The US universities produce enough graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to meet the demand for high-skilled professionals in the country, says a study.
Contradicting the claims of some American companies that the country faces STEM shortage, the study by Washington-based Economic Policy Institute (EPI) said there are more domestic graduates in these fields than the market can accommodate.
"The debate over guest worker programmes is largely based on anecdotal evidence and testimonials from employers, rather than solid evidence," said its key author Hal Salzman of the Rutgers University.
"Our examination shows that the STEM shortage in the United States is largely overblown. Guest worker programmes are in need of reform, but any changes should make sure that guest workers are not lower-paid substitutes for domestic workers," Salzman said.
According to the report, despite a steady supply of US STEM graduates, guest workers make up a large and growing portion of the workforce, specifically in information technology occupations and industries.
"IT employers look to guest worker programmes as a source of labour that is plentiful even at wages that appear to be too low to attract large numbers of the best and brightest domestic students," EPI said in a statement.
The flow of US students (citizens and permanent residents) into STEM fields has been strong over the past decade, and the number of US graduates with STEM majors appears to be responsive to changes in employment levels and wages, it said.
For every two students that US colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job, the report said.
In computer and information science and in engineering, US colleges graduate 50% more students than are hired into those fields each year; of the computer science graduates not entering the IT workforce, 32% say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, and 53% say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations.
These responses suggest that the supply of graduates is substantially larger than the demand for them in industry, EPI said in its report.