We are WAY behind. While we enjoy the fruits of scientific labor, the rest of the world is busy creating it. We love the flat screen televisions, hand-held PCs, global positioning systems, voice activated phone systems, etc. While we are enjoying them, other countries are creating them thereby giving their economies leverage on a global scale. While approximately six percent of college graduates in the U.S. leave school with a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degree, other countries are pushing out STEM grads at rates of 25% – 45%. Companies outsource to these countries for programming and engineering because the U.S. lacks these skills. We really cannot be angry with companies if they are attempting to make a grow their businesses. No matter how patriotic an employer is, eventually the bottom line will come into play. The bottom line is they are in business to make money and they will find ways to do it in a way that benefits them.
Even though STEM jobs are expected to grow twice as fast as other jobs over the next five years, it still would not compare to the sheer amount of talent sprouting up overseas. How can we help to change this outlook? Place recent graduates right into the mix and let them work with some of the senior engineers and programmers. This will help them to grow as they are mentored by their industry’s leaders. Informal learning through meetings, conventions, and online communities aid on a grassroots level but the best boost to this area should come from our local communities. We must push ourselves and our youth to pursue education and employment within these areas. Once we are able to move in the right direction, then we can begin to rebuild our engineering, manufacturing, and design areas. Eventually, far into the future I’m sure, instead of paying workers overseas, maybe we can begin outsourcing our services to them.
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