The science degree gap

Experts see significant job growth opportunities in the future in the sciences, which includes engineering, computer programming and even machinery repair. But these same experts question whether the U.S. is training enough individuals to take these jobs. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden reflects on what the statistics suggest.

“The latest data we have on this matter (are) for 2008, and they show for example if only 4 percent … of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in the U.S. were to degrees in, broadly speaking, the sciences. In contrast, the percentage in China was 34 percent. In Europe it was 16 percent. And it was even higher in Russia, at 7 percent. Now we do beat one country in this survey, and that is Brazil.

“So, we are not producing at the same rate degrees in the broad-based sciences that … the people are expecting there’s going to be great job growth (in).

“And so I think experts recommend really a two-prong approach to this issue: One, more programs at the K-12 level to spark interest among young people in the sciences and, quite frankly, better training, because if we don’t make changes and we don’t self-produce folks going into these areas, we’re going to have to import the needed workers.”

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