Herald: Mixed employment picture for STEM degree holders
From the Miami Herald:
Science, technology, engineering and math — the fields collectively known as STEM — are all the rage these days. Florida state leaders are so eager for more STEM students that they may even create discounted college tuition for students who pursue those fields.
In an economy that is still struggling to regain its footing, boosting STEM is seen by many as a path to jobs.
Except ... what if it isn’t?
As STEM has become an education buzzword in recent years, a steady stream of research has emerged that challenges the notion of STEM as an economic elixir. In some STEM careers, the employment picture is downright lousy.
“Record Unemployment Among Chemists in 2011,” screamed the March headline in Science magazine’s Careers Blog. A headline from June: “What We Need is More Jobs for Scientists.”
Unemployment in STEM fields is still well below the general population (and slightly below college graduates in general). That “record” unemployment for chemists, for example, was 4.6 percent, compared to overall U.S. unemployment at that time of 8.8 percent.
Nevertheless, the glut of workers in some STEM areas (resulting in flat wages, and STEM grads forced to take jobs in non-STEM fields) directly contradicts the widely held view that the United States — and Florida — suffer from a critical shortage of qualified STEM graduates. The truth, many experts say, is more complicated.