29 January 2010

How About Paying Them More?

Yawn, another day, another report saying that the dearth of US citizens interested in majoring in technical fields is a national security threat:
Sure, we’re all plugged in and online 24/7. But fewer American kids are growing up to be bona fide computer geeks. And that poses a serious security risk for the country, according to the Defense Department.

The Pentagon’s far-out research arm Darpa is soliciting proposals for initiatives that would attract teens to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with an emphasis on computing. According to the Computer Research Association, computer science enrollment dropped 43 percent between 2003 and 2006.
Umm ………… Hello?!?!?!?

You are asking how to encourage people who have the proficiencies to go into a technical field to do that, as opposed to, for example, becoming a banker or a stock broker.

But, of course, like the Cylons, they have a plan:
The agency doesn’t offer specifics on what kinds of activities might boost computing’s appeal to teens, but they want programs to include career days, mentoring, lab tours and counseling.
Like that will work: Ignore the poor pay and benefits, and the fact that your barista at Starbucks® used to be in IT, but after he got laid off the last time, he couldn't find another job, because he only knows C++, not C#, because being a computer programmer or an engineer is just so f%$#ing cool.

By definition, people who have the wherewithal to go into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are people who can count.

If you want them to take a technical major, you have to promise better pay and benefits.

Duh …………


Sortition said...

I am not sure about this. Being an engineer may not be as profitable as being a financial fraudster, but it is still a pretty lucrative profession, I imagine. There must be something else afoot, don't you think?

Matthew G. Saroff said...

Actually, no, it's not.

When you consider the job security of the profession, and there is a monetary value that can be assigned to this, I don't think that engineering is particularly well paid.

Engineers are considered expendible.

Then there is the cube life, as opposed to an office with a door, a window, and a secretary.

When compared to the pay and benefits relative to other professions, along with the rigorous nature of the course of study, the numbers do not add up.

Part of this is the continuing stratification of societal wage levels, with the spoils going to those who don't actually produce thing, but instead sell things, and part of this is a deliberate policy of depressing wages in technical fields (H1b and L1 visas).

Sortition said...

I should look up the numbers, but I am guessing that salary, job security and work conditions for engineers are not any worse - and probably better - than those of most if not all biology (non-MD), humanities and social sciences professions. Non-college professions must be even worse.

The "rigorous nature of the course of study" may be a better explaining factor. But I'm just guessing - I wonder if there is some study that can shed some light on this.

In any case, what we really need (as do the rest of the workers in this country) is a union.

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