Does America need more engineers?

Steve Henn Aug 31, 2011
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Does America need more engineers?

Steve Henn Aug 31, 2011
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Jeremy Hobson: As we wait for Friday’s big monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, we just got an early look
at the nation’s employment situation for August. The job placement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas says companies announced 51,000 layoffs last month — which was better than July, but still worse than last August. As for hiring,
some people are hoping the booming high-tech sector will come through.

But as Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports, many tech companies have the jobs they just can’t find the right people for them.


Steve Henn: High-tech companies have long complained that the U.S. doesn’t educate enough engineers with advanced degrees. But asking American CEOs if there are enough engineers in this country is a little like asking a child if the world has enough ice cream, or so says Vivek Wadwha.

Vivek Wadwha: At the macro level, there is absolutely no shortage of engineers in America.

Wadwha’s a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. Wadwha says there are some engineer shortages but they tend to be regional and confined to specific industries.

Wadwha: In Silicon Valley, there are extreme shortages of highly skilled programming talent. It’s not a national problem, and it’s not a generic engineering problem.

When it comes to engineering talent, Wadwha believes what matters most is quality — not quantity. Today, more than half of all engineering PhD’s awarded by American universities go to foreign students. And these days, many of them are heading home after graduation.

In Silicon Valley, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

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