Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Foreign Employees: Better Math and Science Scores or Third World Wages

There was an article about ACT scores in the Minneapolis Star/Tribune yesterday. There was one statement in the article that raised a question in my mind. Minnesota led the nation on the ACT, but Susan Heegard, the director of the state's Office of Higher Education, said this:

"Once again, this is great news, but we have some work to do if we want to compete in this global environment. If you talk to employers, they say they are increasingly recruiting students from around the world."

I know that her point is that American students don't do well enough in science in math, but is that really the most important reason that these employers are "increasingly recruiting students from around the world"?

I say that because I remember in the late 1990s when we were hearing that there weren't enough computer programmers. Young people were told that if they earned college degrees in that field that they would be set for life. Two of my sons went into computer programming, and both of them did get jobs shortly after graduating from college. But within just a couple of years computer programmers were being laid off from their jobs all around the United States. Both of my sons managed to survive layoffs at their firms, but many of their friends did not. What happened? U.S. firms have begun outsourcing computer programming jobs to foreign countries, not because of low American math and science scores, but because they can pay someone else third world wages to do these "set for life" jobs.

So my question is this: How much of the "recruitment of students around the world" happens because they can't find Americans to do the jobs, and how much of it takes place because of the incredibly low wages American businesses can get away with paying some people from foreign countries?


Anonymous Doug Johnson said...

"The 25% of the population in China with the highest IQ’s...

Is greater than the total population of North America.

In India, it’s the top 28%.

Translation for teachers: They have more honors kids than we have kids.

Did you know . . .

China will soon become the number one English speaking country in the world.

If you took every single job in the U.S. today and shipped it to China . . .

China would still have a labor surplus.

from http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2006/08/did-you-know.html

And is it any wonder China and India crank out more engineers than we do???

The whole PowerPoint is well worth seeing.


8/22/2006 11:44 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Hi Doug! We had a presentation similar to this at the beginning of school last year. One statistic that was thrown at us was that India has more people filling out U.S. tax returns than the U.S. does. I find that hard to believe, but that's what the guy said.

8/22/2006 4:29 PM  
Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Interesting information and kind of scary. I'm wondering how motivation figures into the picture as well. American students as a whole don't seem to be motivated as other students. Everyone wants to know how far they can go and how much they can get with the least amount of effort. I do believe the lower wages is a factor as well.

Dennis, I never received your email. Can you send your response again to teachingsocialstudies@consultant.com thanks!

8/22/2006 5:51 PM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

Thoughtful and interesting post.

It brought to mind the incredibly low wages American businesses can get away with paying American employees. I've just left Florida, where I managed to meet a large number of people working two or three jobs.

Of course, as low as those wages are, they're not low enough. I wonder what will happen when Disney figures out a way to outsource those poor people getting $6.15 an hour to dress up like Mickey Mouse and sign autographs when it's 97 degrees in the shade.

8/22/2006 9:14 PM  
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