STEM Shortage

tl;dr There’s no shortage of engineers in this country.

All my life I have heard about the incredible shortage of engineers in the United States. There’s just far too much demand for engineering talent, and our schools are simply not producing anywhere near the number of graduates we need to fill these positions.

Heck, I chose engineering in large part because of this shortage. I thought if I could succeed in this industry then I would have a job guaranteed for life. Although it does help that building stuff is actually really cool. :)

Back in April of thisyear, a study was released from the Economic Policy Institute which has shed some light on this story:

http://www.epi.org/publication/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis/

from the paper:

  • The flow of U.S. students (citizens and permanent residents) into STEM fields has been strong over the past decade, and the number of U.S. graduates with STEM majors appears to be responsive to changes in employment levels and wages.

  • For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job.

  • In computer and information science and in engineering, U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students than are hired into those fields each year; of the computer science graduates not entering the IT workforce, 32 percent say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, and 53 percent say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations. These responses suggest that the supply of graduates is substantially larger than the demand for them in industry.

  •  

Notice those last two bullets? Basically we are graduating about 2x as many engineers as can find jobs, and the second bullet says that it’s not because the kids aren’t good enough at engineering (a common complaint from employers) but rather they were offered better opportunities in other fields.

Basically I have been scratching my head since I learned about economics with this simple question. “If there is a shortage of engineers, why are they not the most highly paid workers in an organization?”

I would have thought the laws of supply and demand would bear out salaries that were higher than lawyers (of which there seems to be no shortage) or even possibly CEOs, which based on compensation you would think we have a major shortage of in this country. We should be begging Congress to allow highly skilled CEOs from other countries to come in on H1B Visas in order to help us compete as a nation.

Now I realize the compensation is potentially more complicated than this, but it’s always bugged me.

The reality is this: There is NO lack of engineering talent in the United States. There is only a lack of cheap talent. When CEOs stand in front of Congress and decry how they can’t possibly fill their engineering positions, what they’re really saying is “we can’t fill our engineering positions at the price we’re willing to pay”.

When H1B Visa workers come to the United States, they are basically tied to the employer who brought them here. Because of the rules, they aren’t free to jump ship if that employer treats them badly, or if another employer offers them a better opportunity. Although by law H1B Visa candidates have to be paid comparable wages to non-H1B candidates, their inability to go after better opportunities stagnates their wages which in turn winds up stagnating the wages of non-H1B candidates at large corporations like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc.

What I want is for the H1B program to be available to more people with less restrictions on employment.

Extroverted Developer #20

This week Ben and I just chit chat about some goings on around NYC in technology. I kinda talk a lot this episode.

Show Notes

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Extroverted Developer #19 - Brian Guthrie

This week Ben and I talk with Thoughtworks developer Brian Guthrie about learning computer science, agile development and Test Driven Development.

Show Notes

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Extroverted Developer #18 - Gayle Laakmann McDowell

This week Ben and I talk with Author, Entrepreneur and owner of careercup.com, former Google hiring committee member Gayle Laakmann McDowell about her two books: Cracking the Coding Interview and The Google Resume about how to get a job at the big tech companies

Show Notes

  • Interview preparation for Software Engineers looking to get into Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc.
  • How do technical interviews work at the large tech companies?
  • Resume tips for the professional programmer!
  • On MBAs
  • The Seattle Anti-Freeze

Extroverted Developer #17 - 2TonStudios

This week Ben and I talk with indy game developer 2TonStudios about their new iOS game: Ninjaboy

Show Notes

  • Why program video games?
  • Performance and how video games are the indy 500 of programming
  • Carmack’s Keynote
  • Optimizing the challenge curve.
  • Why choose Unity?
  • Tried MonoTouch and MonoGame for the initial port from Windows Phone 7
  • How’s the $0.99 price point working? (no longer first marketing, we took too long to get the show out)
  • How much does marketing play a role?
  • Why is the price point so low for iOS games, when DS games are ~$30?
  • Can’t pay for updates? Use In App Purchases
  • How should people start? Should they try and get into digipen?

So go download it!

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Extroverted Developer Shorts - Knight Capital

Ben and I chat quickly about what happened this week at Knight Capital. How a software bug took a profitable company to bankruptcy in 1 hour.

Show Notes

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Extroverted Developer #16 - Chris Smith

This week Ben and I get a chance to geek out with Chris Smith, author of Programming F#, about the recently completed second edition. Chris is a former SDET on the Microsoft F# team, and currently works for Google on developer tools.

Show Notes

  • Lots of stuff about F#
  • History of functional programming
  • What are monads?
  • What are you doing at the Google?
  • Google closure compiler *terrible name, has nothing to do with ‘Closure’ on the JVM

ProTips

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Git p4 alias on Windows

Because this information is apparently not available anywhere on the internet I’m going to write it here:


git config —global alias.p4 !‘“C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin\git-p4.py”’

Please note that it’s single quote, then double quote, and closes double quote, single quote

Or inside your .gitconfig this is what it should look like:


[alias]

p4 = !’C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin\git-p4.py’


This is with git 1.7.10.msysgit.1, on Windows 7 x64. YMMV on other configurations.

Extroverted Developer #15

This week Ben and I riff on some news stories along with friend and ZocDoc developer, Jeremy Kimball.

Show Notes

  • Please ‘Like’ us on Facebook by clicking the Like button on the side of the site
  • Device independent pixels and the ‘rem’ unit in CSS/HTML. As well as device independent pixels in WPF, and Android development.
  • Craigslist takes down pad mapper
  • Ben and I disagree on whether Craigslist a net good, or evil in the world?
  • Profits per employee for various companies
  • I talk about a specific company that took the pivoting of lean startup too far and actually abandoned customers who paid money too quickly.
  • CityMaps has had a big release, and everyone should go check out the new layout and city’s available

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Extroverted Developer #14 - Santos Cordon

Today Ben and I interview former Microsoftie turned Googler, Santos Cordon about programming.

Show Notes

  • How did you get into programming?
  • Learning about computers back in the dos/windows days
  • Ti Calculator programming.
  • How did you get to Microsoft?
  • Your work on Office
  • What brought you to NY?
  • The most important thing for an individual developer’s quality is actually using the software.
  • Interviewing and what it can tell you about a company.
  • How would you interview developers for your own company?
  • Design patterns and over engineering.
  • Software Engineering practices in general.
  • Writing services vs writing shrink wrap software.

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