College Open Textbooks Community

Driving Awareness, Adoptions, and Affordability

Overemphasis on educating for technology jobs -- that aren't there!

Great to see Is There a STEM Worker Shortage? quoting Professor Hal Salzman of Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy who says the shortage is a myth. Here is a similar and longer article in Atlantic Monthly: The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage.

I know many unemployed engineers right here in Silicon Valley -- while the tech companies scream that they cannot find people and keep asking for more H1Bs. As for scientists, there have never been many jobs for them.

For some time, I have been saying the USA does not need a huge percentage of graduates to be engineers or scientists (not even computer 'scientists'). The latest buzz is that we are behind because we are not teaching kids to 'code' in grade school. There are plenty of high-level tools for non-programmers to do the jobs that are plentiful in education, law, medical care, retail, transportation, and more. They do not need to 'code'.

One argument is that learning to code is learning to think logically, critically, and in-depth. We heard the same about algebra. This is not true. As an engineer, I took plenty of math courses and even learn to code. It was not from these that I gained skills in logic, critical thinking, and in-depth thinking. Those came from debate, literature, rhetoric, and logic courses and reading.

Views: 64


You need to be a member of College Open Textbooks Community to add comments!

Join College Open Textbooks Community

Comment by Jacky Hood on April 16, 2014 at 12:40am

I would love to see labor move freely around the world and to see telework continue to grow so that people can get a good job anywhere and still live near their families and friends. I live in California and spent the last 2.5 years at a company located near New Delhi. I feel as if I know these people very well; one visited San Francisco last week and we felt as if we had been seeing each other every day though we had never before met in person. 

Of course there are many positions -- forestry, nursing, snow removal, etc. -- that cannot be done remotely. Software development is not one of them.

My concern, shared with the writers of the three articles, are those 'mediocre' engineers and scientists (i.e. the other 90%) who thought that majoring in STEM would give them a great job or at least job security. All of the research shows that the USA has more STEM grads than job; the disagreement is only whether it is 2 or 3 times too many. It seems that you are recommending that there be 10x too many, either from training or immigration, so that every company can take the top 10% and the rest can regret their education.

Is it only in software engineering that your company cannot hire the best? Are you able to hire the best marketers, sales staff, executives, HR people, legal staff, customer service people, and others? I think people should be training for these jobs and others (nurses, mechanics, chefs) and not just in STEM.

Comment by Paul Topping on April 15, 2014 at 5:16pm

We do need the best to compete. Software has grown so complex and the market so fast-moving, mediocre programmers do not help. We do try to employ people around the world if we can but it is not as good as having them here. Also, looking at it from the strictly from the point of view of the US economy, bringing smart people to the US means that the companies they work for (and sometimes start) employ Americans. A good thing, right?

Comment by Jacky Hood on April 15, 2014 at 5:11pm

Isn't this a little like saying that it's impossible for anyone but a few philharmonic orchestras to hire the best conductors, for anyone but the Yankees to hire the best baseball players, etc. Why does your company need the best programmers in the world? What percentage of the world's programmers are the 'best'?

If you really insist that you must have the creme de la creme, I recommend The Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun who spent a year at That company attracts outstanding designers and coders by allowing them to live anywhere in the world.

Here is an article similar to the other two but focused on your field: Are There Too Many Going Into Computer Science?.


Comment by Paul Topping on April 15, 2014 at 1:17pm

The only people that claim there's no shortage are people that are not directly involved in the field. Ask anyone in my industry, software, and they will tell you that much of our success and failure depends on finding the best programmers and that they are virtually impossible to find unless you are Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. It is not even close to being debatable. However, this problem will not be solved by teaching all kids to code. That will take years to bear fruit if it ever does. Instead, we want to get the best software engineers in the entire world to come work here in the US.

Latest Activity

Nili Kirschner updated their profile
Jun 18
Open Doors Group left a comment for Eileen Bujalski
Jun 17
Eileen Bujalski is now a member of College Open Textbooks Community
Jun 17
Open Doors Group left a comment for Sunyeen Pai
Jun 15


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2015   Created by Jacky Hood.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service