By any interpretation of recent numbers, the U.S. has a considerable challenge with its engineering workforce. The latest data show that engineering degrees as a share of total first university degrees were a meager 4.4 percent. While the industry-led growth of developing economies such as China and Korea would naturally give rise to a higher share of engineering graduates than in the U.S. and other rich nations, the U.S. engineering graduate share is markedly behind Japan at 17.1 percent and Germany at 12.4 percent.
Even Canada and the UK, whose manufacturing sectors have significant competitive challenges, have higher shares of first university degrees in engineering than the United States. We must bridge this gap or risk declining competitiveness in both disruptive and incremental product innovation.