[Marxism] oversupply of "knowledge workers"?

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Sat Jul 10 12:16:43 MDT 2004


Is There a Science Crisis? Maybe Not
Leaders warn of a labor shortage in the U.S., but indicators point to an 
oversupply

By RICHARD MONASTERSKY


[snip]

Given the history of such flip-flops [les: predictions of undersupply of 
science- and engineering- trained workes in the US and then increased 
college enrollments and unemployed workforce  follow], some observers 
turn the current concerns on their head and ask whether American 
academic institutions are training too many scientists and engineers. An 
editorial in /Science /this year argued: "We've arranged to produce more 
knowledge workers than we can employ, creating a labor-excess economy 
that keeps labor costs down and productivity high. Maybe we keep doing 
this because in our heart of hearts, we really prefer it this way."

[snip]

In a case study, Ms. Stephan, the Georgia State economist, has analyzed 
the growth of the bioinformatics field, generally regarded as one of the 
hottest areas in science. The number of degree programs blossomed from 
21 in 1999 to 74 in 2003.

"There's been a tremendous increase in the number of students in these 
programs," she says. But, she adds, "we also track job announcements in 
bioinformatics, and they've been declining."

She sees parallels to other leading fields. "Everybody is talking right 
now that there'll be lots and lots of jobs in nanotechnology," she says. 
"I've not seen a convincing case that that is happening, or that it will 
happen."

Yet graduate schools have an incentive to train ever-increasing numbers 
of students and postdoctoral fellows because they perform the work on 
research grants that bring money into universities, Ms. Stephan says. 
"Academe has a big vested interest here."

full at: http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i44/44a01001.htm




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