The reported shortfall of US-born science and engineers in the research can be explained by the inability of traditional research fields to compete against better employment options, according to a recent study by Georgetown University researchers.
Most of it boils down to money. The study found that those with bachelor's degrees in science can earn more than those holding a master's degree in a non-science major, even if the graduates work in non-science fields. However, although salary is a major factor, many science graduates reported choosing non-science fields because they were more socially satisfying than research fields.
The numbers point to the fact that science graduates aren't contributing to traditional science and engineering fields in large enough numbers, possibly because their skill-set is highly prized across industries, including those outside of science. "The technical foundation is worth even more than we thought," the study's lead author Anthony Carnevale told The Chronicle of Higher Education. The report concludes that given the high demand for technically trained graduates across many sectors, the US educational system is still not producing enough graduates in science and engineering to satisfy the demand.