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?