Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The case against STEM

Captain Capitalism argues (correctly) that STEM majors are better investments than liberal arts.  There is a case to be made against STEM, though - STEM stinks for cyber security:
I am getting fed up with the clamor on the part of policy makers for more degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) as the path to success in the United States, especially in cybersecurity. The numbers don’t add up, and the problem of not having enough cybersecurity workers will not be solved in the short term by ramping up four year degree programs in cybersecurity.


Yes, we still need degreed engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. But those degrees and the people who earn them are the promise of the future, not the present.

What we need in every state is a vibrant VoTech education system while simultaneously working to remove the onus from not having a four year degree.
Yup.  I'd go so far as to say that you don't need college at all, but that's if you're self-motivated.
Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame has a lot to say about four year degrees and debt. He founded the mikeroweWORKS Foundation to address these problems. Watch the video in this report.
Here is my prescription for creating a cyber security VoTech, extracted from a proposal I helped put together for the State of Michigan.
“In addition to working with the various certificate organizations we will work with security vendors to teach and award certifications in major security tools. This is the fastest road to creating a work force that will have immediate marketability.”
Notice that phrase: "immediate marketability".  STEM has a better ROI than liberal arts, but a two year certification will have a better ROI than STEM.  And six months of self-study followed by a certification will blow that ROI.

I know that the Captain visits here sometimes.  If he does an update of Worthless, he might want to add a chapter on this.


Scott_S said...

Taking icnd1 week after next. 1 month of self study and some time spent with our LAN/WAN team.

If you have a torrent client you can find training videos on any torrent listing site. However if you find those videos useful consider paying for them.

A monthly subscription to CBT nuggets training videos (full library) runs 99/mo.

Tacitus2 said...

Hereabouts I have started seeing a pitch for STEAM. Yes, it is catchier than STEM but adding "Arts" to the mix does seem to defeat the original intent which is having enough engineers around so that Performance Arts groups don't have to do their thing in theaters with outhouses and lit by candles. Although they might prefer it now that I think of it.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"What we need in every state is a vibrant VoTech education system while simultaneously working to remove the onus from not having a four year degree."

This. A thousand times this.

Of course, then I see this story on Yahoo this morning, advocating exactly the opposite:

"Richard Reeves and Quentin Karpilow of the Brookings Institution wrote recently in favor of compulsory K-16 education, rather than the familiar K-12 requirement. “We need to make post-secondary education the norm for everyone, not just the advantaged,” they wrote. “In today’s economy, a high school diploma is not enough; now, more than ever, college is the gateway to the American Dream.”"