A disturbing, but not surprising report on foreign college students enrolling – actually, NOT enrolling – in
Prepared by Jane Wishneff, an author and attorney with the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, the new report notes that foreign student enrollment in
The reasons cited for the decline include stricter visa regulations since 9/11, foreign countries highlighting advantages of staying home (such as lower tuition rates and costs of living), and competition from countries such as
But the real problem is the sad state of S&E education in the
“Unfortunately, the American educational system does not produce enough talent in the S&E fields to meet the need for high-skilled workers in the manufacturing sector,” Wishneff writes. In 2003, the report says, 55 percent of engineering doctorates awarded in the
Even worse, the report notes, is that fewer than half of the undergraduate students entering college with a science or engineering major completed a degree in either field throughout the 1990s, and very few students transfer in from other areas.
Of course, the biggest impact is on manufacturing, which employed 59 percent of all full-time scientists and engineers performing industrial R&D in January 2001, and 56 percent at the beginning of 2004.
Obviously, finding good people is not going to become easier for manufacturers anytime soon. And that has implications for the spread of lean throughout manufacturing – and other industries – because lean requires good people who understand engineering principles.
Most efforts to improve the situation are focusing on businesses and schools (and occasionally government). All that is fine, but personally, I think we need to involve
There have been widespread reports of increased enrollment in college programs on forensic sciences, due in large part to the popularity of “CSI” and similar programs.
We need a show that makes engineers the heroes. The “Star Trek” programs had noble chief engineers, but a program set 300 years in the future does little to spur interest in jobs available today.
I’ll admit it may be difficult to create a program about manufacturing that is entertaining and popular, but I can’t believe it’s impossible. Aaron Sorkin, we could use your help.
Short of a TV program (which I’ll admit isn’t likely anytime soon), we need a good PR campaign. And I’ll suggest a starting point.
When I attended the annual conference of the
It may not have been produced for this purpose, but in my view, the video was the best recruiting film for engineering that I have ever seen. (OK, I haven’t seen any other engineering recruiting films – how many are there? – but you get my point.)
All this talk about television, Disney and PR may seem rather lighthearted, but the workforce situation is serious, and we need to think of new ways to address it.
Any other ideas?