Thursday, May 18, 2006

Skilled Immigrants Needed

Amid all of the debate over how many unskilled laborers are slipping into the United States, one fact has received less publicity: the nation needs more foreign scientists and engineers.

The U.S. remains the favorite destination for internationally mobile students (40 percent in 2004, says Indicators), but their numbers here have recently declined. Science and engineering graduate students with temporary visas slumped 5 percent in 2002 and another 8 percent in 2003. Indicators notes the rise of engineering and science Ph.D.s awarded in China, South Korea, and Japan. And for those who come, fewer choose to stay. The number of foreign students planning to stay in the U.S. decreased in 2002 and 2003 after increasing from 1996 to 2001, says the NSF report.

While the U.S. remains the leader in patent citations, signs are that the rest of the world is catching up. Indicators reveals China spent nearly $85 billion in 2003 for research and development -- a 600 percent increase since 1991 -- ranking them third in the world.

And from 1998 to 2003, articles in science and technology journals from the European Union surpassed the number of U.S. articles, says Indicators. During the same period, science articles from China, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have more than quintupled.

Clinton Parks is on the case.

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