Raytheon Corporation, a defense and security contractor with $25 billion in sales in 2009, is looking for engineers — a lot of them. William Swanson, Raytheon’s CEO, told the Boston Chamber of Commerce this week that the company plans to hire 4,500 engineers this year, and it’s having a tough time finding them.
Why? Swanson claims there aren’t enough engineering candidates in the American workforce. He notes that the number of American students interested in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) shrinks the further you go in the educational system. Of the 4 million American ninth-graders in 2001, says Swanson, 167,000 will earn a scientific or technical degree by 2011, and of those just 64,000 will become engineers. He expects this to continue for some time.
Raytheon is making efforts to encourage more education in science and technology. Swanson says the company devotes 60% of its charitable giving to math and science education, including development of a simulation and modeling tool to help businesses, educators, and policy makers better understand the dynamics of the STEM labor market.
Understanding the STEM labor market can be a matter of debate, as Beryl Benderly pointed out in Science Careers two years ago. In particular, the experience of shortages by one company may not be reflective of the market as a whole. Benderly talked to experts who study labor market dynamics, who find that a shortage in one discipline or area of the country can go on while other fields or regions are experiencing gluts.
Our editor Jim Austin often discusses dynamics of the scientific workforce on this blog. In February 2009, he described the discrepancies between perceptions and realities of labor shortages and gluts by employers and job-seekers.
Hat tip: Experience blog