Immigrants Important Source for STEM Talent
Monday, October 6, 2014
The number of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (“STEM”) in the United States is growing at a rate that is 170 percent greater than jobs in other sectors -- and American universities are not graduating enough U.S.-born students to keep pace. Foreign-born students who choose to remain in the U.S. after graduating from college help to bridge the gap, but reports indicate that, by 2022, U.S. employers will have a million more openings for STEM jobs than they will have candidates to fill the positions.
Part of the problem from a domestic standpoint is that, according to the Dept. of Education, only about 16 percent of high school seniors have any interest in pursuing a STEM career. Despite the Obama administration’s spending, in an effort to boost the number of STEM graduates, the number of available candidates will still fall far short of filling the need for STEM workers.
Students from other countries who choose to study in U.S. tend to enter STEM fields or business at a much greater – almost 20 percent more -- rate than American students. However, these fields have some of the lowest unemployment rates. Competition is practically nonexistent, and immigrant students go some way in stemming the shortage of candidates. This means that not only are immigrants not competing with American workers for these jobs, American businesses would be hobbled without a steady stream of foreign talent in the STEM sector.
Along with encouraging American students in STEM subjects as early as elementary school, pursuing immigration reform that would allow more foreign-born, U.S.-educated STEM graduates to stay in the country is only logical. Not only do they bring their education and skills to the table, they also offer insider knowledge of the global marketplace. This, in turn, is necessary to promote innovation in American business and to keep the U.S. competitive in the global economy.