Tech industry calls STEM jobs report flawed

Apr 29, 2013

A recent report claiming there are enough qualified Americans to work in the tech industry without  expanding current work visa programs, has drawn criticism.

On Wednesday the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) issued a report that undermined arguments proffered by the technology industry for additional guest workers to meet industry demand. 

The EPI argued its data shows there are more than enough workers in the U.S. with the appropriate STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - skills to fill the worker shortage. Those workers are just being displaced by the lower salaries of guest workers, the report says.

But the tech industry is calling the report's findings flawed.

"To claim that the tech companies that are explaining that they really need to hire more workers, that we need more people educated in STEM education fields, is somehow a fiction, is ludicrous," says Jeffrey Godfrey, a spokesman for the Association for Competitive Technology, a trade group that represents mobile app. companies.

While the EPI report says the bulk of industry's claims about worker shortages are anecdotal. Godfrey points to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers that say by 2020 there will be an additional 120,000 tech jobs open, but only 40,000 college graduates with the degrees to fill them.

Godfrey says more H-1B visa workers would provide a temporary fix while the education system works on ramping up STEM education.

"We really need the investment in education that is essential," Godfrey says. "And that’s why when a study like this comes out and says, ‘well there isn’t really a problem with finding enough people in the STEM field,’ why there isn’t a STEM worker shortage, that affects us terribly."

Godfrey also disagreed with a few ways EPI's data was collected. First, he says the report should not have lumped computer science and information science degree holders into the same field.

He also took issue with the timing of the data collected, largely during the recession of 2008; before the mobile phone app industry even existed.