There is a persistent problem of underutilization of existing data on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers. Although worker mobility is undermeasured in traditional STI employment statistics, there are longitudinal studies that capture data on movement of workers with STEM degrees within and outside traditional science and engineering jobs. Staff from a range of agencies emphasized to the panel that they have much underutilized data, particularly regarding human capital. For example, at the panel’s workshop Erika McEntarfer of the Census Bureau described a potential use of data from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Survey that could link workers longitudinally across jobs. Her division is currently working on this project. Integrating these data (along with similar data on firm dynamics) into the statistics offered by NCSES would create a useful set of indicators. Trends on how macroeconomic fluctuations affect workers and knowledge flows in science and engineering occupations would be just one output from these data. More descriptive data on innovators would also broaden understanding of the skill sets that lead to advances in science and technological innovation. Getting this information would require case studies, which could enhance understanding of the statistics based on counting stocks and flows of individuals and knowledge capital.
There are also data from BRDIS that have not been fully used. Headcounts and related statistics are available for the United States and worldwide for employment, R&D employment, R&D employment by occupation and gender, and highest degree earned. For the United States, there are also counts of H-1B and L-1 visa holders.4 Full-time-equivalent (FTE) counts are available for science and engineering workers, as are the number of these FTEs that are funded by the federal government in the United States. Thus, NCSES could publish statistics other than those released in the 2010 InfoBrief on employment statistics. In particular, NCSES could use BRDIS alone to show the number of non-U.S. citizens who have H-1B or L-1 visas and are employed in the United States as R&D scientists and engineers. NCSES has also published an InfoBrief on foreign science and engineering students who are enrolled in schools in the United States.5 Currently, NCSES publications do not include statistics on how many U.S. employees in science and engineering occupations were trained in a specific foreign country. Continued collaborative effort between NCSES and the Department of Homeland Security are expected to yield better STEM education and workforce indicators.
Based on a crude measure of interest to users of the SEI online statistics, education and workforce measures are the most viewed (unadjusted for length of views), with statistics on states a distant second. NCSES’s bedrock statistics on human capital, therefore, are one of the agency’s most important products. However, more extensive analytically based measures of
4The H-1B and L-1 visas are for foreign workers in specialty occupations in fields that require highly specialized knowledge and intra-country transferees, respectively. For the fields covered, see http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=73566811264a3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=73566811264a3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCRD [January 2012].
5See InfoBrief NSF 10-324, July 2010: available http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf10324/nsf10324.pdf [December 2011]. All of the statistics reported in this brief are special tabulations from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System database, maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.