Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Shortage Watch: Permatern edition

In the midst of an interesting article in The Week decrying twenty-somethings spending their time as unpaid interns, an interesting comment:
But Aaron Smith of youth-advocacy organization Young Invincibles sees permaterns to be more a result of the economic rug's being pulled out from under this generation. "The economy needs to add a really high number of youth jobs over the next 10 years to get us back to where we were before," he says. 
Like others, Smith sees a mismatch between the jobs that are available and what young people are seeking and trained for. "There is a huge demand for [people in science, engineering, and math], and we don't produce enough of those graduates to fill that need," Smith says. "Students need to be more cognizant of the labor market."
I don't think that's really true, but it's probably a reflection of the difficulty in the overall youth job market that the STEM job market looks relatively good.

I think it would behoove the scientific community to kill this media meme that STEM jobs are in high demand. Yes, it is true that there are pockets of high demand in some fields, but there are pockets of very low demand in others. Aggregating science, technology, engineering and mathematics into a single field was a dumb policy/PR move, and it is doing no favors for employment of aspiring scientists and practicing scientists.


  1. Remember Enron, when the bottom 10% of the employees in the company lost their jobs each year?

    Working in STEM is now like working in Enron: with a huge supply of energetic immigrant PhD workers that will be happy with a low wage job company management can get rid of the staid, expensive older workers.

    The only place that this is not happening is tenured faculty in academia, and see how that system is hurting now with the NIH budget cuts.

  2. From the labor statistics I've seen, all the hype about jobs in the STEM field could be narrowed down to just (computer) technology and various engineerings.