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Is there a Shortage of Academic Degree Holders in Science and Technology?

This research extends a previous study by the authors on "The Role of Research Universities in the Israeli R&D System" by examining the possibility of a growing shortage in recipients of academic degrees in science and technology (S&T).

Contrary to the common view, we conclude that there currently is no overall shortage in the number of S&T degree recipients. This conclusion is based on two main arguments. Some 10,000 receive a first degree in S&T each year, in addition to some 4,000 who receive graduate degrees. Such annual numbers constitute about 10% of the academic S&T occupations in the Israeli workforce, more than the natural attrition and retirement rates from such occupations, including scientists and engineers who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in the 90's. The second argument hinges on the development of real salaries of S&T academic degree holders, using income and employer costs surveys of the Israeli CBS. While significantly higher than salaries in non-S&T occupations, S&T real salaries have not grown faster than average salaries in the business sector over the last 15 years. An acute shortage in S&T academic workers would have exerted pressure to increase their salaries, a pressure that cannot be discerned in the data. 

There are indications that shortages do exist in some subfields, such as computer hardware and software development, while surpluses exist in other scientific occupations. Such imbalances are inevitable in a world with rapidly changing technologies.