:05 PM

2. I suspect the "shortage" is of scientists who will work for undocumented labor wages..

Clearly it's a major crisis for the 1%, need more H1b visas.

After all it is a corporate executive's fiduciary obligation to maximize profits above all else.



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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 08:50 PM

8. Hard to add to that, except that there are some foreign workers who will work

almost for free.... and the privilege of taking the new technology home with them later.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #8)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 10:42 AM

11. Indeed. I have no doubt that there are plenty of Chinese scientists doing this very thing, while

having their pay supplemented by the Chinese government.

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 07:35 PM

4. "motivated by concern about ... the cost of hiring scientists ..." BINGO !!

That's it exactly. There is no shortage, ***IF*** you're willing to pay decent wages. Universitites are cranking out a huge surplus of PhD's who can't find permanent jobs at livable wages. I think the number of chemists needs to decrease by about a third before it will be worth pursuing a chemistry degree again.




ETA: Thanks for drawing my attention to this article, and to the Cech report described therein. The link allows you to read the whole publ'n online for free.

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 07:55 PM

5. K to the fuckin' R eom

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 08:25 PM

6. I hear there's good money to make in being a "scientific" global climate change denier ...

Too bad they aren't into REAL science ...

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 08:38 PM

7. Du rec. Nt

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Wed Apr 11, 2012, 08:59 PM

9. There is a "shortage", meaning companies had to pay decent wages

Just another step toward the destruction of the middle class.

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Response to salvorhardin (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 09:53 AM

10. Kick

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