Committee on Science and Technology
Click to view Printer-Friendly formatted page. Printer-Friendly  |  Font Size: A A A

Press Releases :: November 7, 2007

Committee Concludes Series on Offshoring With Look at the Affect of Globalization on the U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce

(Washington, DC) Late yesterday, the Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Technology & Innovation completed the Committee’s series of hearings addressing the offshoring of U.S. science and technical jobs.

“This can sometimes be a heated issue,” said Chairman Wu. “No one wants to think about losing their job, but today’s science and engineering graduates could face an uncertain future. I’m sure we all agree that we must find a way to help our current and future science and engineering workers better understand the challenges and opportunities facing them in the twenty-first century.”

This hearing – the fourth and final in the series – explored the implications of the globalization of research & development (R&D) and innovation for the American science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce.

As a part of their investigation, the Subcommittee examined the impact of high-technology offshoring on American STEM workers and students.

Many analysts believe that globalization will not affect the aggregate number of jobs in the U.S. Rather, they believe it will change the mix of occupations here in the U.S. Certain occupations will experience net losses while others will increase, and the skills demanded will shift.

Some analysts estimate that between 30 and 40 percent of all U.S. jobs will be vulnerable to offshoring. This vulnerability means that a large share of previously non-tradable jobs are now tradable, putting downward pressures on wages for U.S. workers in those occupations.

High-wage jobs, requiring advanced STEM education and skills, are also “offshorable,” and some analysts estimate they are amongst the most vulnerable to offshoring, with computer programming topping the list of all occupations. According to a study conducted by Alan Blinder, director of Princeton University’s Center for Economic Policy Studies – and a previous witness before the Committee – 35 of 39 STEM occupations are offshorable, including 10 of 12 engineering disciplines.

“The problem is that many workers are often surprised by changing job availability, whether those workers are experienced professionals approaching retirement or students contemplating a science or engineering career,” added Wu. “That unpredictability hampers decision making at the individual worker level and at the government level.”

While some analysts do highlight the opportunities created by globalization, offshoring is undoubtedly affecting the pipeline of STEM workers. Undergraduate enrollments in some STEM fields, particularly computer sciences, are down significantly over the past few years in part because students believe these jobs are likely to be lost to overseas competition.

Analysts also believe that globalization may inject greater volatility in the STEM job market and workers need to be prepared to re-tool their skills on an ongoing basis.

Witnesses sought to explain how U.S. workers need to constantly “re-tool” their skills to adapt to the changing marketplace. Witnesses also discussed the new opportunities and challenges created by globalization, including the reshaping the demand for STEM workers and skills; as well as how offshoring is affecting the STEM workforce pipeline and how incumbent workers are responding to globalization.

Witnesses included: Dr. Michael S. Teitelbaum, vice president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Dr. Harold Salzman, senior research associate at the Urban Institute; Dr. Charles McMillion, president and chief economist of MBG Information Services; Mr. Paul J. Kostek, vice president for career activities of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers – USA; and Mr. Henry Becker, president of Qimonda North America.

Previous committee hearings on the topic of offshoring have covered the general concept and trends (June 12); how America’s universities are addressing the challenges of globalization (July 26); and the factors companies use to locate their research & development (R&D) and science, technology, and engineering intensive facilities (October 4).

The Committee will release a report this winter summarizing the findings from these hearings and making policy recommendations to address the challenges and opportunities presented by globalization.



News from the House Science and Technology Committee
2321 Rayburn House Office Building | Washington, DC 20515
tel: (202) 225-6375 | fax: (202) 225-3895 | Contact us Online

Bart Gordon, Chairman


Subcommittee Quick Links
[technology]  [energy]  [oversight]  [research]  [space]

technology and innovation

energy and environment

Investigations and Oversight

research and science education

space and aeronautics

Last Updated