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STEM Labor Shortage: Myth or Reality?



Student demonstrating work with a desktop 3-D printer
A student demonstrates 3-D printing at Napa New Technology High School in Napa, Calif.

July 16, 2013 By

Indiana University Bloomington's Bobby B. Schnabel doesn't like the spring as much as the rest of the year. Though that may initially seem a bit strange, he has good reason. 

As the informatics and computing dean, Schnabel flies to Silicon Valley often to build relationships with tech leaders. And toward the end of the school year, they start asking him his least favorite question: Do you have any students we can hire? 

"Part of my job as a dean of a big school is to know a bunch of the IT CEOs," Schnabel said, "and sometimes they'll contact me directly in May saying, 'We're looking for people.' And we don't have people in May — they're all hired."

By the time the university holds its main career fair in early September, the best students are already taken. Of this year's graduating class, 245 undergraduate and masters' students answered a university survey, which found that just over half of them lined up a job before graduation, while less than a quarter of them decided to continue their education at a higher level.

But while Schnabel identifies a labor shortage in technology rather than STEM as a whole, not everyone believes we have an undersupply of college graduates and other laborers in this field. In fact, two schools of thought compete against each other on this issue, and both of them cite data to back up their claims. This raises the question, "Is the STEM labor shortage reality, or simply a myth?"  

STEM Shortage a 'Web of Deceit'?


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