Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Call Me

 This comment relates to the below article and succinctly says what I have known for quite sometime, the push for STEM is not about jobs, careers or a need for workers, it is about supply and demand. If you increase the supply to meet the demand and then in turn have a surplus of the supply you can lower wages.  The median tech job has an annual salary of just over 100K in smaller urban cities, in Sillicon Valley it is higher (as is the cost of living).

Sent to the New York Times, Jan. 31
President Obama has called for "a Deeper Commitment to Computer Education," (January 30), proposing that $4 billion be invested in computer science education. In the past, these proclamations were based on the assumption that there is a serious shortage of technology-trained workers in the US. This claim has been shown to be false. In fact, there is a surplus.
Now the message is that computer knowledge is needed in many professions. (The president mentioned auto mechanics and nursing.) But this is computer use, and does not require knowing how to program and design software.  It requires knowing how to use specific programs. It is not "computer science," just as driving a car does not require deep knowledge of auto mechanics.  Nevertheless, the president emphasized programming and learning to code, "computer science for all."\
My daughter has pointed out to me that to learn how to use many programs, all you need is a good friend to show you how

I was not surprised to read that the president of Microsoft thought the president's proposal was a good idea.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California

 This article explains the breakdown in tech salaries and they are commensurately higher than in most other professions.  The reason being "supposedly" is that there is a lack of qualified applicants with matching skill set.   So by pushing everyone possible into a job description that currently has a median wage over 30% of that in most professions, the wages can drop or at least level off and in turn stagnate. It sort of allows an address to the problem of income inequality. Damn those tech geeks really are saving the world.

And no one is more beholden to the tech geeks than Obama. He courted them (wisely perhaps) in 2008 versus the Bankers as at that time they were persona non grata with the liberal set. But times change and the revolving door opens and closes with most of his staff going back to Wall Street. Just like former Governor John Kasich did when he went to Wall Street and worked at Lehmans while actually never leaving Ohio. That may have been a good thing for him, Lehman not so much. He should have made a few more calls.

Some however did elect to persue tech field and we have Jay Carney at Amazon and many others joining Al Gore in the valley as "venture capitalists" or to sit on boards.  Well venturing is hardly the word, as many will not even relocate, just cash the six figure paycheck and pretend to make a call. Must be nice, ask John Kasich.

Obama’s Budget Urges a Deeper Commitment to Computer Education

WASHINGTON — President Obama will call for spending $4 billion to help states pay for computer science education in the schools when he presents his 2017 budget to Congress, administration officials say.
If approved by the Republican-led Congress, the money will pay for teacher training and instructional materials to increase the amount of instruction in computer science, especially for girls and minorities, the officials said.
Mr. Obama announced the initiative, called Computer Science for All, in his weekly radio address Saturday morning. He urged lawmakers to support the program’s funding in the budget, saying such education would help the nation’s young people succeed in a changing job market.
“In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill — it’s a basic skill, right along with the three Rs,” Mr. Obama said in the address. “Nine out of 10 parents want it taught at their children’s schools.”

Officials said the president’s budget plan, to be officially rolled out on Feb. 9, also calls for sending $100 million directly to school districts to help start computer science education programs. And it directs the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to spend more than $135 million in existing funds on teacher training over a five-year period beginning this year.
White House officials say the need is critical, in part because other nations are doing a better job educating young people in computer sciences, a fast-growing part of the global economy.
Only a quarter of the elementary, middle and high schools in the United States offer computer science classes, with 22 states not allowing such classes to count toward a diploma, officials said. Only 4,310 of 37,000 high schools in the country offer Advanced Placement computer science classes, they said, putting American children at a disadvantage.
“That’s what this is all about — each of us doing our part to make sure all our young people can compete in a high-tech, global economy,” Mr. Obama said. “They’re the ones who will make sure America keeps growing, keeps innovating and keeps leading the world in the years ahead.”
In addition to federal spending, Mr. Obama is urging private technology companies to do more to support computer science education.
Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, praised that effort in a conference call with reporters that the White House organized on Friday. He said the company, which has already invested in efforts to encourage computer science education, was beginning a 50-state campaign to expand it further.
He called the effort by Mr. Obama and the other companies a “social imperative” for schoolchildren.
“More than anything else, what we’ve learned is that computing and computer science have become foundational for the future,” Mr. Smith said. “This isn’t just a tech issue. This isn’t just an economic issue.”

Just to prove a point here is a list of articles that discuss the reality of the STEM grads.  It is not a pretty picture. 

Sources: Salzman, H. & Lowell, B. L. 2007. Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand. Available at SSRN: Salzman, H. and Lowell, L. 2008.

Making the grade. Nature 453 (1): 28-30.Salzman, H. 2012. No Shortage of Qualified American STEM Grads (5/25/12) Teitelbaum, M. 2014:,0,120851.story#axzz2zYCn7SCA; Weismann, J. 2013.

More Ph.D's than the market can absorb:The Ph.D Bust: America's Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts. The Atlantic, Feb 20, 2013.

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