Monday, November 18, 2013

Canada’s Missing STEM Skills Shortage - IEEE Spectrum

Canada’s Missing STEM Skills Shortage - IEEE Spectrum
IEEE is out again, citing a recent research by Canadian bank. The author is happy to report that:
But the counter-claims didn't carry much weight until a few weeks ago. That’s when senior economists at TD Bank, the second-largest bank and financial services company in Canada, published an in-depth analysis (pdf) of the alleged wide-spread skills shortage in Canada and found the claims “exaggerated.”
One bank's claim of "exaggeration" does not make the "counter-claim" much heavier, but let's look at the research.
"We also put to the test some commonly-held perceptions surrounding jobs and skills more generally. There are few subjects that garner the same degree of attention as jobs, given their critical importance to an economy and households’ standard of living. At the same time, however, few areas tend to be such fertile ground for widespread perceptions to form, some of which are based on anecdote rather than hard data. In recent years, the notion of a severe and growing mismatch between the types of skills demanded by employers and those possessed by job seekers has topped the headlines. There are also widespread views that the Canadian job market has become increasingly polarized and that today’s youth will be a “lost generation.”
Our analysis of the available data reveals that while some of these perceptions are exaggerated, others appear to be closer to the mark. We debunk the notion that Canada is facing an imminent skills crisis or that the job market is headed for persistent economy-wide labour shortages over the long haul, as some have led us to believe. Canada’s labour market has demonstrated elements of “polarization” across skill and wage levels, but not to the same extent as in the United States. Meanwhile, our data test uncovers evidence of skills mismatch across certain occupations and provinces. Unfortunately, information gaps don’t allow us to ascertain to what extent, or if, the situation has worsened over the past decade. "
So, Canada is not "facing an imminent skills crisis or that the job market is headed for persistent economy-wide labour shortages over the long haul". That is equivalent to that there are enough STEM graduates in Canada!

Look deeper into the report, we can see why Canada has escaped "an imminent skill crisis."
Canada’s current immigration points system scores potential newcomers on their level of education. Not surprisingly, immigrant adults continue to be overrepresented among Canadian university degree holders. While immigrants make up roughly one-quarter of Canada’s adult population, they hold roughly one-third of all university degrees. The out-sized share of immigrants by occupation is most noticeable for STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) – roughly 60% of all engineering degrees are held by immigrants.
Sixty percent! I doubt that is the prescriptions IEEE editors are looking for.

As I said in previous blogs, the job market is globalized, like it or not. The jobs can go out, and workers can come in. If one continues to be obsessed with the job security of American engineering jobs, they will be disappointed. Just look north.

Robert, read the report in full before you quote it next time!

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