Where is the STEM Talent?


In a recent post on Forbes' Blog SAS Spurned IBM, Now to Win!, the blogger quoted SAS CEO Jim Goodnight expressing confidence about the future of SAS, but concern over the lack of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) graduates coming out of US universities. Goodnight confides that his biggest worry is the ability to hire the talent he needs, and he freely admits that SAS now must rely on the rest of the world for qualified employees. “We’re expanding our Research & Development  centers in India and China,” he says. “Not to save on costs, but to go where the talent is.”

This is shocking, but it should be no surprise to those who follow education issues.  In the last year, a number of reports have documented a critical talent shortage, especially graduates with advanced degrees in math, computer science or computer engineering.  (See Running on Empty, Report to the President, and various reports from the National Science Foundation). Clearly, the STEM pipeline is leaking, and the US is just beginning to feel the impact.

As a former public school educator, I have my own ideas about why this is happening.  Some of it is cultural.  US students are beginning to see schools as relics of the past that offer too few opportunities to learn about topics and applications that might be useful after graduation.  Outside the classroom, they are constantly connected by phones, laptops or other devices, but most classrooms have changed very little in the subjects being taught or the way in which content is delivered.


About Author

Caroline McCullen

Caroline McCullen is the Director of Education Initiatives at SAS Institute. As a Former National Technology Teacher of the Year, she continues to pursue her greatest passions: supporting activities and organizations that inspire excellence in education and helping schools harness innovative uses of technology to engage students and improve instruction. Her most recent projects focus on science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She continues to work with the SAS Programming for High School course, the Triangle High Five Math Collaborative, and other activities related to excellence in math and technology. She serves on the advisory boards of numerous education organizations, such as the NC Science, Technology and Math Center; Public School Forum; NC Center for After-School Programs; the Governor’s Talent and Workforce Development Committee; and Wake Education Partnership. She holds a B.A. in English with a minor in education from Florida State University and a M.S. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) with a focus on technology from Nova Southeastern University, but she continues to learn every day from teachers and students as they use technology to innovate.

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