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.