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EPI Report Says Expansion of Guest Worker Programs Is Not Necessary
By Alizdesign Posted:May 10, 2013 0 Comments
A conversation has begun surrounding the issue of guest worker programs in the United States and in particular, the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) employment. They are getting a lot of attention, but a closer look at the programs seems to be in order.

The question being asked centers around the U.S. is about the fact that there seems to be a disproportionate amount of new hires going to individuals outside the U.S. Many US companies are putting a lot of effort into attracting the best and the brightest minds in the global pool of candidates.

It appears the perception is that there are not enough American candidates to fill the existing job openings as well as potential future ones. However, there is a clear indication that there are enough adequately prepared domestic workers available. This is not to suggest that the guest worker programs are not important.

The fact is, any time minds can come together for the good of all on a global scale, the potential for success is always greater. What needs to be examined is how to get potential employers to take a second look at what is available right in their own backyards.

The data from various studies indicates that there are a couple of issues driving the industry right now. One factor shows that the number of domestic STEM workers is steadily increasing, and secondly, the increase in guest workers is also increasing even though there is a steady decline in wages within these fields.

This disparity in the market is causing a separate and unequal status among available workers. There is more evidence to show that despite the strong indication of increased numbers of domestic STEM workers entering the labor market, there is still only one domestic worker hired for every two that become available.

In an effort to see more clearly what the reality is and what potential effects it could have on the job market, there needs to be an explanation of the concept of STEM readiness and its potential for the future.

The fields of science, technology, engineering, and math have long been at the forefront of what has been perceived as a world of gadgets, circuit boards and hardware. While that may be a part the field, it is not the totality of it. Critical thinking and the ability to think outside the box contribute in a major way.

The old stereotype depicting groups of individuals pouring over the latest gadgets, pieces of hardware or other technical applications has for the most part not been the greatest draw for a larger segment of the academic community. In fact, for women it has had the opposite effect, and they have been disproportionately missing from the equation.

This may be because, in general, the gauge by which candidates are evaluated comes primarily from the results of standardized testing. While we are looking at the current figures and their impact on the job market, it is important to look to the future in an effort to ward off negative attitudes about STEM education.

The educational community must begin the transition as early as possible. This is not just a dilemma that falls on the shoulders of the educational system in the U.S. It really has to begin at the national level. The United States government has already taken a step in the right direction.

However, the government has to broaden its reach. Funding for teachers, resources and a genuine outreach to find the talent, wherever it is, has to increase. This is of national importance if the United States is going to continue to compete on a global scale.

Many in the business community have caught the vision, and they are releasing resources that aid in the promoting of STEM education in the early stages of educational development. They also need to join in a partnership with the educational community to secure the future of the youth in this area.

Moving into the next century, the need for more individuals with a strong STEM background is only going to increase. STEM education is not just confined to the high-powered careers that use this type of education, it is moving into everyday life. The level of technology that is being used in mainstream America will be more apparent in the years ahead.

There is evidence right now that supports the increased use of technology by children as young as preschool age, and these are the future STEM workers of tomorrow. However, this can only be accomplished when those in authority embrace the idea of promoting, implementing and engaging in the realization of the need for more skilled domestic workers in this field.

There must be a concerted effort to radically shift the tide of the educational process in America. As a nation, it can no longer be ignored. If the youth of this nation are going to continue to be a major driving force in the world order, they are going to have to be STEM literate.

The military is already in need of highly skilled workers who can handle math, science, engineering and technology with skill and ease. It has been universally accepted that the United States led the way through innovation during the last century. The best research scientists and engineers were here.

They have been the trendsetters and the ones by which the bar has been set. They inspired the world with their talents. They actually dominated the late 20th century with technological advances that have literally changed the way we live and do business; where they led, the world followed.

They have been the driving force behind our economic growth, and their innovations are not going away. They are only going to become stronger. A serious move to provide greater access to STEM education is a definite guarantee the workforce of the future will be strong and secure.

The projections indicate that by the year, 2020 STEM related jobs will increase by 17 percent while non- STEM related jobs will only grow by 14 percent. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The good news is that there is a major move toward STEM education in the high school and middle school levels. Provided the nation stays on course, there is no reason why there will not be more than enough workers of this caliber ready to take on the job market.

However, it must be strongly supported by the government, the business community and the educational community. A strong effort must be initiated to find those domestic workers who are already identified as STEM educated and are ready to work. While that is going on, future STEM candidates must be identified and prepared to take on the tasks.

As a nation, there cannot be a mild neglect of this issue. The future strength of the economy depends on it. There has to be a strengthening of qualified STEM educators who can take on the task of preparing the next generation of workers. The President's council on competitiveness and jobs must do more than advise the President of the ways to strengthen the economy; they must seek ways to close the gap through access.

There has to be a clear goal of redirecting the minds of young people to engage them in courses that foster inquiry-based study. The technological, scientific, mathematical and engineering courses that they take should be based on inquiry rather than being task driven. Then, they will start taking the courses that will expand their desire to explore the possibilities. The future of our way of life and our economic security depends on it.