Gun news is pretty thin on the ground today. Via Instapundit, I noticed this article about how there is no real shortage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workers:
The truth is that there is little credible evidence of the claimed widespread shortages in the U.S. science and engineering workforce. How can the conventional wisdom be so different from the empirical evidence? There are of course many complexities involved that cannot be addressed here. The key points, though, are these …
If you work in a STEM field, I’d highly recommend it. Having worked in the STEM industry for a number of years, I can tell you that if you’re a chemist, at least in my local job market, it’s tough to find jobs. Big Pharma isn’t running large chemistry labs anymore, having shipped most of those functions overseas to places like China and India. There’s still jobs for talented medicinal chemists, but bench chemistry is done almost entirely by overseas firms. Engineering and Information Technology jobs have also had to deal with the outsourcing bug. But I don’t think that really represents the whole picture of the job market, and the real factors are beyond soundbites or short articles.
In IT, at least in my local market, there really is a shortage of talented people. They are tough to find, and there is a lot of chaff to beat through before you can get at the wheat. The article does hint on what I think part of the issue is: the boom/bust cycle. When there are booms in STEM and related fields, the rising pay and opportunity attracts a lot of people into the field who honestly don’t belong in it. They can get hired in boom years because companies are desperate to fill jobs, and since they can’t find good people fast enough, or just can’t afford them, they end up settling. When I graduated from college, it was the height of the dot com boom, and they would hire anyone that could spell “Unix.”
And then comes the bust, and a lot of folks who never belonged in the field to begin with, end up washing out of the field, enduring long periods of unemployment, and/or having to take less pay. It does seem to go in a cyclical fashion, and STEM fields seem to have a particularly harsh business cycle compared to other industries. I think the issue is not so much that there’s a shortage of STEM workers overall, but that there’s a shortage of STEM workers who really belong in the field. The boom cycles that bring a lot of unqualified people into the field tend to make the bust cycles deeper and more painful.