Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fortune: Where are all the Science Majors?

An interesting story in Fortune but I have 2 answers

#1 at the quant hedge funds

#2 why would you be a science major in Cramerica when your work will be outsourced for 1/20th the wage? After all we are a service economy baby.  Why do all that studying and take on all that debt with such job risk.  Federal government work, or offshoots (defense contractors, lobbyists) - that's the future young man. 

Some comments at the bottom of the Fortune story confirms this - boo yah Jean:

Jean Edson8:42 am

I have a double degree in Mathematics and Computer Science and work part-time as a cashier - where are the jobs??

Or Ann,,,,

Ann Guanella8:41 am

My family is all science majors and there are not jobs in sciences for our younger generation. Only one son works in his field and the rest have jobs in other areas. Companies have outsourced computer science jobs to India because of the pay. Other science jobs pay one half to one third of business degrees. Even as companies were screaming they couldn't find employees, there were many scientists that could and still can not get jobs in the sciences in the past ten to fifteen years. 

Jim says the 'free market' is working, in so many words

Jim Mazzolini6:36 am

Science and engineering is not a good career and kids going to college know it. I am an engineer and all my engineering friends are steering our kids away from an engineering career. Why 1) Pay is low; your starting salary and ending salary 30 years later (if you still have a job) is on average only 1.5 times different. 2) Most companies prefer young engineers recently out of college so the older engineers usually face layoffs and difficulty finding work again. 3) Many engineering jobs get outsourced to China, India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan for lower wages. It is very common in corporations for US engineers to work closely with China engineers training them who eventually take their jobs. Hard to compete with China engineers making $1,000 per month or less. 4) College is hard for engineering but the career payback being very poor. 5) Respect for engineers is low in corporations. The science professional is usually considered a geek.

Walter says where's the beef?

Walter Bliss8:23 am

I make kits and reagents that detect plant pathogens so hopefully I qualify as a scientist. The companies don't want to pay good salaries for the amount of education required. The companies actually prefer bringing workers from other countries at lower pay. I work with primarily citizens from other countries who have green cards for that very reason. I see US born scientists interviewed time after time but not hired because they cannot get a decent salary.

Kelly says lies. damn lies.

Kelly Penix Robbins7:10 am

I am one of the technology people - database engineer - without a technology job. Top in my class, loved what I did, raving reviews by employers, yet lost one job after another due to cuts, shipping jobs overseas, bankruptcy (Worldcom), and just plain nasty work environments (crazy overtime that you don't get paid for, insane deadlines, cranky co-workers who have had no sleep). I have met sooooooooo many others in the same boat. I too would not recommend it to others. I see article after article talking about shortages... they are barking up the wrong tree.

Timm figures out what I have been proposing - everyone needs to get into government work!  Where the laws of private industry no longer apply.

Timm Jowers6:25 am

This article is bunk. There has NEVER EVER been a shortage of qualified scientists and engineers. There is a shortage willing to work for $30,000. That's why all the people in the company mentioned are from a foreign country. Now, NONE of the computer scientists I know recommend to their family to go into this field. You work very hard, have limited upside, and are always in danger of a layoff. In contrast, Garbage Men in Seattle make much more. So do Firemen and even Prison Guards. Plus the last two at least have government retirement. Nope, the only sane choice is to get a government job.


On to the story:
  • At Nationwide Insurance, an entire upper tier of computer scientists had to be brought in from India because the company didn't have enough in Ohio.
  • The number of computer science degrees awarded to U.S. citizens from 2004 to 2007 (the latest figures available) declined 27%, according to the National Science Board. (I don't blame people from this, again - in the mid 90s forward they have seen their work outsourced and or people "imported" in to do the work for lower wage)  
  • But the shortfall isn't just in computer science. Neither universities nor high schools are preparing enough U.S. students in so-called STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math. While observers blame different causes -- lousy secondary schools, boring college courses, lazy students -- few deny a crisis exists.

Amazing statistic - keep in mind the U.S. has 80% of the world's attorneys...with 5% of its population.
  • For every new Ph.D. in the physical sciences, according to the Aerospace Industries Association, the U.S. graduates 50 new MBAs and 18 lawyers

  • More than half of those with bachelor of science degrees still enter careers having nothing to do with science. 
  • The ACT testing service says only 17% of high school seniors are both interested in STEM majors and have attained math proficiency. (disconcerting
  • It used to be that universities didn't particularly worry about the number of STEM grads. But that was before the days of Google and the ravenous demand for technologists. Colleges are only starting to adapt. Calculus has long been known as a "STEM killer," so many schools are trying to get away from passive lectures and make students learn interactively with computers. Engineering schools are trying to introduce jazzier real-world problems into the curriculum.

  • Please note - the science majors have been located - see video below.

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