FIGURE S-1 Number of master’s degrees awarded in the United States, by visa status.
SOURCE: Lehming (2011).
However, the process by which the United States met its workforce needs so well in the past is in jeopardy, for several reasons:
• U.S. national immigration policy places caps on the number of high-tech (i.e., H1-B) visas allotted to for-profit organizations, and this pool of visa holders is an important source of scientists and engineers, while the coveted green card conferring permanent work status can take 6 to 10 years to obtain. In the short run, further constraints on H1-B visa entrants may make it more difficult for DOD to recruit citizens if these constraints increase competition for them from the private sector.
• Individuals who manage to overcome the barriers posed by U.S. immigration laws and remain in the United States as noncitizens after receiving their degrees are excluded from most defense-related work because of the associated requirement to hold a security clearance and the rigidity of the security clearance process (National Research Council, 2010b).
• Opportunities are increasing in many parts of the world for scientists and engineers—both U.S. citizens and noncitizens—to build productive careers in other lands because talent is in such widespread demand (Wadhwa et al., 2009).
• The current DOD science and engineering workforce is an aging one (Figure S-2), with a disproportionate segment of scientists and engineers eligible to retire during the next few years (Figure S-3).
• Despite an increase in the percentage of the defense industrial base STEM workforce that is under the age of 35, the median age of such workers increased to 47 in 2010, from 45 in 2005.
• A recent survey of over 59,000 college students in various fields of study at over 300 universities assessed the desirability of potential employers. In engineering fields, the Air Force ranked 15th, followed by the Navy at 34th and the Army at 41st. In the natural sciences, the Air Force ranked 20th, followed by the Navy at 22nd and the Army at 25th. In neither of these two fields was DOD ranked in the top 100. In the field of information technology, however, DOD was ranked 20th, above the U.S Air Force at 31st, U.S. Navy at 34th, and U.S. Army at 60th (Universum, 2012).1
1 In the survey, the interpretation of which organizational components were encompassed by “DOD,” “U.S. Army,” and so forth was left to the survey respondents.