11/14/2010

Engineer Shortage

According to a Duke Study the United States is in fact still generating high quantities and high quality engineer graduates compared to China and India. This is contrary to the often reported stat that the United States has a major shortage of Engineers. The study pointed to the conclusion that companies are outsourcing these high tech jobs based on cost. The survey indicated that companies recognize the higher quality of engineer graduates in the United States, but choose to outsource based on the cost savings. This raises significant concern for many of these highly technical jobs in research and development leaving the United States, and implications on the United States being able to stay competitive as the world leader.

Link to the NPR interview with the Duke professor:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9910492

3 comments:

denver said...

While the world is becoming more connected all the time the barriers to doing business overseas are diminishing. The world seems to get smaller and smaller all the time as we see more and more companies taking the multinational approach to business. So, why not purchase some professional service from foreign countries at a fraction of the cost?

You look at businesses like Wal-Mart that push their supplier’s margins to nothing and essentially push these supplier’s operations overseas. If it is acceptable to propagate this type of foreign labor (which all of us support when we shop at Wal-Mart) then why not hire some foreign engineers in the same manner?

If we push for lower prices then we have to accept some of the practices that get us there. If we want Americans to hold these technical jobs then we have to be willing to pay for them as businesses and as consumers. Sometimes cheaper isn’t always better in the holistic view.

This may seem a little ideal, but that is the luxury of academics. We get to discuss concepts without touching our wallets and we don't have to report to shareholders, yet.

Rex said...

This is a relatively simple concept that everyone else has been dealing with for a long time. I guess it's the engineer's turn. It may be possible that our engineers are overqualified for the general demand of their work.In response to the previous comment, it appears as if "cheaper" is going to get you the "better," at least until the demand for highly skilled engineers comes back up

Dave said...

-1 on Delta for capitalization.

I'm not sure where I come down on this one.

I wonder if Delta and Denver have fallen for an anti-trade position.

Without disparaging the results of the survey, I think we need to ask if it is even on the right track.

Who cares if we're producing enough? Who cares if what we produce is high quality.

What we should care about it that we trade. And, recently we've decided to import engineers. There are a number of possible reasons: 1) we don't make enough engineers, 2) our engineers aren't cheap, 3) our engineers are low quality, or 4) our engineers have a a quality mismatch with with job openings.

All of this is a snow job that we could avoid by going back to your second week of principles of microeconomics.

The study is arguing that we have an absolute advantage. Trade is driven by comparative advantage. The former is meaningless.

Of course, it's not so meaningless if we are persistently producing too many high quality engineers that can't find jobs. The usual reason for that sort of disconnected nonsense is government policy. And ... of course ... our different levels of government subsidize university educations, and technical programs in particular. Hmmm. Funny that.