Science and Engineering Manpower Forecasting:

Its Use in Policymaking

PSAD-79-75: Published: Jun 27, 1979. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 1979.

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Congress declared the manpower pool of scientists, engineers, and technicians an invaluable national resource to be as fully utilized as possible. The federal government influences the supply and utilization of scientists and engineers through actions such as grants, contracts, federal employment, and government policies and regulations affecting the national economy.

Government programs and policies have greatly influenced the boom and bust cycles of the science and engineering labor market occurring over the past several decades. Forecasts of projected needs and utilization of scientists and engineers, and the effects of federal actions on the labor market are useful tools in formulating policy. Although the government's influence on this labor market is great, its predictions of the future and the marketplace performance are imprecise. Therefore, it is desirable that a focal point in the executive branch establish clearly defined long-term goals, make analyses of the potential benefits and risks of alternative policies, decide whether or not federal action is warranted, and evaluate scenarios of possible outcomes of alternative plans. A current scientific manpower issue is the perceived shortage of job opportunities for young scientists aspiring to go into research in the nation's universities. Projections for the 1980's show a leveling of college enrollments and a limited number of vacancies for young scientists as new junior faculty, because incumbents are not of a retirement age and hold tenure positions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Directors of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation should; (1) improve the evaluation of the implications of major federal actions for scientists and engineers; (2) assess the seriousness of the scarcity of opportunities for young research scientists; and (3) evaluate and propose federal initiatives as needed.

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