Saturday, October 24, 2009

Outsourcing and engineering degrees

Duke University (PDF link) has a report on outsourcing. The main message is that production of engineering degrees in China and India are not as high as some statistics suggest, and that in fact US produces more 4-year engineering degrees than India, and outpaces both India and China on per capita basis.Number of Bachelors Degrees: 137,437 in the U.S.; 112,000 in India; 351,537 in China. They note further that one third of research production, measured in things such as academic papers, patents, etc. is in the United States. We still lead the world, despite signs of rise in India and China. What we are outsourcing tends to be the 'transactional engineering' that is of lower value-added and not the dynamic and innovative stuff.

Quality is more important than quality (PDF):
According to a 2005 McKinsey and Company Global Institute labor study, only about 10 percent of China’s engineers, and 25 percent of India’s, can compete in the global market. That report found that a higher percentage of engineers in low-wage nations like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Malaysia, than in China and India, are competitive in the global job market.
Can we relax then? Not really. Doing better than China on a per capita basis is hardly cause for celebration. Would we accept a standard of living just a bit above China's level?

Here is the real problem - Most American College degrees do not match the work anymore:
"I hate to say we don't have the world's best universities. We may have the best minds, the best liberal arts education. The problem is it doesn't match the work anymore." (That is to say, not enough students are getting science and math degrees.)

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