Too few or too many STEM majors?

There is a shortage of jobs for technological, and medical world as these majors begin to rise.

In the United States, it has been said that there is a shortage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors. With this, there is a concern that the world will not be able to fulfill the demands of an increasingly data-driven, medicine demanding, technology-saturated world that only grows more taxing every minute.

However, this is not the case according to a May 2015 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which claims that there is both a shortage and surplus of STEM majors at the same time.

The issue lies with the job requirements. There are people who are running STEM jobs, but as time goes on the requirements change, leaving only certain people qualified. STEM jobs usually have different requirements, such as a job in psychology only accepting those with a doctorate, or a job in computer science only requiring a bachelor’s degree and so on. Skyline students, for example, may not be guaranteed a job since there is a shortage of positions.

“Half of the nitrogen humans take in comes from artificial fertilizer,” Skyline biology professor Nick Kapp said, on why he thinks STEM is vital. “We don’t train enough engineers.”

There are different places STEM majors are likely to be hired, including academia, private sector, and government, based on the report. But many reasons exist for students avoiding a STEM major, and those reasons tend to vary.

“We’d rather be entertained than find entertainment in problem solving,” biochemistry major Daniel Messier said.

According to a report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), there are more than 9.6 million graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in either a humanities (English language, English literature, philosophy, etc.) or liberal arts (political science, sociology, etc.) field

“They think math is too hard,” mathematics major Elizabeth Pramhi said. “It looks like a big workload, but it actually goes quickly.”

In the academia sector, for students in STEM majors looking to achieve tenure as a Ph.D., the report states that that there are more Ph.D.’s eligible for academic positions than there are openings. However, it should be noted that academia is not the only option for many people in STEM majors, and that the lion’s share of graduates go into academia as either postdocs or adjunct faculty, hoping to chase a position in tenure-track faculty.

“Support is really what matters,” said Stephen Fredericks, director of Skyline College’s branch of the MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) program. “Vets are outliers in my data.”

In the government sector, the National Research Council Committee claims that, with a few exceptions, the Air Force has mostly met its recruiting goals for STEM majors.

However, the Air Force Personnel Center, “found staffing gaps in electrical engineering, operations research, quantitative psychology…and systems engineering, specifically with regard to graduates with advanced degrees.”

The private sector also tells a very different story. According to Wanted Analytics, an aggregate of internet job listings, 2013 web ads relating to software development grew 120 percent compared to 2012, probably due to demand for mobile developers(smartphones, tablets) on apps such as Vine and Snapchat, which process large amounts of data.

A UC Berkeley electrical engineering and computer science student Phyo Htut said, “There are a lot of engineering majors, and when they switch, they usually switch between different types of engineering.”

Skilled trade workers (machinists, technicians, etc.) are also in demand, according to a survey of manufacturers in 2011, which found they needed more than 600,000 workers. Biomedical fields in the private sector see a surplus, with a fairly high unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in 2013 compared to the 2.2 percent unemployment in computer science fields of the same year.

The question of whether there is actually a STEM major surplus or deficit is quite a difficult question to answer still, and that the report was mostly correct. It depends on where you’re looking and what you’re looking for.