Cover Image

PAPERBACK
$58.25



View/Hide Left Panel
Click for next page ( 110


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 109
Or TT ~ ID ~ ~ ~ $K LeEar' A. Bryant, P.E., President The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers United States of America (IEEE-USA) INTRODUCTION The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a transnational professional engineering society made up of more than 360,000 electrical, electronics, and computer engineers in 147 countries. Our primary purposes are to advance the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, and computer engineering to advance the careers of electrical, electronics, and computer engineers; and to improve their ability to inno- vate and create wealth for the benefit of the societies in which they live. IEEE-USA was established in 1973 during an earlier economic downturn to promote the professional careers and technology policy interests of IEEE's 235,000 U.S. members. NEW ECONOMY WORKFORCE UTILIZATION PRACTICES ARE PUTTING AMERICAN ENGINEERS AT RISK One of IEEE-USA's principal concerns is that recent increases in en- gineering unemployment may not be a short term, cyclical phenomenon, but the result of a much more fundamental structural change in engi- neering utilization that could have a long-term negative impact on our nation's security and economy. We are apprehensive that current engi- neering workforce management practices are driven by cost savings that shorten the careers of U.S. engineers, while increasing our nation's reli- ance on temporary foreign workers, short-term contract employees (perma-temps), and the exportation of engineering work to lower-cost, off-shore locations. The corporate mantra seems to have become more,

OCR for page 109
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT better, faster, cheaper; and when it comes to workers, more is always better, and cheaper is best. These changing labor practices make engineering jobs less secure and careers more tenuous than ever. U.S. engineers new graduates, middle- age, and older professionals are having a harder and harder time get- ting and keeping jobs in an economy in which technologists are treated as a disposable commodity. Increasing Unemployment: In the past 18 months, unemployment among America's engineers and computer scientists has reached histori- cally high levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 68,000 engineers and 84,000 computer scientists are currently looking for work. Unemployment among electrical and electronics engineers peaked at 4.8 percent earlier this year. (See Figure 1) Even more ominous are BLS data showing that the gap between general unemployment and engineering un- employment has narrowed considerably in recent years. This gap is alarm- ing because engineers are the innovators who turn ideas into high-value- added goods and services that increase productivity and generate wealth. Substantial numbers of unemployed engineers may be a signal that the economy has stalled. Further increases in engineering unemployment could complicate already shaky prospects for a national economic recovery. 2,500 O 2,000 o o c ~ I) 0 u, by o c 10.0 5.0 0.0 Engineering Employment: 1992 - Present 1992 1 993 100 50 o 1 1992 1 993 1994 1 995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Engineers ~ Electrical Engineers Engineering Unemployment: 1992 - Present 2000 2001 02Q1 02Q2 02Q3 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 Engineers ~ Electrical Engineers ~ Computer Science Percent Unemployed: 1992 - Present 02Q2 02Q3 1 r T T T r r T 1 T r r 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 02Q1 02Q2 02Q3 ~ AllWorkers ~ Engineers ~ Electrical Engineers [] Computer Science FIGURE 1 Engineering employment and unemployment figures for 1992 to present. Source: U.S. Department of Labor; Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OCR for page 109
Job Shrinkage: More than 100,000 engineering jobs disappeared in the third quarter of 2002 (see Figure 1 for BLS Employment Statistics). FlatlDeclining Compensation: Engineers are expected to work longer hours for salaries that have been flat or declining when adjusted for inflation since the 1980s (see Figures 2 and 3 for Engineering Workforce Commission [EWC] Salary Statistics). Lack of Support for Training/Lifelong Learning: To remain em- ployed, engineers are required to keep pace with changing technologies and learn new skills but, increasingly, employers are not providing time off or financial support for this training. Engineers who are unemployed or underemployed are also required to keep pace with changes in tech- nology with little to no financial means for doing so. If current workforce utilization practices continue to devalue engineering careers, even more of our best students will pursue careers in other fields, fur- ther increasing our growing reliance on foreign sources of engineering talent. THE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING PIPELINE AND THE RISK OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES IEEE-USA is greatly concerned that policies designed to expand the workforce based on unsubstantiated claims of shortages will create a self- fulfilling prophecy as high school and college students perceive that the reality of an engineering career means periodic unemployment, career insecurity, and flat or declining compensation. In the past, U.S. students elected science and engineering majors or decided to pursue careers in science, engineering, and technology for a number of reasons. They were attracted to the opportunity to pursue in- tellectually challenging work. They were drawn to technical careers by family interests (e.g., a parent or relative who was a scientist or engineer). And/or they were attracted by perceived financial rewards, expectations of job security, or related considerations. In making their choices, they also considered the relative difficulty of the curriculum, but often selected the more difficult education path in order to have the perceived benefits offered by the career choice. U.S. students are influenced by their peers' attitudes about the scien- tific and technical professions. They are also influenced by their experi- ences at the pre-college and introductory-level courses within the disci- pline. They take stock of the employment opportunities and salaries available to recent graduates in these various degree fields (see Figures 2 and 3~. In weighing these considerations, they choose from among a num- ber of attractive professional alternatives, including business, law, and medicine. In today's work environment, college students often decide that

OCR for page 109
$90,000 $80,000 $70,000 $60,000 $50,000 $40,000 $30,000 $20,000 $1 0,000 $0 PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT 1992 1993 1994 1995 BS Degrees/No Experience All Degrees/25 Yrs Experience 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 All Degrees/1 OYrs Experience Median Salary/AII Levels FIGURE 2 Median engineering salaries: 1991-2001 (actual). Source: American As- sociation of Engineering Societies; Engineering Workforce Commission. $60,000 $50,000 $40,000 $30,000 $20,000 $1 0,000 $0 1992 1993 1994 1995 _ BS Degrees/No Experience ~ All Degrees/25 Yrs Experience 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 _ - All Degrees/10 Yrs Experience Median Salary/AII Levels FIGURE 3 Median engineering salaries: 1991-2001 (constant). Source: American Association of Engineering Societies; Engineering Workforce Commission. engineering and related degrees do not offer enough benefits to warrant the more rigorous curriculum. Artificial manipulations of the supply-demand cycle, management practices that devalue engineering careers, and inadequately supported projections of job demand all serve to discourage students from electing careers in engineering. Initiatives designed to fill the science and engi- neering pipeline with significant numbers of U.S. students will ultimately fail and compound the U.S. workforce problem, if the destination that lies beyond the end of that pipeline continues to be unattractive. GETTING BACK TO BASICS IN EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT What's gone wrong in recent years is due in part to what Federal Re- serve chairman Alan Greenspan calls irrational exuberance and in part to an overemphasis by many businesses on short-term shareholder value.

OCR for page 109
Too many managers feel compelled to concentrate on the short term to satisfy the demands of the financial community at the expense of their real stakeholders their customers, their employees, their communities, and their shareholders. IEEE-USA believes that the United States needs to return its focus to the long term and get back to basics in building a sus- tainable science and technology (S&T) workforce that attracts and retains America's best and brightest by delivering rewarding scientific and engi- neering careers. Therefore, IEEE-USA recognizes that there is a need to have a well- educated, technically literate public and that we also need to educate, re- tain, and reward capable people at all levels, including support for talented, motivated engineers and computer scientists, including women, minority, handicapped, and older Americans; continuing education programs that address lifelong employment needs of the engineering workforce; . . do. . _ . . and qualified K-12 math, science, and technology teachers; adequate population of focused and diverse university students; talented researchers and education-focused engineering faculty members. Since resources are limited, the education focus must be on how to leverage available resources and target stakeholder partnerships. Key technology stakeholders include the engineering and scientific workforce, employers, educators, government agencies, professional societies, labor unions, and others with a record of success in training, retraining, and rewarding capable people. And to be successful, much of the work must be done at the local and regional levels. THE SOT WORKFORCE, IMMIGRATION AND NONIMMIGRANT ADMISSIONS IEEE-USA honors the immigrant scientists and engineers from Ben- jamin Franklin to Albert Einstein to Andy Grove who helped build this country and who continue to make important contributions to America's economy, technological competitiveness, and national security. Similarly, we understand that many foreign nationals on temporary educational and work visas bring special talents and diverse skills to classrooms and job sites throughout the nation. However, we also know that various issues including economic and employment status of the resident U.S. workforce need to be taken into consideration when immigration and temporary worker visa quotas are changed.

OCR for page 109
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT There are various ways to bring talented engineers and scientists to the United States and facilitate their transition to legal permanent resi- dent status. Permanent employment-based programs include: an EB-1 program for extraordinary-ability individuals, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives; an EB-2 program for profes- sionals with advanced degrees; and an EB-3 program for baccalaureate degree professionals and certain skilled and unskilled workers. U.S. engineering labor markets are also impacted by foreign students and professionals who are admitted on temporary educational and work- related visa programs. Among the most important are the B-1 (business visitor); E (treaty trader or investor); F (academic student); H (temporary worker); J (exchange visitor); L (intracompany transfer); O (extraordinary ability); and TN (NAFTA professional) temporary visa programs. Most have no annual admission ceilings. Although limited in size and scope, the H-1B baccalaureate degree professional visa program is by far the most controversial. This program was originally intended to facilitate the temporary admission of limited numbers of foreign professionals with specialized skills not readily avail- able in the United States. However, the cap on H-1B visas has been steadily increased from the original authorization of 65,000 a year to the current temporary level of 195,000 with additional exemptions for workers in re- search institutions. In addition to the increased authorization level, the visa duration has been extended from three years to a total of six years with renewal. As an indication of the continual focus on temporary workers, the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (H.R. 2215) incorporated provisions allowing out-of-status guest workers who have filed for permanent resident status to remain until a decision is made on their application. As long as an application has been in process for at least 365 days and the job for which they were recruited ends, the temporary worker is free to compete with U.S. scientists and engineers for other positions. As a result of the various changes to H-1B visa caps, it is estimated that more than 750,000 H-1B guest workers are currently living and work- ing in the United States. More than half of these temporary workers are in the science, engineering, and technology workforce. IEEE-USA believes that instead of providing a short-term remedy for spot skill shortages, the H-1B visa has become widely used by employers as a reduced-cost probationary employment program for foreign profes- sionals and students seeking work sponsorship for legal permanent resi- dent status. These professionals and new graduates are willing to trade lower salaries and a temporary work status for the ability to enter and/or . . .. remam in our nation.

OCR for page 109
As the National Academy of Engineering noted in its 2001 report Building a Workforce for the Information Economy, "[T]o the extent that for- eign workers compete with native U.S. workers, economic principles sug- gest that (a) the foreign workers may displace the domestic workers and (b) the presence of the foreign workers may hold down wages in those jobs. Wages may be depressed even if all employers paid temporary non- immigrant workers the wages prevailing for the jobs for which these non- immigrant workers are hired." Or as stated by noted economist Milton Friedman (ComputerWorld, fuly 22, 2002~: "There is no doubt that the (H-1B) program is a benefit to their employers, enabling them to get workers at a lower wage, and to that extent, it is a subsidy." IEEE-USA also believes that the labor condition attestation require- ments established to safeguard jobs, wages, and working conditions in the United States are weak and unenforceable; and that the H-1B pro- gram, like other "guest worker" programs, is subject to fraud and abuse. And because H-1B workers are dependent on their employers to spon- sor the much sought after legal permanent resident status, there is signifi- cant potential for improper exploitation of these workers with respect to wages, hours, and living conditions. NATIONAL SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS A new and increasingly important SAT workforce consideration in post-9/11 America relates to national security. Current workforce devel- opment and admission policies are increasing our dependence on foreign sources of technical expertise for maintenance of critical defense, energy, financial, intelligence, telecommunications, and transportation infrastruc- tures. As recently reported by Congress's General Accounting Office (see GAO-02-972), at least 15,000 foreign SAT workers from "countries of con- cern" that are subject to security-related export licensing restrictions were able to take 15,000 U.S. jobs in 2001. These 15,000 foreign workers have access to sensitive technologies; and their countries avoid Commerce De- partment export license screening safeguards while transferring technol- ogy through their citizens. The U.S. security risk is compounded by the forecasted imminent re- tirement of substantial numbers of scientists and engineers employed by the Departments of Defense and Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and national laboratories. This is of some concern because the duration of the present economic downturn may serve to di- vert more U.S. students from engineering and scientific degrees. More importantly, disenchanted unemployed engineers are becoming more vocal and personally steering students away from engineering. While

OCR for page 109
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT employers and government officials have ignored the concerns of engi- neers who feel thrown away, the younger population may be inclined to take the engineers' advice as appropriate and act accordingly. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS lowing: In conclusion, IEEE-USA believes that all of the organizations repre- sented at this summit face an incredibly formidable, five-part challenge: How to assign responsibility for and share the cost of lifelong learn- ing that will enhance the viability of engineering careers with continual focus on performance, productivity, and employability How to make professional careers in engineering more attractive to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents at a time when more and more employers view engineering services as commodities to be purchased at the lowest possible cost, here or overseas How to address U.S. corporate needs for maintaining a positive worldwide competitive position while also maintaining a viable technical workforce for the security and economic vitality of the U.S. How to reconcile fundamental economic laws of supply and demand with the special interest pleadings of powerful political constituencies How to minimize the unintended consequences of targeted gov- ernment interventions, like the H-1B visa program, that often distort la- bor market supply and demand balancing mechanisms, depress wages, and increase unemployment. Our engineering workforce policy recommendations include the fol- Lifelong Learning Commit to a substantial, long-term collaborative effort to improve the access to and the quality of continuing education opportunities for employed, underemployed, unemployed, and recently displaced engi- neers and scientists. Improve the utilization of federal tax dollars and user fees (includ- ing H-1B visa fees) by funding educational scholarships and skills retrain- ing programs offered by public and private sector entities with an estab- lished track record for meeting the current and future workforce development needs of communities in which they operate. Make cost-effective use of new and emerging Internet-based tech- nologies to meet the instructional needs of individual professionals and improve the effectiveness, convenience, and affordability of conventional educational offerings.

OCR for page 109
Workforce Data Needs for the 21st Century Better data are needed for effective education and workforce plan- ning and policy development. Special needs include: Improved forecasting capabilities that can be used to more effec- tively assess the probable impact of changing demographic, economic, societal, technological, and national security conditions on science and engineering workforce needs Timely national, state, and local labor market information, includ- ing total U.S. population (supply) of engineers and computer scientists; reliable population of unemployed and underemployed engineers and computer scientists; inventory of high demand knowledge and skills re- quirements and identified training for satisfying skills requirements, em- ployment and retraining opportunities, types and levels of compensation, and available financial assistance Better statistics on educational and employment-based visa hold- ers, including countries of origin, educational attainment, profession or occupation, age and sex, sponsorship, and levels of compensation More effective means for assessing the validity and reliability of international comparisons of pre-college student achievement. Non-Immigrant Worker (H-1B) Visa Reforms Reduce the current H-1B visa quota to the original levels of 65,000 by the end of FY2003; work to reduce levels below 65,000, and limit visa duration to one nonrenewable, three-year period. Immediately repeal the H-1B extension feature of the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (H.R. 2215), which allows out-of-status H-1B visa holders to extend their stay beyond the statutory six-year period if their labor certification request has been pending for at least 365 days. Ensure that the educational qualifications of H-1B petitioners are rigorously verified as part of the visa application process, and conduct an audit of H-1B visa applications to see if there is a problem with respect to fraudulent representation of academic qualifications. Ensure that foreign SET services companies are not utilizing the L visa (intracompany transfer) to circumvent the H-1B restrictions by estab- lishment of U.S. subsidiaries designed solely for the purpose of importing temporary SET workers. Strengthen essential safeguards for U.S. and foreign workers by requiring all sponsors to make domestic recruitment and retention as well as prevailing wage attestations.

OCR for page 109
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT Mandate the collection and timely publication of pertinent statis- tics, including age, educational attainment, profession or occupation, country of origin, compensation, and sponsorship for all recipients of edu- cational and employment visas. Establish a viable Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) tracking system to ensure that out-of-status H-1B visa holders and other non-immigrant admissions do not become undocumented aliens (see Gen- eral Accounting Office report GAO-03-188, November 2002~. Immigration Reform ("Green Cards, Not Guest Workers") Encourage employers to decrease our national dependence on tem- porary skilled professionals and other knowledge workers by retraining the present workforce and/or hiring holders of permanent resident visas. Undergraduate and Graduate Education Increase the cost-effectiveness and relevance of technical and pro- fessional science, engineering, and technology education programs at America's accredited colleges and universities; Increase support for stipends and assistantships that will enable more U.S. students to pursue graduate and postgraduate education, while also decreasing use of foreign students and professionals as a means to stretch research dollars. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the impact of increasing reliance by American colleges and universities on foreign students and instructional and research personnel on the quality of U.S. undergraduate and graduate education, and implications for U.S. students, including women and other underrepresented minorities. Pre-College Education Continue to work together to improve the quality of instruction in math, science, communications, and problem-solving and increase tech- nological literacy in grades K-12. Support funding for recently established math and science partner- ships programs at levels originally authorized by Congress. Increase public and private support for programs with an estab- lished track record for successfully recruiting, training, retaining, and re- warding capable teachers and students, including those from groups that are underrepresented in scientific and engineering fields, such as women, minorities, handicapped, and older Americans.