US Workers Behind Korea, UK, Germany, 19 Others In Science And Math

When it comes to churning out young workers with college degrees in math and science, the United States lags well behind other advanced democracies, ranking just behind Turkey and Spain, according to a new analysis.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development analyzed education rates in its member countries and found that the U.S. is below average in the relative number of 25- to 34-year-old workers who have a degree in so-called STEM fields such as science, engineering, computing and statistics.

That’s a potential problem because research has shown that innovation in any economy depends on how many workers have such degrees, said Ronald Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.

“It is something that we should be concerned about,” Ehrenberg said

There are about 1,472 math and science grads for every 100,000 employed 25- to 34-year-olds in the United States, according to the data. The compares to more than 3,555 in Korea, which leads the chart, according to the OECD figures based on 2009 data.

The United States falls between Spain and Iceland on the chart, and is noticeably lower than the OECD average. The figures do not reflect how many people with STEM degrees are actually employed in their field or using the skills they learned.

Jobs available for graduates with degrees in math, science and engineering tend to pay well, said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. But there are plenty of ways in which American culture dissuades its most promising kids from going into those fields.

For starters, many young Americans believe they can make more money with a degree in a business, finance or a related field, Carnevale said. Americans also seem to place more value on jobs in those fields.

“(If you’re) a smart high school kid, doing well, your image of what you want to do is not to wear a white smock every day and sit on a stool with a beaker,” Carnevale said. “You’re in a culture that drives you toward more convivial and more social kinds of work, and it pays better.”

Young Americans may also not be getting enough exposure to math and science, said Cornell’s Ehrenberg.

At the K-12 level, he said, it can be tough to recruit great math and science teachers because college graduates who specialize in those areas can probably find better-paying work outside teaching.

In addition, some students may have a hard time finding the right role models in college math and science departments, said Ehrenberg, who noted that many science and math faculties are dominated by white and Asian men.

Ehrenberg said many colleges and universities have tried to recruit faculty from more diverse backgrounds and to develop more family-friendly policies to retain women and non-traditional students in the fields.

“I think role models do matter,” Ehrenberg said.

For now, at least, Carnevale said many companies are simply poaching talented young science and math graduates from other countries. But as those countries ramp up their own businesses, that may be tougher to do.

Still, he said it also may be hard to fight the biases that have come to value lucrative non-scientific fields such as finance and law.

“A labor market is a social institution as well as an economic one,” he said.


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  • by Formerly Pirateman on Feb 13, 2012 at 05:48 AM
    To saywha?: Guess what? You act like you know about education and seem interested in it. Please explain what,"saywha?" means? That's right! It isn't even English! In fact, in any context besides telling a baby (or a puppydog as some do) to actually say, "What", then there is no translation for it in the English language. So much for simple minds. Your use of it tells me ALL I (or any typical educated person in America - emphasis typical) need to know about you.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 04:51 PM
    The GOP Answer.....Put kids to work as janitors!!!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 13, 2012 at 05:50 AM in reply to
      Yeah, there is a segment of our society that no matter how much you "educate" them, work is not in their vocabulary. So ANON@7:51, do you have a personal problem with people working?
  • by Otis Location: Maldives on Feb 12, 2012 at 03:28 AM
    This is just plain ole laziness. Math and science are hard, takes lots of concentration and study to learn. Most kids are attention deficit which is another way of saying they are lazy. No drug gonna cure that.
  • by bruce whitaker Location: Bear Grass on Feb 11, 2012 at 11:34 PM
    Bear Grass has proposed a charter school. The school will be for science and math. Now, the local school board is trying to block it. Says to much money will be spent. What if this school brings other families from around North Carolina? Would it not bring in more monies to Martin County?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 02:35 PM in reply to bruce whitaker
      There is more to it than they want a math and science school and you know it!
  • by Steve Location: Ayden on Feb 11, 2012 at 08:57 PM
    This is not a recent revelation. When the US Dept of Education was created 30 years ago the US was #1 or top 5 in every category. We now spend more as a percentage of GDP than we ever have BUT over $100 billion is wasted on Washington DC politics. Just like everything else the federal government is not designed to control education. Shut it down and return the money to the states and local school boards. Throwing more money at a broken system is ignorant.
    • reply
      by hope on Feb 12, 2012 at 05:09 AM in reply to Steve
      I have to agree with Steve. Government should not oversee this venture.
    • reply
      by Formerly Pirateman on Feb 12, 2012 at 05:14 AM in reply to Steve
      Einstein said the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over yet expect a different result. We have insane people who amazingly think they are brilliant using our children as pawns in their experiments to "improve" education. However, they fail miserably and are not even noble in the attempt. Instead of basic education, they continue to come up with new theories of education to "improve" it. The throw money at education year after year and get the same failed result. Their answer? Throw even more money at education for them to play with! They are insane.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 02:45 PM in reply to Formerly Pirateman
        I say the definition of it is to keep reading your posts!
        • reply
          by Formerly Pirateman on Feb 12, 2012 at 04:40 PM in reply to
          For your weak mind? Yes, it is.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Feb 13, 2012 at 05:59 AM in reply to
          I think you meant to say weak stomach!
        • reply
          by Formerly Pirateman on Feb 13, 2012 at 07:41 AM in reply to
          I agree the poster has a meager and deficient intestinal fortitude.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 02:44 PM in reply to Steve
      The problem is that a good portion of that money never makes it to a classroom. When it does make it to a classroom it is for outdated technology or their isn't enough money to keep it running. Not to mention the fact that many schools have to purchase items through companies that they have contracts with instead of the highest bidder. Also, we could stop feeding so many students twice a day for free and that should clear up some funds.
      • reply
        by Formerly Pirateman on Feb 12, 2012 at 04:41 PM in reply to
        Ok, point well made and well taken.
  • by hope Location: NC on Feb 11, 2012 at 06:25 PM
    why not offer scholarships to smart people and not just the poor. might be an incentive for some to step up if they knew there was something to be gained. just a thought.
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Feb 11, 2012 at 06:21 PM
    The sad thing that has happened in this country is that success is measured in dollars. You can be the most uneducated, ignorant, predjudiced, thieving person on the block, but HEY if you got money, then I guess you are successful. The public schools are under attack, tuition is out of reach for the common person and we have politicians trying to deny science simply because they have been paid to do so. Too bad money can't buy you smarts, huh Repugs? That is why we have sunk so low. We value wealth more than hard work and intelligence.
    • reply
      by A Republican on Feb 11, 2012 at 06:48 PM in reply to Barlow
      I agree with you that Public Education can't withstand deep budget cuts year after year. But have to say, it takes hard work and or smarts to become wealthy in most instances.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2012 at 07:37 PM in reply to A Republican
        Not really, some people just get lucky, some are born into it, some win it, others steal it. Not to hate on athletes or actors and actress or say they don't work hard or are stupid people, but do many of them deserve the millions they get in comparison to a person working in a coal mine?
        • reply
          by Barbara on Feb 11, 2012 at 09:29 PM in reply to
          Anonymous @10:37, it is a supply-demand kind of thing. Lots of people can work in coal mines, but there aren't that many people who have the ability to be top-level athletes or actors. Hard work will take you places for sure, but there will always be somebody smarter, richer, more talented, etc., etc., etc. The lesson is that life really is not fair and we are not all truly equal. It is each person's choice, though, to take the hand they've been dealt and run with it to make it the best it can be. Or not.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2012 at 11:26 PM in reply to
          Anyone can work in a coal mine is the difference
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 04:19 AM in reply to Barlow
      Guess we should all be drop out drug dealers then,huh.
  • by Surfer girl on Feb 11, 2012 at 05:54 PM
    Just keep cutting funding for education folks.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2012 at 06:35 PM in reply to Surfer girl
      Why not when less was being spent on education it was better!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 06:18 AM in reply to
        Cutting funding is not the answer. It takes money to pay for technology, teachers, supplies etc. Students need to be supported and mentored, not just passed along. They need to be taught to THINK!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 04:45 PM in reply to
          That's your problem. They will think when given the chance; they just need to be taught facts. You want to teach them WHAT to think NOT how to think. If it must be "taught" to a person, then they are incapable of it anyway to any meaningful degree unless they choose to begin doing it.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2012 at 04:51 PM
    Many universities are too concerned with athletics to worry about academics. ECU is a prime example. They cut academics when things get tight, but I don't see anything being cut from athletics.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2012 at 06:55 PM in reply to
      Because athletics is excelling; education is not! Coaches do there jobs well; educrats and teachers do not!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2012 at 07:50 PM in reply to
        They're not doing their jobs if they're not winning, so really coaches that get wins on the board are doing their job. So ECU's coaches are failing, they're also way over-paid. You have coaches making millions and tenured professors only making 100,000K. It's disgusting that we place sports so far above academics. We as a nation don't reward intelligence, we reward being good at throwing a football. You can go out and probably ask 100 people who they're favorite athlete of the last 10 years is and get hundreds of responses, you could ask those same people who their favorite academic of the last 10 years is and you'll get blank stares.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2012 at 11:11 PM in reply to
          $100K a year for "tenured" professors is way too much for what you get. Coaches are also judged by the money they bring in for the school and the tickets sold and the publicity generated for the school. You've got a pretty simple mind if you are a professor. Most "tenured professors" are too lazy to publish and create revenue and publicity for the school, so you get to whine, itch and complain about being paid $100K a year. Poor baby, a wasted life. If the world only knew what great minds they were missing! LOL
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 06:18 AM in reply to
        That is obvious. It's Their not There You must have been a jock.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 02:03 PM in reply to
          Name calling. That is so professional. Do you still wondor why you are not paid like a professional. LOL
      • reply
        by saywha? on Feb 12, 2012 at 06:31 AM in reply to
        Incorrect.......at state supported schools academics are supported by state appropriated funds while athletics are supported by private donations and student fees. Two different revenue streams.......one that is fair game for the state to cut while the other is not.
        • reply
          by Not A Fan on Feb 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM in reply to saywha?
          Students do not have an option regarding athletic fees. This costs over $500 per semester to students at ECU regardless of their use of athletic facilities or support of sports. Athletics is a hungry, overbearing ogre that demands way too much attention.
  • by NC Teacher on Feb 11, 2012 at 03:50 PM
    Europe is flooded with illegals from Eastern Europe and North Africa. Many more illegals are sliding in there than here. Many come in through "human trafficking". It used to be called slavery.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 12, 2012 at 02:03 PM in reply to NC Teacher
      And they used to be teachers. Now they are educators.
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