Is the US facing a critical shortage of STEM skills? Do we have enough STEM workers to meet the demands of the labor market? Are enough young people choosing STEM careers so we can meet future demands?
Such serious concerns have been expressed in a number of national studies over the past two decades. In 2005, for example, the National Innovation Initiative listed “Build the Base of Scientists and Engineers” as one of its top recommendations, noting that “unless the United States takes swift action, the demand for S&E talent will far outstrip supply. The number of jobs requiring technical training is growing at five times the rate of other occupations.”
Two years later, a major National Academies study, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, called for increasing America’s STEM talent pool by providing 25,000 new 4-year competitive undergraduate scholarships to US citizens enrolled in the physical sciences, the life sciences, engineering and math; and by funding 5,000 new graduate fellowships each year for US citizens pursuing graduate studies in areas of national need.
And in 2012, a report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology wrote: “Economic projections point to a need for approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade if the country is to retain its historical preeminence in science and technology. To meet this goal, the United States will need to increase the number of students who receive undergraduate STEM degrees by about 34% annually over current rates.”