[Marxism] oversupply of "knowledge workers"?
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
By RICHARD MONASTERSKY
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."
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
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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