1998 by the American Engineering Association, Inc.


January, 1998 Volume 8, Number 1




The American Engineering Association has asked the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee and the House Science Committee to look into the Commerce Department’s support of an industry associations "convocation" dealing with a purported "shortage" of computer professionals.

The industry group, Information Technology Association of America, has issued a report, which has a predetermined conclusion, that there is a shortage of some 190,000 Information Technology professionals. Since the release of the ITAA report, the Department of Commerce has released their own report, entitled "Americas New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers", repeating nearly verbatim much of the biased information in the ITAA report. According to a June 13, 1997, memo from John Lafrance of the Department's Technology Administration, this effort includes the establishment of various task forces from academia, industry and government to generate action plans to solve the alleged problem, address public policy issues such as immigration, taxation and education and training grants and get "buy-in" for these solutions. The action plans will be presented at a conference entitled the "National Information Technology Workforce Convocation" to be held January 12-13, 1998 at the University of California/Berkeley.

AEA President, Bill Reed, said the group objects to a department of the federal government using taxpayer funds to promote policies which fosters greater immigration, age discrimination, and reduced salaries for engineers and technical professionals.

Reed said "Since the early 1960’s we have graduated over eight million engineers and scientist and today only employ about half that number. A person normally works for thirty five to forty years; where are the other four million or so technical and scientific graduates?"

"Of all the technical employees in the Information Technology industry only about 25% have computer and information science degrees. The other seventy five percent come from such diverse groups as Psychology

and Physical Science degrees. How may hundreds of thousands with these degrees are potentially available? It is ludicrous to think there are not capable people available to fill these positions."

"Microsoft indicates they only hire about 2% of their applicants and we believe that is common among the information technology companies. Where is the shortage?"


Reed said "In the mid 1980’s we heard the cry of wolf from the American Electronics Association, in the early 1990’s it was the National Science Foundation and today it seems it is the ITAA and Department of Commerce. In each case, the purpose of these reports was to show the need to increase immigration and increase funding for the academics. In each of the first two cases, the stories were followed by legislation in Congress to increase the importation of foreign workers. Somehow the perceived "shortage" never appears, but thousands of foreign workers do."

According to the Deutsch, Shea & Evans (D,S & E) High Tech Recruiting Index (HTRI) and an analysis by Robert Rivers, the curve shows less than 16% of the 30 year time period from 1960 to 1990 when there was room for new engineers without displacing older engineers. The rest of the 30 years or 84% of the time, there was room for new engineers only if older engineers were displaced. Twenty five percent (25%) of the period there was no room for new engineers and older engineers were still being displaced. The D, S & E (HTRI) is a demand study by counting advertisements for 4 year technical degreed personnel but is no longer collected. "The ITAA/DOC effort is aimed at extracting public funds for increased immigration, more money for the universities and more money for the federal bureaucracy with the object to reduce payroll costs for the companies."

"Any increase in immigration for IT professionals will result in increased immigration for all technical professionals. The changes in immigration will not be limited to IT professional and has, as always, been for "Engineers and Scientists" regardless of actual need."


AE Editor Retires ………...……….…….… p. 2

Fran Steel Obituary ...……………..…….… p. 2

AEA ITAA Exec. Summary ...………….… p. 3

AEA Fights Shortage Propaganda .….….… p. 4

AEA Membership Form ………………….. p. 3

Ph.D Glut in Industry & Academe …….….. p. 6

Philanthrophist Wanted ………………….... p. 3

D, S & E Demand Index …………….……. p. 7

ITAA & Virginia Tech Vacancy Review .... p. 8

Reach Out ………………………………… p. 2

Reader’s Voice …………………………… p. 3

Congressional Representatives Addresses

At: Error! Reference source not found.

AE Editor, Robert Bruce Resigns


Robert Bruce resigned as editor of American Engineer, (AE) after holding the position for about 6 years. He found it took about 20 hours to assemble, edit, proof read and see through publication for each issue of AE. Having produced about 40 issues, he'd expended about 800 hours doing the job and felt 'burned out. Bob recently started consulting that absorbed not only his attention, but also much of his energy. Thus he retired as editor.

Bob’s efforts to enhance the engineering profession go back as far as 1973. That’s 24 years of solid dedicated involvement with AEA and the well known Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE). For these efforts Bob received three IEEE Certificates of Appreciation, the IEEE-USA Citation of Honor and the Region I, Alex Gruenwald Award for Professionalism. But, one can’t sum up Bob’s contributions with awards and certificates. Bob made a difference. He made things happen. He was active at the Long Island Section, Region 1 and National levels of IEEE. Bob attended and fought for engineers at 20 Annual National PACE conferences, and wrote over 100 articles on aspects of engineering careers.

Bob graduated from City College of New York: with a BA in English and a MSEE degree. He had 35 years of progressively more challenging experience in design, and development of electronics hardware for military and industrial applications. He retired from a major aerospace company on Long Island, in which he did design in power electronics, power distribution, control and computer-aided analysis.

After retirement, he held several consulting jobs. He said, "This was the first time I felt professional. Prior to that, I was just one of the hired help."

Robert Bruce remarks, "Until such time as engineers have a strong professional association, they will continue to be just skilled, hired hands, as I was for 35 years. IEEE is an order of magnitude more influential than AEA. However it does not use this influence to benefit practicing (working) engineers, because it is too beholden to academics and corporate executives who dominate its Board of Directors. Therefor, AEA is a more beneficial path to professionalism.

We at AEA, as always, offer our best wishes to Bob and his wife Diane. We can’t thank him enough for his efforts and participation over the many years, with AEA, as editor of the "American Engineer", but also for his many other contributions to enhance the profession for all engineers. Robert Bruce is a true professional.

Thank you Bob



Engineers lose their job because they did their job. It’s known as "First man finished – First man fired."

Bean counter: One who counts the beans – cannot analyze or evaluate the condition, system or performance, a non-productive person that must justify their existence by taking something from someone else who is just trying to be productive.

Fran Steele Passes Away


Fran Steele, wife of Dave Steele the Secretary and Treasurer of AEA, died on December 22,1997 after several years of poor health. Mrs. Steele was the founder and owner of Metro Office Management (MOM) of Ft. Worth, Texas.

Metro Office Management (MOM) is the company which does bookkeeping and record keeping for AEA. Fran’s daughters, Cindy and Jan, have both worked at MOM for a number of years and anyone who has called AEA has probably spoken to one or the other.

In addition to the professional relationship to AEA through MOM, Fran was a real supporter of AEA and a true friend of both AEA and myself. AEA will never be able to repay Fran for all she has done for us. She will be missed.

Bill Reed, President



Reach Out

Reach out to the active volunteers who are making AEA and this publication possible. Tell them what you like or what you dislike. Provide them with question, answers and information.


Bill Reed, AEA President ………...….……

P.O. Box 820473, Fort Worth, TX 76182-0473


Richard F. Tax, AEA VP & Editor

630 Montview Pl. River Vale, NJ 07675


Ron Graziano, Readers Voice


Dr. David C. Lewis, Immigration …

609 Sideling Court, Vienna, VA 22180


Robert Rivers, Manpower ………

P.O. Box 129, Union, NH 03887



We encourage members of the profession to write to the AMERICAN ENGINEER. and to the volunteers that make AEA work. We need your encouragement, thoughts and support if we are to succeed. You can help by keeping in touch and encouraging others to join and support our efforts. With electronic communications, hardware, software and systems built and designed by members of the U.S. Engineering Community we can now be united.

"People can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened"

John W. Newbern





Billy E. Reed, President

MANPOWER COMMITTEE, Robert A. Rivers, Chair


The report presents reliable statistically based data on the supply of talented technically competent individuals of educational and experiential specialties normally used by the Information Technology, (IT) industry. The data shows a supply exceeding the industry requirements by several times. The demand is also shown to be expanding by 5.8% annually equal to 96,000 in 1997. The statements of 190,000 job vacancies cannot be supported by an analysis of the survey except at the 5466 level.

It is shown that vacancies are not being filled because of unnecessary and excessive specifications on the skills needed. Many companies report hiring only 2% of applicants. The reliable BLS median salary data indicates no significant wage inflation. The data indicates that employers are holding the line on their internal salary structures. The relatively high demand is increasing salary expectations of the very narrow specialties in high demand. Openings are left unfilled when employers will not meet the market price or relax their skills requirements in order to fill the vacancies.


Industry, by a majority of at least 69%, is not doing the training necessary to enhance the skills of its workforce. That large majority is spending less than $99.00 per employee per year on training and much of that is non technology training. As a result they are not filling their expanded openings with their own employees. They then bid on experienced people in the marketplace and find salaries on narrow specialties above what they are paying internally and are willing to pay for new hires.

Most of the recommendations for action involve changes on the part of employers. First and foremost is to relax the job specifications to what is really necessary. Increase the level of available on the job training. Applicants skilled in related areas can be expected to produce within a couple of weeks. With that added flexibility in hiring, most of the vacancies would disappear. Second, meet the market prices of those specialists that are really needed. It won’t effect the median wages of the company since there are so few in the super specialty categories. Then start recruiting among mid-career and older workers that have IT skills and can readily profit from on the job training in the skills of the employer’s choice.

Shortages are creatures of planned economies such as in the now defunct USSR. We had labor shortages during WW II because of wage controls and restrictions on changing jobs. We now have a market economy where freedom to hire at uncontrolled prices allows access to the supply by anyone. If you can find the supply at some price there is no shortage.

AEA and the Engineering Community needs your help.

Philanthropist Wanted: One philanthropist with $3000000 or 100000 members with $30 will make things happen. We need the support and participation of all members of the engineering community if AEA is going to succeed in the fight for a better profession. There are 2 million engineers working in the U.S. today. How many are unemployed or under employed is hard to measure. Five (5%) percent of these employed engineers can make a difference between the success and failure of AEA. You can make a difference.

Please don’t leave this to the other engineer. Remember, to all other engineers, you are the other engineer. Help AEA bring the fight to Washington. No one else is going to help you and AEA will make things happen.


I want to enhance my career and help the AEA.

Please enter my application and add my support to AEA’s fight.

Please help AEA by distributing copies of this application to your associates.



The American Engineering Association (AEA) is making every effort to protect the careers of American Engineers from erosion and destruction by an oversupply of engineers and programmers. To maintain U.S. engineering capabilities, engineers must have the opportunity to enhance their skills through continued in-depth professional practice. An over supply of engineers brought about by false manpower shortage reports and Engineer Shortage Propaganda (ESP) deprives engineers of these opportunities. The destructive force of an over supply has been induced by the activities of academia, government and industry with their fabrication of engineering and programmer shortages. Engineers of all disciplines are invited to support and to join AEA in the fight to protect their careers, the profession, and U.S. engineering capabilities.


History of the Shortage Myth.

History is repeating itself with the shortage shouters once more involved in another engineering manpower shortage scam. Today’s shortage shouters, as usual, are industry and academia represented by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) and the government by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). This big three combination has been active previously and destroyed many an engineers’ career and devastated the hopes of our young engineering graduates who never got the engineering jobs they studied for so diligently.

During the mid 1970’s, my first experience with engineer shortage propaganda, the shortage shouters were the Engineering Manpower Commission (EMC) of the Engineers Joint Council (EJC) now known as the Engineering Workforce Commission (EWC) of the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES) respectively. When the EJC lost their credibility, they changed their name to AAES and passed responsibility for the fabrication of Engineer Shortage Propaganda (ESP) over to the American ELECTRONICS Association, emphasis on the word Electronics and not to be confused with the American Engineering Association. The American Electronics Association is supported by their university and corporate sponsors. On the other hand, the American Engineering Association, Inc. is supported by members of the engineering community and is dedicated to the enhancement of the engineering profession.

The American Electronics Association’s, shortage propaganda of 1983 was full of errors and faults and "OOPS" methodology was at fault. It was, however, successful in being cited for legislation (H.R. 1310 OF 1983) that got the NSF $500,000,000. It served academia, industry and the government’s National Science Foundation. When the American Electronics Association lost their credibility they turned the responsibility over to what seemed to be a "credible" government agency - the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue the effort. This was stated in press releases of the time.

Prior to and during 1989 the government’s National Science Foundation disseminated their shortage paper in which the title "Future Scarcities of Scientists and Engineers: Problems and Solutions", predicted a shortage would come. This wasn’t a study; it was part of a scam to gain industry support, over supply industry with manpower and get more taxpayers dollars for academia and NSF. NSF got their money, the colleges got their money, immigration doors were opened wider for more cheap foreign engineers for industry, and foreign students to fill the classrooms. Our kids and families, mislead by shortage propaganda and headlines, sent our children off to the engineering colleges. Our young people studied engineering and chased jobs that never existed. Yesterday’s immigrant


became today’s victim and was displaced at the same time as the older U.S. engineer. And, today’s immigrant will be tomorrow’s victim.

Three years later in April 1992, after the damage was done, a House Investigations and Oversight subcommittee, chaired by Representative Howard Wolpe, found the NSF report to be unscientific. Congressman Wolpe conceded that when Democrats and Republicans present data, people recognized the potential of a built-in bias. "No one expects the NSF to play that game." "This was not good science", Wolpe said. Now, we know from experience what we can expect from our government bureaucracy. The National Science Foundation paper was used, as other Engineer Shortage Propaganda (ESP) before to influence legislation to increase funding for NSF and academia and increase immigration quotas for engineers for industry and students to fill engineering classrooms. What were the consequences for the government employees responsible for this scam? NSF got a bigger budget. And, people selling education or shortages were still quoting the discredited NSF study for years to follow.

For more than 30 years both the public and the engineering community have been hurt by reports, papers and propaganda about engineer shortages. As always they use fear that America will fail, business will suffer and opportunities will be lost. Then the shortage shouters impress you with their thoroughness and inundate you with charts, graphs and statistics of such quantity that it takes more time to fully evaluate or understand than most readers can devote. They close without ever mentioning the word "money" but, money and only money is what their paper is really about. They say more workers are better and not enough is a disaster. They argue; they need more U. S. trained and educated, the college degree production is too low, and immigration is too restricted. We must fix this through legislation. Why? Legislation is the mechanism necessary to obtain the money the colleges need to increase production, and legislation removes the immigration barriers for their select group. Congressional representatives have been fooled in the past and will continue to be deceived by the government bureaucracy they created.


Latest Shortage Scam

Well, it’s all happening again. The new shortage myth has been kicked off with a report by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) entitled: "HELP WANTED: The IT Workforce Gap at the Dawn of a New Century. Its major message is first, the problem and the scare, followed by selected graphs, charts and unsupported biased statements that our representatives cannot analyze, and then their solution by academia, government and industry,

The American Engineering Association has made an effort to get at the truth and performed an analysis of the ITAA paper and prepared a critique. Meanwhile, the government’s Department of Commerce involvement includes setting up a "Worker Shortage Convocation" that is scheduled for January with a conclusive "SHORTAGE" title. The DOC’s Office of Technology Policy (OOTP) has also released its own paper entitled "America’s New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers". This new DOC - OOTP shortage paper introduces their shortage myth, instills the fear of America’s failure and lost business opportunities, again burdens the reader with charts, figures and innuendo, quotes other reports such as the ITAA paper, and tells you how academia, government and industry people will solve the problem

. "SHORTAGE, SHORTAGE, SHORTAGE" are the words they always use in every title and effort. These words ring


(Shortage Propaganda continued)

out in every press release or quote when addressing the issue and their fabrication. It’s like a nasty tune you can’t turn off. And, although you may not like it, the repetition is so blatant you can’t help beginning to hum a few bars. If not careful an uninformed person could almost begin to believe it. Industry people believe it. This is the third time since 1983 academia has pulled off this shortage scam with industry support. It got billions of dollars for our college empire. It increases the size of government’s bureaucracy. And, it has not solved industries, so called "shortage" problem. Obviously the problem must be elsewhere, and it is.

Senate Bill S.798, dated May 22, 1997, introduced by Senator John Warner of Virginia is cited as the "Information Technology Worker Shortage Commission Act" that establishes an "Information Technology Worker Shortage Commission." This Bill appoints Commission members from Government, Educators and Business and excludes all others. Its Internet loc. is and is too disgusting to mention here. Self-serving Commission Members and their entities will benefit from this at the expense of the public. This is only the beginning legislation to appropriate funding for the colleges to produce more engineers and scientists.

Actually, academia only needs our children and foreign students to act as the catalyst necessary to transfer the dollars from the taxpayer’s pocket to the pockets of the universities. That’s where the journey of the dollar ends. There is only one winner here - academia. Does it really matter if our kids don’t get the promised engineering jobs they study for?

The latest information about governments’ role is their formation of a "Worker Shortage Convocation" scheduled for January of 1998. Again, note the persuading use of the "S" word in the title. The DOC press release states: "The Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Department of Education, the Information Technology Association of America, and the University of California - Berkeley, has formed six task forces which bring together leaders in industry, government, and academia to address the different issues involved in this worker shortage." These are DOC’s words, not mine. Note the conclusion is fixed. If you’re an engineer or IT, programmer, etc., your career is placed in jeopardy by your own government.

AEA’s Manpower Committee chairman, Bob Rivers, reports the ITAA-DOC convocation task force names and leaders are as follows: 1. Basic Math and Science Competencies, Dr. Shoumen Data Director of Development, San Francisco Unified School District, 2. Image of the IT professional, Paul F. Cole, Vice President, American Federation of Teachers, 3. Quality and Productivity Issues, Dr. Howard Rubin, Hunter College, 4. Recruitment of Underrepresented Groups, Leader: April Young, Ph.D. Executive Director Potomic Knowledgeway Project, 5. Responsiveness of Industry and Higher Education to Each Others Needs, Dr. Richard Skinner, Pres., Clayton College and State University 6. Skill Upgrading of the Current Workforce, Kathy Walsh, IBM. Latest score is Academia 5, Industry 1, Engineers 0. Representatives from the AEA were blocked from participation in two of the teleconferences (on the basis of content) when they indicated that "There is no IT worker shortage."

Did you ever see such a disgusting and obvious display of arrogance from these self-selected individuals in presuming they can even begin to understand the engineering manpower issue? And, since they are not involved in the industry/manpower issue how can they even pretend to be able to suggest solutions? Their task force topics are even further removed from addressing the shortage myth, yet only people from academia, government and industry have been selected to serve. But note, mostly from academia. Even the American Federation of Teachers is represented here but not one engineer will be heard. What do these people know about engineering? This is a problem producing group and not a problem solving one. They are problem perpetuators repeating their shortage propagandizing activities of 1983 and 1989.


AEA’s Efforts

Rivers and his AEA, Manpower Committee have critiqued the ITAA paper and state: "The report by the ITAA in no way provides any credible evidence that engineers, scientists or information technologists are in short supply or that the Federal government should take any action other than to permit the free market to act. Above all, Congress should not increase immigration or continue funding the universities to increase degree production."

"The ITAA report is so defective in its selection and analysis of survey questions as to make it inconceivable that it can be taken seriously."

"All government and congressional activities such as S798 and the upcoming DOC conference on IT worker issues should be scrapped. All employer efforts to interfere with the IT and Engineer labor markets should cease. Instead, non- manipulated market forces should control IT worker supply and demand."

World War II lasted less than five years. During that period, with hundreds of thousands of men and women in the military, the U.S. faced the greatest manpower shortage ever. Still, with what appeared to be an unskilled work force the American people out produced and out designed all other allies and brought the end to the war in just under five years. And, it didn’t take four years of college or the importation of large numbers of foreign engineers to get the job done.

AEA’s evaluation of the DOC - OOTP paper states it is similar to the ITAA paper and it should be since much of the DOC material comes from the ITAA paper. AEA’s response to the DOC’s report, "America's New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers," which claims a software labor shortage, said "...and in fact DOC's write-up was for the most part a warmed-over version of ITAA's earlier report."

AEA’s critique was approved for release by AEA’s president, Bill Reed on November 8, 1997. AEA’s Manpower Committee member, Dr. Norm Matlof, who prepared much of the critique and expressed AEA’s concern wrote; "I consider it to be highly irresponsible and inaccurate, and sad to say reminiscent of the National Science Foundation report in the late 1980s which forecast a severe shortage of Ph.D.'s in science, only to admit now that there is a glut of such people. The report is a "rush to judgment," published at the demand of an industry trade group with obvious heavy financial interests in having an ever-expanding glut of computer programmers."

. In referring to a very serious error of omission regarding a 40% explosion in the enrollment in university computer science majors in 1996, (information given to ITAA by the Computing Research Association), ITAA failed to include this data in their final report, and has not mentioned it in their numerous press interviews. This is an extremely dishonest, almost criminal, suppression of information on ITAA's part. Many in the DOC are still supporting this shortage fabrication.

AEA objects to the title of the report, in that it takes for granted the existence of a shortage, based only on misleading information by an industry trade group which has financial interests in having a glut of programmers

AEA objects to the DOC "Worker Shortage Convocation" for the obvious reason that the convocation includes the conclusive "S" word in its title and because it is based on reports by the ITAA and DOC that have very little value and fact. We object to the selection of leaders and task force


(Shortage Propaganda continued)

subjects of the convocation. We object to any legislation developed to support the DOC shortage effort, which is based on the distortions, provided by the ITAA and DOC. And, AEA objects to government funding this effort and convocation.

(Shortage Propaganda continued) Our goal is to overcome any problems with industry/engineer relationships and enhance the engineering profession and U.S. engineering capabilities. We do not believe the ITAA, academia, industry or the government are here to help.

According to the Deutsch, Shea & Evans (D,S & E) High Tech Recruiting Index (HTRI) and the analysis by Rivers, the curve shows less than 16% of the 30 year time period from 1960 to 1990 when there was room for new engineers without displacing older engineers. The rest of the 30 years or 84% of the time, there was room for new engineers only if older engineers were displaced. Twenty five percent (25%) of the period there was no room for new engineers and older engineers were still being displaced. The D, S & E (HTRI) is a demand study by counting advertisements for 4 year technical degreed personnel. Doesn't this show the shortage farce? How many degrees were produced during the past forty years and where are they now? If we have shortages, where are all of those 50 plus year old engineers with their wealth of knowledge? We know they exist because Human Resource people say they’re all over qualified.

Even before the floodgates of scientist and engineer (S&E) immigration were opened with the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT - 90), the educational system was producing huge gluts. Factor in the massive S&E job cuts since 1986, and the career situation for S&Es is extremely precarious. Age discrimination against both U.S. born and foreign national S&E is only one outcome of the academic/employer/government - created situation. We conclude that academia, government and industry management have excessive and detrimental control over the supply of engineers and scientists in the United States. This small minority derives economic benefit at the expense of the taxpayer and our youth and older experienced engineers. Money wasted on this fabrication increases the cost of doing business in the U.S. and hurts our competitive position in the world market. More important is the young engineering graduate who can’t get an engineering job while the parents criticize him of her with a display of phony engineer shortage headlines.

Engineers, Immigrant, naturalized or native-born American are all members of the same American Engineering Community. Engineering Shortage Propaganda and maintaining an over supply of engineers is detrimental to the profession and all engineers regardless of heritage, sex, race and nationality. A manpower surplus deprives American engineers of the opportunity to practice their profession and enhance their engineering and programming skills and reduces their value to themselves and their employer. A manpower balance will promote better utilization of engineers and will provide opportunities and skill enhancement and improve U.S. engineering capabilities.

Based on one paper and biased information our government has once more inflated a shortage myth into a national emergency. Anything based on and supported by fabrications cannot solve problems; in fact it usually produces more problems than it solves. In conclusion, I believe this DOC - DOE convocation and government supported effort is detrimental to the engineering profession, our industries and the general public. Roughly speaking: If we always do what we always did, we will always get what we always got.

The American Engineering Association has no federal funding to help us fight academic and government induced problems. Like David versus Goliath, we have to take on the Department of Commerce, Department of Education and the National Science Foundation (all three are government agencies funded by tax payers dollars) with a hand full of volunteers on AEA’s Manpower Committee. Thanks to Bob Rivers and his Manpower Committee this is being done.



NOTE: AEA did finally manage to get two representatives on the Convocation panel and get the word "Shortage" removed from the title of the convocation. The issues remain and it is going to be a tough fight to protect our children and profession from these Shortage Shouters.



An article titled, "Why Pursuing a Ph.D. Is a Risky Business," by Jules B. LaPidus, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, on page A60 of the Nov. 14, 1997 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, addressed the charges that many unsuspecting people were suckered into pursuing Ph.D's by false predictions of future shortages. At first, this article, in a blame-the-victim strategy, asserted that the perception of a poor job market for Ph.D.s (technical Ph.D.s as well as non-technical Ph.D.s) was perhaps the result of an inordinate desire of Ph.D.'s for "tenure-track positions at research universities":

"Although data from the National Science Foundation and other sources indicate that the actual unemployment rate of Ph.D's in the sciences, engineering, and humanities may be less than 2 per cent, surveys by some professional indicate that many Ph.D's are having difficulty in finding the jobs they want, particularly if they want tenure-track positions at research universities."

Later, however, this same article admits that the cause of the problem for technical Ph.D's, at least, is a bad job market for Ph.D's in industry as well as academe:

"Although concern about the academic job market in the arts, humanities, and social sciences has been prevalent for years, public attention rose dramatically in the mid-1990s, when, for the first time since the early 1970s, newly graduated scientists and engineers also began to encounter difficulties finding research-related jobs, in industry as well as academe ...... In fields such as chemistry and engineering, most Ph.D.s traditionally have gone into industry."

If anything, technical Ph.D.'s have been hurt more than non-technical Ph.D.'s by the poor job market for Ph.D.'s in industry, because technical Ph.D.'s are more dependent on that job market for suitable research jobs.

The article also gave some of the real reasons for the Ph.D. glut, and discussed the folly of attempts to predict shortages:

"A number of critics have been shocked and amazed to learn that the state of the job market does not play a greater role in influencing departments' decisions about how many doctoral students to admit. In part, this is because attempts to predict job openings five or more years into the future have failed dismally. The world we live in is characterized not by stability, but rather by rapid and unpredictable change -- social, political, economic, scientific, and technological. In the late 1980s, some of the most respected observers of higher education predicted high demand for faculty members and for scientists and engineers by the mid- to late 1990s. Things didn't turn out that way. The demise of the Soviet Union, the decision not to proceed with the superconducting supercollider, the economic recession in the early 1990s, and a variety of other factors led to constrictions of the traditional job markets (academe, industry) for Ph.D.'s."

L.F. from LA

Manpower Fluctuations Give Engineers Grief

The instability of the engineering profession is graphically represented by the Deutsch, Shea and Evans - High Technology Recruitment Index (HTRI) shown below. Every engineer of person considering engineering as a career should be familiar with this index and the dramatic fluctuations in the demand for engineers.

The HTRI is a national indicator of technical manpower demand and based on a monthly count of recruitment ads directed to four-year or more degreed engineers and scientists. D, S & E is a national recruitment advertising agency that has been conducting research on employment, recruiting and other aspects of human resources since 1950. They have maintained the Index for 30 years.

We have included two additional reference lines and the associated comments from studies by Robert Rivers. Rivers is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a past member of their Board of Directors and a member of IEEE's Manpower committee. Rivers is also the chairman of the Manpower committee of the American Engineering Association, Inc. and publishes his own "Engineering Manpower Newsletter."

Comments by Rivers highlight the periods of economic insecurity (unemployment) whenever the Index is below the 130-reference line. The curve also shows periods when our young engineering graduates were not able to find engineering jobs because the demand was depressed. Many were never able to enter the profession for which they studied so hard.

The curve shows less than 16% of the 30-year period from 1960 to 1990 when there was room for new engineers without displacing older engineers or a manpower balance. The rest of the 30 years or 84% of the time, there was room for new engineers only if older engineers were displaced or a surplus prevailed. Twenty five percent (25%) of the time there was no room for new engineers and older engineers were still being displaced or a large surplus existed. The manpower unbalance


is derived from reduced demand, recruiting foreign students by the U.S. engineering schools, excessive degree production and the importation of foreign engineers. The excessive supply has been produced by congress dumping money into the colleges for engineering degree production and the passage of Bills that increase immigration for high tech people. This has been and is promoted by Engineer Shortage Propaganda (ESP), erroneous mathematical models that only show manpower shortages and biased reports. Short peak demand periods cannot be used exclusively in measuring manpower needs. One must consider career employment over a 40-year lifetime. Maintaining an excessive manpower surplus is expensive, wasteful and detrimental to the profession and U.S. engineering capabilities. Maintaining a surplus with imported engineers has a severe and detrimental effect on job opportunities that provide skill enhancement for members of the U.S. engineering community

There are good reasons for addressing the issue of fluctuating engineering manpower demand. First, this effects the lives and careers of all engineers, recent graduates and students that may choose engineering as their field of study. Second, this indicates that the engineer shortage reports were false and the shortage shouters were wrong. Third, this indicates budgets can be shifted from producing a surplus of engineers to maintaining a fully utilized and productive engineering community and creating a manpower balance.

The D, S & E, Index sheds light on the employment situation. Unemployed engineers and engineering graduates that cannot find engineering jobs may find some comfort in the assurance that they are unemployed for reasons beyond their control. They are facing these difficulties, not because they are bad engineers or poor students, but because there is a drastic manpower surplus created through deception by members of the U.S. government and the college empire.

Richard F. Tax, V.P. American Engineering Association, Inc




Insert D. S & E curve here


From "Engineering Manpower Newsletter" reprinted with permission. Vol. 10, No. 1. Jan. 1998, (c) Robert A. Rivers, PO Box 98, Orange, MA 01364 Tel. 978-544-3942, Fax 978-544-9902, e-mail


On January 12th, Virginia Tech and the Information Technology Association of America, (ITAA) reported by an executive briefing on a survey of Information Technology, (IT) companies and non-IT companies. The feature of the survey was the estimated numbers of IT employees and vacancies in the three core occupational clusters of programmers, systems analysts and computer scientists/engineers. The report showed that there was a total of 3,354,000 core IT employees and 346,000 job vacancies.

The ITAA-VT report occupation of programmers showed a population in the U.S. of 1,877,000 employed and 188,000 job vacancies. I went back to my BLS-CPS data for programmer employment and found that the very latest fourth quarter 1997 data was 666,000 employed. The ITAA-VT data was collected from Nov. 12 to Dec. 17th 1997 in the fourth quarter. The ITAA-VT population of programmers was 282% percent of the BLS population of programmers. The BLS programmer population had varied between 594,000 in 1990, 546,000 in 1991 and 561,000 in 1996. 1997 had shown higher levels of employment such as 605,000 and 626,000 respectively in the second and third quarters. At no time since 1983 has the programmer population exceeded the last quarter 1997 level of 666,000. I was forced to conclude that there is something seriously wrong with their data.

What could be wrong? It can't possibly be an undercount by the BLS. They have been using the same definition of what the employees actually do as the classification criteria. Their results are relatively stable over the years. The ITAA-VT survey data for the employment has been shown to be +/-(9-15)% for their actual response at the 90% confidence level. It is assumed that the ITAA-VT survey respondents didn't on average misclassify the employee actual occupations. There are two possible conclusions. One of the possibilities is that there has been an error in the factor to be used in converting from the actual responses to the universe


total. The other is that for some reason the survey populations are biased. In either of the last two cases, the error would probably propagate to the extension of the vacancy data as well as to the number of employees. In the event the error propagated to the vacancy data, it would be reduced from 1,877,000 to 668,000 and subtracting 1,209,000 from the programmer employment and the total employment. I leave it to the ITAA and VT to rationalize their results.

To preclude the argument that it is just a shift of individuals from the total Computer Science and the Systems Analysts categories, that total is already near, (+16.5%) the upper limit of the 90% confidence level. The ITAA-VT total populations of the above is 1,477,000. That already exceeds the BLS fourth quarter 1997 employed population of 1,268,000 for the combined computer scientists and systems analysts. If the same factor error occurs here, the 158,000 total vacancies would be reduced to 136,000 for a 22,000 reduction in total vacancies. The adjusted programmer vacancies would be 67,000 for a grand total of vacancies adjusted to 203,000. While the vacancy rate is high even after adjustment, it in itself does not indicate a shortage. It was expressed by a BLS official quite directly "VACANCIES ARE NOT SHORTAGES". Yet, ITAA officials continued to call them shortages. Vacancies are a symptom of a disease. It is the disease that is important to determine in order to take action. If VT had taken up our offer to assist in designing the survey, the results might have been to find the core problems that cause the high vacancy rate.

The convocation in Berkeley at which the survey was reported did have very useful outputs from the various task forces directed at solving the supply problem. One of the most useful sets of recommendations was the training and retraining of large numbers of talented, educated and underrepresented females, minorities, mid-career and older workers to fill the real increasing need for core IT employees by the IT and non-IT industries.


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Hon. Tom Vandergriff, Former Member of Congress

Jerome M. Zeifman, Former General Counsel

House Judiciary Committee

Johnny W. Richards, ll, Attorney and Counselor at Law

Tommy Grant, President, Grant Fasteners

Ms. Nell E. Mac Cracken, Consultant

Norman G. Cornish, Past President,

National Council Industrial Defense


Bill E. Reed, President

Richard F. Tax, Vice President, Editor

Robert Bruce, Editor, Retired

Ron Graziano, Editor Readers Voice

Dr. David C. Lewis, Immigration

Robert A. Rivers, Manpower