TechNet Calls for Doubling of U.S. Engineering Students to Improve Nation's Competitiveness & Economic Growth

Oct 14, 2010, 13:22 ET from TechNet

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- TechNet, the bipartisan policy and political network of CEOs that promotes the growth of the innovation economy, today called for a national goal to double the number of engineering students graduating from U.S. colleges and universities in the next ten years in order to improve American competitiveness and economic growth in the long term.  

"In conversations with the National Academy of Science, academics, economists and other technology leaders, TechNet has identified the limited number of U.S. students pursuing engineering degrees as one of the most significant threats to the country's long-term competitiveness," said Rey Ramsey, President and CEO of TechNet. "The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2018, the demand for engineers in the U.S. will grow 11% overall, and demand for environmental engineers is expected to jump approximately 30%. At the same time, nearly one-third of U.S. manufacturing companies responding to a recent survey say they are suffering from some level of skills shortage. In this global economy, we must take every step possible to ensure America's talent base is prepared to compete and innovate for the jobs of tomorrow.  Our global competitors are doing everything they can to invest in their human capital – it's time for the United States to do the same."

Each year, roughly approximately 70,000 students earn a graduate degree in engineering. However, about half of all students in America's STEM graduate programs are foreign born who may not be allowed to work in the country once the program is completed. TechNet remains a strong proponent for the immigration reform necessary to keep the world's best and brightest in the United States. But TechNet recognizes that no one policy or program will remedy the engineering crisis. To build the kind of workforce that can fill the well-paying, highly-skilled jobs now being created, the United States must look at both short-term and long-term solutions. TechNet proposes to double the number of American engineers to approximately 70,000 each year to meet the growing demand for high-skilled jobs in the next ten years.

Five years ago, the National Academy of Sciences warned of the growing threat from foreign competitors to our nation's competitiveness and subsequently the quality of life that most Americans enjoy today. For example, China has replaced the U.S. as the world's number one high-technology exporter and is now second in the world in publication of biomedical research articles. In response, a bipartisan group in Congress supported the COMPETES Act – a bill that turned many of the Academy's recommendations into law. The legislation was the most comprehensive overhaul to America's education and practical science programs in more than 25 years. The bill is scheduled to sunset this year, and supporters are calling for the programs to continue indefinitely. In August, the Academy warned that what progress had been made is now at risk – and there is still more to be done.

"Increasing the number of U.S. engineers is essential if we are to continue leading the global economy," added Rey Ramsey.  "The public and private sectors are ready, willing and able to work together to address this challenge. Now we must find the will to get it done."

In its proposal to double the number of U.S. engineering students, TechNet seeks to:

  • Expand the opportunities for aspiring engineers to earn vital real-life experience – especially underrepresented populations – made possible with $100 million in federal funding to help launch and implement programs like the Congressional Engineering and National Lab fellowships;
  • Provide mid-career professionals more opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills to keep up with the changing market needs, an initiative that can help curb the loss of skilled professionals to other opportunities;
  • Expand opportunities for engineering professionals willing to commit on a full- or part-time basis to address the projected shortfall in engineering instructors; and
  • Promote and expand opportunities for pursuing a degree and career in engineering to minorities and women who are underrepresented in the field.

TechNet's Public Policy Agenda to Support a 21st Century Workforce:

America's economic leadership is a reflection of our historic national commitment to a quality education and training for everyone. But other countries are surpassing the U.S. in preparing their children for the jobs of tomorrow. Today, the U.S. is 29th out of 109 countries in the percentage of 24-year-olds with a math or science degree. Innovation and the resulting economic growth require a world-class workforce. TechNet supports both short and long-term policies to ensure our nation has the knowledge workers who will drive economic growth today and into the future.  In addition to the call for doubling the number of U.S. engineering students, TechNet's overall policy agenda in this area supports:

  • Improving U.S. Education System and Job Training Skills. The public and private sectors must work together to develop initiatives to improve science and math education, improve worker training programs and increase the number of Americans attaining degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through new programs and resources that strengthen our public schools.
  • High-Skilled Immigration Reform. TechNet promotes comprehensive highly skilled immigration reform including an increase in the number of H-1B visas available and reforms to the employment-based green card process to ensure the U.S. has a highly skilled workforce to meet today's needs.

About TechNet:

TechNet is the national, bipartisan network of CEOs that promotes the growth of technology industries and the economy by building long-term relationships between technology leaders and policymakers and by advocating a targeted policy agenda. TechNet's members represent more than one million employees in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, e-commerce and finance. TechNet has offices in Washington, DC, Palo Alto, Sacramento, Seattle, Boston and Austin. Web address: You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @technetupdate.