Crisis in STEM – U.S. Corporations & Americans

This writing is due in large part to an article posted to a LinkedIn group I belong to, Intelligence & National Security Alliance (a closed group). STEM has also been on my mind for quite a while but just now coming out on paper, so to speak.

The article titled – “Discusses how to Inspire the Next Generation into STEMis an interview of a Google executive by the “WashingtonExec”  discussing the crisis of STEM in our schools and society at –> www.washingtonexec.com/2014/02/google-innovation-evangelist-public-sector-cto-michele-weslander-quaid-discusses-inspire-next-generation-stem/ – unfortunately it was closed to comments, immediately. 

So I resorted to putting this piece as a LinkedIn comment response as well as placing that piece here on my blog site. In the ‘interview,’ once you get beyond where the Google executive is talking about herself, the meat of the topic shows up about a third of the way in. 

Be warned, I am somewhat heated about the state of STEM, U.S. businesses and unemployment. STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

You know, I continue to think about this STEM issue and continue to get ticked off. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for kicking STEM into high gear in U.S. grade school and high schools (and colleges…).

However, for decades, many of us have watched corporations do off-shoring / out-sourcing in order to save money for the corporation, it was like a domino effect as more businesses rushed out of the U.S.

But it was not really about just saving money, it was about cutting expenses, specifically the expenses generated by having U.S. employees. That movement was, to me at any rate, highly myopic of so, so many corporations…

So it began – corporations started down that dark slippery track of chasing the lowest wage earners around the globe (which is slowing down, with global wages going up).

Yes, many Americans are to blame for wanting the ‘cheapest’ products around. At one time, I too, was somewhat guilty of that. But I never minded paying a bit extra for something made in the U.S., if it was of a decent quality – the quality is significantly important. 

But this STEM crisis was in turn generated by many U.S. corporations.  If firms were investing in THEIR OWN employees and helping them gain the requisite skills, those firms would “ALREADY” have skilled employees to draw from.

Not all of the trained employees would bail and jump ship once they got that valuable training. Many would stay because the firm helped them gain those new, more valuable skills.

Look at Germany, many firms there invest and re-invest in their employees to MAKE SURE they have the needed skills for the future. We, the U.S. should definitely be doing the same but we are nowhere near that scale of helping people in those U.S. corporations who are willing, ready and champing at the bit to learn new high tech STEM skills.

 But, because of all the years of outsourcing, salaries are down – the employees cannot go out and obtain the needed training that they want because it is too expensive. This is the other piece of the pie that has to be looked at.

Corporations look at many people today and pass over so many viable candidates. Here’s the rub, many of those candidates have a good enough or broad enough background that they could actually be trained up in six to eight months to do many of those ‘highly’ skilled jobs.

Then too, some of these employees, once they have gained some of the needed skills ‘may’ go on to obtain an advanced degree (graduate or doctorate) in that field.

 So, at this time, we now have this STEM crisis and are bringing in H1B visa individuals, at a reduced salary of course… and firms are spending YEARS trying to get more H1B visa individuals, hiring lobbyists to try and convince congress to relax the rules in bringing in more H1B individuals.

 Am I highly annoyed at this? Yes, I am – I am sick to death of hearing about our high unemployment rate while at the same time hear about millions of jobs going begging for skilled workers.

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