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No Tech Worker Shortage, No STEM Crisis

Silicon Valley

One of the constant refrains of the economic elite is that the reason America is so unequal is because of a so-called skills gap and that, conveniently, there is a “STEM crisis” and severe tech worker shortage which when addressed will help even the economy out. According to the plutocrats, instead of talking about structural changes to the economic system or new redistribution policies the public should be focused on the need for “education reform” and gaining technical skills.

While anyone who understands politics knows this is a misdirection strategy, some well-meaning people have genuinely been bamboozled into thinking the elite spin campaign is true. It isn’t.

Not only is there no STEM crisis, there is no tech worker shortage. All available evidence points to what most seasoned and keen observers already knew – the tech industry just wants cheaper labor. That’s not a “shortage” that’s just owners wanting to gain greater profit from lower labor costs which is par for the course for all businesses.

“There’s no evidence of any way, shape, or form that there’s a shortage in the conventional sense,” says Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University. “They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I’m not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV.”..

Salzman concluded in a paper released last year by the liberal Economic Policy Institute, real IT wages are about the same as they were in 1999. Further, he and his co-authors found, only half of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) college graduates each year get hired into STEM jobs. “We don’t dispute the fact at all that Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) would like to have more, cheaper workers,” says Salzman’s co-author Daniel Kuehn, now a research associate at the Urban Institute. “But that doesn’t constitute a shortage.” The real issue, say Salzman and others, is the industry’s desire for lower-wage, more-exploitable guest workers, not a lack of available American staff.

Combine the interest in more exploitable immigrant workers with the fact that the tech industry refuses to hire more qualified minority applicants from America and the picture becomes rather clear. The tech industry’s agenda concerning education and immigration is about the bottom line not doing the right thing – amazingly, this is a revelation for some.

Silicon Valley has been able to exploit the public’s initial goodwill and hopes that there was something different about the new billion dollar industries based on knowledge and information technology compared to other industries. But the truth is for all the lofty rhetoric there’s no substantive difference between the tech industry and other major industries – it’s just a different PR model.

So let’s get real and recognize the continued cries of worker shortages and education shortfalls from the tech industry for what they are – political maneuvering to promote economic interests.

CommunityThe Bullpen

No Tech Worker Shortage, No STEM Crisis

Silicon Valley

One of the constant refrains of the economic elite is that the reason America is so unequal is because of a so-called skills gap and that, conveniently, there is a “STEM crisis” and severe tech worker shortage which when addressed will help even the economy out. According to the plutocrats, instead of talking about structural changes to the economic system or new redistribution policies the public should be focused on the need for “education reform” and gaining technical skills.

While anyone who understands politics knows this is a misdirection strategy, some well-meaning people have genuinely been bamboozled into thinking the elite spin campaign is true. It isn’t.

Not only is there no STEM crisis, there is no tech worker shortage. All available evidence points to what most seasoned and keen observers already knew – the tech industry just wants cheaper labor. That’s not a “shortage” that’s just owners wanting to gain greater profit from lower labor costs which is par for the course for all businesses.

“There’s no evidence of any way, shape, or form that there’s a shortage in the conventional sense,” says Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University. “They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I’m not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV.”..

Salzman concluded in a paper released last year by the liberal Economic Policy Institute, real IT wages are about the same as they were in 1999. Further, he and his co-authors found, only half of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) college graduates each year get hired into STEM jobs. “We don’t dispute the fact at all that Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) would like to have more, cheaper workers,” says Salzman’s co-author Daniel Kuehn, now a research associate at the Urban Institute. “But that doesn’t constitute a shortage.” The real issue, say Salzman and others, is the industry’s desire for lower-wage, more-exploitable guest workers, not a lack of available American staff.

Combine the interest in more exploitable immigrant workers with the fact that the tech industry refuses to hire more qualified minority applicants from America and the picture becomes rather clear. The tech industry’s agenda concerning education and immigration is about the bottom line not doing the right thing – amazingly, this is a revelation for some.

Silicon Valley has been able to exploit the public’s initial goodwill and hopes that there was something different about the new billion dollar industries based on knowledge and information technology compared to other industries. But the truth is for all the lofty rhetoric there’s no substantive difference between the tech industry and other major industries – it’s just a different PR model.

So let’s get real and recognize the continued cries of worker shortages and education shortfalls from the tech industry for what they are – political maneuvering to promote economic interests.
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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.