The DeHavilland Blog

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Is there really a shortage of engineers?

In their regular email brief, The National Alliance of State Science and Mathematics Coalitions (NASSMC) highlights an interesting article on whether there is truly a shortage of engineers in this country, and whether the comparisons to engineering graduation rates in other countries (particularly China and India) are appropriate.

Their brief, reprinted in its entirety:

News Brief #3391 Category: Role of Education in Business
TITLE: "Does the US face an engineering gap?"

A new Duke University study questions dire warnings from US corporations
that the country isn't graduating enough engineers and is consequently losing
ground in the technology race with India and China.

Previous numbers issued by the National Academies estimated that China is
adding 600,000 new engineers a year, while India is gaining about 350,000.
Meanwhile, the US graduates about 70,000 a year.

The picture may not be as bleak as it looks, however, because, according to
the Duke researchers, the overseas figures are inflated. India's figure is
closer to 215,000, by their estimate, and nearly half of those graduates have
only three-year diplomas, or "short-cycle degrees." The US figure counts only
four-year degrees. The case is much the same with China, the researchers say.

"China includes in its count a lot of graduates - including auto mechanics
- who would not be included as engineers in the US or many other nations," said
Gary Gereffi, a coauthor of the study and director of Duke's Center on
Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness.

Some experts accuse corporations of deliberately misusing the figures to
justify their search for cheaper engineering talent overseas.

"Business groups have been very smart about trying to change the subject
from outsourcing and offshoring to the supposed shortfall in US engineers," said
Ron Hira, an outsourcing expert at Rochester Institute of Technology. "There's
really no serious shortage of engineers in this country."

SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor, 20 December 2005
The NASSMC Briefing Service (NBS) is supported in part by the National
Science Teachers Association, International Technology Education Association and
Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education. Briefs reflect only the
opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the source
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