For the United States to remain competitive in a vibrant global innovative and research environment, it must have access to the best minds. Congress and the public need to understand that the nation’s pre-eminence rests on its technological strength which in turn depends entirely on its ability to attract, educate, recruit, and retain the best S&E workers. Assuring that the nation has the number and quality of scientists and engineers is a national imperative upon which the nation’s security and prosperity rests entirely.
In many nations, the central government takes an active part in developing the science and engineering workforce. In the past, the United States has done the same—to secure victory over the Axis powers of World War II, to assure dominance in the arms race of the Cold War, and after Sputnik to win the space race. However, for the last 25 years, the U.S. federal government has left S&E workforce issues entirely to the marketplace.
The time has come again for action. Because building a science and engineering workforce has a long lead time, it requires immediate attention and swift, coordinated action by government, university, and industry.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed within this document are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies.