Skip to main content

The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America's Future, + Website

The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America's Future, + Website

Gary J. Beach

ISBN: 978-1-118-47799-1

Jul 2013

336 pages

In Stock



Is a widening “skills gap” in science and math education threatening America’s future? That is the seminal question addressed in The U.S. Technology Skills Gap, a comprehensive 104-year review of math and science education in America. Some claim this “skills gap” is “equivalent to a permanent national recession” while others cite how the gap threatens America’s future economic, workforce employability and national security. 

This much is sure: America’s math and science skills gap is, or should be, an issue of concern for every business and information technology executive in the United States and The U.S Technology Skills Gap is the how-to-get involved guidebook for those executives laying out in a compelling chronologic format: 

  • The history of the science and math skills gap in America
  • Explanation of why decades of astute warnings were ignored
  • Inspiring examples of private company efforts to supplement public education
  • A pragmatic 10-step action plan designed to solve the problem
  • And a tantalizing theory of an obscure Japanese physicist that suggests America’s days as the global scientific leader are numbered

Engaging and indispensable, The U.S. Technology Skills Gap is essential reading for those eager to see America remain a relevant global power in innovation and invention in the years ahead.

CIOs Speak xv

Preface xix

Ac knowledgments xxv

Part One: How Did We Get Here? 1

Chapter 1 1941: The Subject We Love to Hate 3

Math? Not for Me! 4

"Minimize the Effect of Schooling" 5

Young Adults with IQs of Eight-Year-Olds 5

The Fall Continues 6

President Roosevelt Understands Science 7

An Opportunity Lost 8

Americans Still Hate Math and Science 9

Chapter 2 1945: Operation Paperclip 11

Nazis Hailed as "Outstanding" Scientists 11

Germany's Rocket Man 12

The Nazis Get to von Braun 13

Time Magazine Paints a Dim Picture of von Braun 15

America's Best Rocket: The Bazooka 15

Shipped to America 17

America Had Space Technology before the Soviets 17

Germany Developed the Atomic Bomb First 18

Chapter 3 1950: Deming Says 21

Deming Has an Idea 21

The Lecture Series That Changed the Balance of the World Economy 22

Japan Embraces, America Ignores 24

Datsuns Arrive in Los Angeles 25

American Business Leaders Finally Listen 25

Lessons from Deming 26

Can Total Quality Management Fix the American Education System? 27

Chapter 4 1952: Boomerang 29

What It Means to Teach 29

A Teacher Shortage Exacerbates the Educational Challenges 30

Another Problem: Crumbling Infrastructure 31

Media Critiques Begin 32

Back in the USSR 33

Boomers Perform Poorly on SATs 34

Connecting the Dots 35

The Boomerang Theory 36

Chapter 5 1962: Too Hard to Follow 39

The Rationale for the Lunar Landing 40

Kennedy in His Own Words 40

"It's Just So Darn Hard" 41

Students: Math and Science Are Irrelevant 42

Culture Counts 42

Industry Leaders Offer Advice 43

Do Something about It 44

American Students Not Measuring Up 45

The Results, Please 45

How to Do Something 46

High School Seniors: No, Thank You 47

Perception Is Reality: The Importance of the Guidance Counselor 48

The STEM Pipeline Shrinks More in Higher Education 49

Putting Words in the President’s Mouth 51

Chapter 6 1962: Empires of the Mind 53

Did You Know? 53

The Shift Is On 54

The Components of Yuasa’s Phenomenon 55

Fast-Forward 55

Yuasa's Phenomenon Arrives in America in 1920 56

Youth Rules 57

Look to the East? 58

Three Patents to the Win 59

America's Innovation Ecosystem at Risk 60

Does It Work for You? 61

The World in 2050 63

Slip Sliding Away? 63

Survival Is Not Compulsory 64

Chapter 7 1963: SAT Down 67

The History of the SAT 67

Asleep at the Wheel for 14 Years 68

The College Entrance Examination Board Responds 68

More Competition for the SAT 69

Why the SAT Scores Dropped 69

How to Get 100 More SAT Points 71

Too Much Mediocrity 71

Chapter 8 1976: Too Many Chiefs 73

A Tale of Two Documents 73

Keep It Local 74

The Great Society Era Ushers in Federal Involvement 74

ESEA: Not All Things Considered 75

Teacher Unions Create the U.S. Department of Education 75

Did I Really Promise That ? 76

President Carter's Top 10 List 76

Eight Years Is Too Short 77

Reagan Shifts from Compliance to Competency 78

Bush Sets Voluntary Education Goals 78

Other Issues Get in the Way 79

Clinton Unsuccessfully Shifts Education Goals from Voluntary to Compulsory 79

No Child Left Behind Ushers in Compulsory Education Compliance 80

Obama Is Stymied by Gridlocked Washington 80

Close Down the U.S. Department of Education 81

Part Two: And the Hits Just Keep on Coming 83

Can You Hear Me Now? 84

Road Trip 84

The Eighth-Grade Focus 84

Connect the Dots 85

It Takes a Village That Cares 85

The Warning System Works 86

Chapter 9 The Skills Gap Warnings Begin 87

1964: The First International Mathematics Study 87

1971: The First International Science Study 87

1971: The National Education Trust Fund 88

1978: The Nation’s Report Card 89

1982: The Second International Mathematics Study 90

1983: A Nation at Risk 91

1985: Global Competition: The New Reality 98

1985: Corporate Classrooms: The Learning Business 99

1986: A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century 100

1987: Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the Twenty-first Century 101

1987: The National Science Foundation Annual Report Introduces STEM 102

1987: The Fourth R: Workforce Readiness, a Guide to Business Education Partnerships 103

1989: Winning the Brain Race: A Bold Plan to Make Our Schools Competitive 105

Chapter 10 The Skills Gap Emerges 111

1990: America's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages! 111

1990: The Second International Science Study 113

1990: The National Assessment of Educational Progress 113

1993: John Sculley: "America Is Resource Poor" 114

1995: The Third International Mathematics and Science Study 115

Different Measurement, Improved Ranking 116

1996: The National Assessment of Educational Progress 117

1999: New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century 118

Chapter 11 The Skills Gap Widens 121

2000: Ensuring a Strong U.S. Scientific, Technical, and Engineering Workforce in the 21st Century 121

2000: Before It’s Too Late 123

2000: The Programme for International Student Assessment 125

2000: The National Assessment of Educational Progress Test 128

2002: Unraveling the Teacher Shortage Problem: Teacher Retention Is the Key 129

2003: Building a Nation of Learners 131

2004: Sustaining the Nation's Innovation Ecosystem 132

2005: Losing the Competitive Advantage: The Challenge for Science and Technology in America 134

2005: The Knowledge Economy: Is the United States Losing Its Competitive Edge? 135

2005: The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century 137

2005: Rising above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future 138

2005: The National Assessment of Educational Progress 141

2006: Teachers and the Uncertain American Future 142

2006: The Quiet Crisis: Falling Short in Producing American Scientific and Technical Talent 143

2007: We Are Still Losing Our Competitive Advantage: Now Is the Time to Act 144

2007: How the World’s Best?]Performing School Systems Come Out on Top 146

2007: Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand 149

2007: Tough Choices or Tough Times 151

2007: The Role of Education Quality in Economic Growth 153

2008: Foundations for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel 156

2008: "Lessons from 40 Years of Education Reform" 157

2009: Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant: Asian Nations Set to Dominate the Clean Energy Race by Out-Investing the United States 159

2009: The CIO Executive Council’s Youth and Technology Careers Survey 160

2009: The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools 162

2009: The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness 163

2009: Steady As She Goes? Three Generations of Students through the Science and Engineering Pipeline 165

Chapter 12 The Consequences of the Skills Gap Become Apparent 171

2010: Rising above the Gathering Storm Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 171

2010: Why So Few Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics? 172

2010: Waiting for Superman 175

2010: Education Next’s Public Perception of Education Survey 175

2010: Interview with Craig Barrett 178

2010: Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top-Third Graduates to Careers in Teaching 179

2011: The National Assessment of Educational Progress 181

2011: The Intel Corporation's Survey of Teens' Perceptions of Engineering 182

2011: Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete? 183

2012: How Well Are American Students Learning? 184

2012: U.S. Education Reform and National Security 186

2012: Prosperity at Risk: Findings of Harvard Business School's Survey on U.S. Competitiveness 187

2012: The World Economic Forum's Annual Global Competitiveness Report 189

2012: Where Will All the STEM Talent Come From? 191

2012: SAT and ACT Scores Reveal Disappointing News 193

2012: Five Misconceptions about Teaching Math and Science: American Education Has Not Declined, and Other Surprising Truths 195

The Long and Winding Road 197

Part Three: Let's Build Some Arks 201

Chapter 13 Patchworking the Tech Skills Gap Begins 203

1965: Skills USA 203

1968: The Xerox Science Consultant Program 204

1989: Women in Technology International 206

1990: Teach for America 208

1994: Tech Corps 209

1995: NetDay 212

1996: SAS Curriculum Pathways 213

1997: The Cisco Networking Academy 215

1998: I.C.Stars 216

1998: Intel Teach 219

Chapter 14 The Pace of Remediation Work on the National Skills Gap Accelerates 223

2000: Year Up 223

2000: The Juniper Networks Foundation Fund 225

2002: Technology Goddesses 227

2002: nPower 229

2003: The Microsoft Imagine Cup 230

2004: Engineering Is Elementary 231

2004: The Junior FIRST Lego League 232

2005: Raytheon's MathMovesU 234

2005: IBM's Transition to Teaching 235

2006: The Khan Academy 237

2006: Cognizant's Maker Faire 239

2007: The National Math and Science Initiative 240

2008: AT&T Aspire 241

2008: AMD's Changing the Game 244

2009: Microsoft’s TEALS 245

2009: The Foundation 249

2009: DIGITS 249

2009: Change the Equation 250

Chapter 15 The Pace of Ark Building Quickens 255

2010: The Broadcom MASTERS 255

2011: CA Technologies and the Sesame Workshop 257

2011: IBM's P-TECH 258

2012: Udacity 261

2012: CA Technologies: Tech Girls Rock 262

2012: Microsoft's 264

2012: The Dell Education Challenge 265

2012: The Girl Scouts of America's Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math 266

News Alert: More Arks Needed! 269

Epilogue For What It's Worth 273

Top Ten Recommendations for Action 276

Closing Time 289

About the Author 293

About the Website 295

Index 297

“America has a rich tradition of making things. The increasing technical sophistication of the world, combined with historically low numbers of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates at best fails to honor that history. And, at worst, threatens to severely limit America’s future.”Ralph Loura, Chief Information Officer, The Clorox Company

“In the past few years I have hired many deeply technical people. The vast majority of resumes for my most technical jobs come from graduates of colleges in India and China. It is clear to me that we are not preparing American students with the skills that high tech employers deem necessary.”—John Halamka, Chief Information Officer, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Professor, Harvard Medical School

“When I talk to high school and college students I find the connection of skills learned in math and science to skills used in work, and in life, is missing.  Educators need to make this connection – how does a lab in science relate to work and life? How does calculus relate? These lack of connections are a serious gap in our education system.”Nancy Newkirk, Chief Information Officer, International Data Group

 “Information technology plays a pervasive and critical role in driving business capabilities and enabling corporate strategies. In order for American industry to sustain its renowned capacity to innovate, it must have a workforce equipped to develop and apply future generations of advanced information technologies.”James Nanton, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Hanesbrands, Inc.

“The American educational system has lost touch with the reality of providing people with the practical skills and competencies required for young professionals to add meaningful value to our corporations. America needs to rethink how we prepare young people to have meaningful careers that are both financially and intellectually rewarding.”Larry Bonfante, Chief Information Officer, The United States Tennis Association

“One of the most difficult roles I have as a chief information officer is finding and recruiting talent. In a growing business, with average turnover rates, I run at a constant talent deficit because I cannot find people with the skills I need to the job openings I have. If the American education system cannot produce a work force with the appropriate skills then these jobs will be filled by global providers. The need to focus on creating career-ready individuals is not an educational imperative. It is an economic imperative.”Gary King, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Chico’s,Inc.

“The K-12 years are critical foundational years that “plant the seed” for a desire to learn, to teach vital study and research habits, to develop skill sets and to discover areas of interest and proclivity.  These are pivotal years that work to shape the “whole” person. The K-12 educational phase is also the ideal period to generate interest, desire and passion for technology. Sadly, more and more of our underserved demographic groups are participating as “consumers” of technology, versus “developers” or “innovators” of such.”Gina C.Tomlinson, Chief Technology Officer, City and County of San Francisco

“I became astutely aware that America had a problem communicating and getting children interested in technology based on an experience I had with my middle school-aged daughter who told me one day, ‘Dad, I am terrible in technology’. The first thing I told her, partly kiddingly, was not to say that in public too loudly, as that would not look good for Dad since his job is heading a technology group!  But it illustrated a problem our country has: most children are not being exposed to the possibilities of technology and how the field could be interesting, challenging and great job opportunities for them and that they should not have any fears about being able to utilize technology in many ways since they already use it far more than they comprehend.”Michael Gabriel, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Home Box Office

“The historical position of the United States as a global technology innovator has brought us prosperity and growth. These will dry up quickly, however, if our country does not produce a steady supply of thought leaders who are able to compete in the global technology marketplace. As our world shifts more and more from atoms to bits as the currency of economic growth, America will be left behind if we are not able to compete as global innovators.  As a result, we will soon find ourselves handing our global economic leadership over to a new set of leaders, and along with it, our ability to determine our own future and control of our own destiny. The United States must make profound, wholesale changes to our education system in a way that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and encourages and motivates students to excel in these critical areas. If we fail to do so, we will lose our global competitiveness.”Steve Mills, Chief Information Officer, Rackspace Hosting Inc.

“‘Survival of the fittest’ has shaped the evolution of our species for hundreds, thousands, even millions of years. In the 21st century business context, the fittest are those with the ability to think critically, solve problems, innovate and collaborate effectively with one another. If we fail to equip our children with these skills through significant enhancements to our education systems, how will they ever survive.”Bill Schlough, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, San Francisco Giants