Plenty of jobs, if you've got the right skills

Evening News - Help Wanted Series

NEW YORK - With unemployment so high-- here's something you don't hear often: there are plenty of jobs out there for workers with the right skills - engineers, for example. Yesterday, President Obama called on the country to train 10,000 new engineers every year.

One of America's top executives tells CBS News senior business correspondent Anthony Mason it'll take a lot more than that to make America competitive.

At Dow Chemical's sprawling headquarters in Midland, Michigan, CEO Andrew Liveris's company is working on innovative technologies like solar shingles

But Liveris, whose company employs 24,000 people in the U.S. alone, says he can't get enough good workers here.

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"The starting salary of a chemical engineer is $85,000," he said. "And I can't get chemical engineers."

It's a problem all of American industry is facing:

"We have one million science, technology, engineering and math jobs available in this country right now. And only 200,000 graduates qualified to fill them," Liveris said. "That's scary."

Scary, because this is what we're up against: India's high tech giant, Infosys built a $120 million campus to train an army of 14,000 engineers every year for just that one company.

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Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan said, "Manpower training is extremely important for this industry, because technology is constantly changing."

To compete in this global market, Dow's CEO says he has to go where the talent is.

"I'm opening up R&D labs in China, in Brazil, in eastern Europe in India, to get those jobs," Liveris said. "At the end of the day, my only source of competitive advantage is human capital."

All this is important because scientists and engineers lead innovation. And it's innovation that, in turn, creates jobs.

Liveris and others argue that we need a national education standard that promotes math, science and engineering. That, in effect, we need to find a way to make those careers seem glamorous again to young people.

  • Anthony Mason
    Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"