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The Gig Economy: Have We Missed the Trees for the Forest?

student at computerFrom Spend Matters, Andrew Karpie discusses whether the focus on worker classficiation and the gig economy limited the focus on another, more important, aspect of the economy — the lack of skilled employees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Andrew writes:

I am not judging the gig economy itself. I am really asking a question about, and perhaps also judging, “us.” The question is: Have we lost our bearings? Has our attention, the span of which we know is limited, been misdirected away from something much more critical?

I am not talking about the forest or the trees. I am talking about STEM jobs and education.

A National Math and Science Initiative report, “Why Stem Matters” — not to be confused with Why Spend Matters — had some statistics to share on the subject:

  • STEM job creation over the next 10 years will outpace non-STEM jobs significantly, growing 17%, as compared with 9.8% for non-stem positions.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, people in STEM fields can expect to earn 26% more money on average and be less likely to experience job loss.
  • The STEM degree holders also tend to enjoy higher earnings overall, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations.
  • Sixty percent of the new jobs that will open in the 21st century will require skills possessed by only 20% of the current workforce.
  • The U.S. may be short as many as 3 million high-skilled workers by 2018.

You read that right: The U.S. may be short as many as 3 million high-skilled workers by 2018. But it doesn’t appear that we will have a deficit of gig workers.

The report cites a number of other disturbing statistics. For example, “American universities, however, only award about a third of the bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering as Asian universities. Worldwide, the United States ranks 17th in the number of science degrees it awards.”

Read the full story at The Gig Economy: Have We Missed the Trees for the Forest? 

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