Myths and Motives Behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative

  • Heidi Stevenson


Inductive analysis of the Rising Above the Gathering Storm testimony by Norman Augustine (2005) informed this study of the STEM-worker shortage narrative and its impact on education, by placing it in the context of neoliberalism. The major precepts of the dominant STEM shortage narrative are: 1) there are not enough STEM workers to fill available positions and 2) that the STEM shortage exists because of inadequate US public education that does not produce a sufficient number of STEM-qualified graduates. This paper presents the history of the STEM-shortage narrative and provides evidence from leading STEM labor experts that there is indeed a STEM-worker surplus, not shortage. This manufactured US STEM-worker shortage narrative is fueled by fear of failing in the global economy, and prevails so that US businesses have a rationale to hire cheaper foreign workers on H-1B visas. These results are discussed in regard to STEM K-12 and teacher education.