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IMMIGRATION REFORM: Retraining vs. Hiring Abroad

Friday, Jun. 28, 2013

Thursday, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill, which among other effects will allow Silicon Valley companies to hire more foreign engineers. Tech firms have long been voicing concerns about the shortage of skilled workers in America, and have lobbied for the ability to import more foreign talent by increasing the cap on H1-B visas. Labor groups have been pushing back by arguing that equally qualified Americans be offered jobs before firms look abroad. They also argue that firms should retrain current employees before looking abroad for the most up-to-date workers. Some studies, such as one published by the Brookings Institution, have found that the presence of high-skilled guest workers does not have a negative impact on the employment levels of college educated-Americans of that area. Do tech firms have an obligation to hire Americans over foreign talent?

  Kirk: I believe companies should commit to some level of retraining. Too many Silicon Valley companies see foreign engineers as the solution to all hiring needs, and even as low-cost temporary labor. At minimum companies ought to be working with academic institutions, including online learning companies, to prepare American engineers for the latest technologies.

  Patrick: Companies should invest in their people, but those people do not necessarily have to be American. While Americans do not have a special claim to jobs at American firms, the rate at which American employees are being left in the dust by new technology is problematic. Firms must embrace that there is a dual responsibility in keeping employees up-to-date: it’s on the firm to offer the opportunity for continued training, and on the employee to take them up on it.

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Joe Schmid said on Jul 8, 2013
Motivated to work; technically savvy, and the ability to communicate ? this is the entry level threshold of employment (fast food server to scientist). The only thing that changes across job functions is the extent to which these three are required. A few facts. There is a continuing decline in U.S. science and tech degrees. Engineering, science and tech curriculums are the most time demanding (measured by average weekly hours of study time/prep time and the hours of study faculty expects). By consensus a ?genius? is a person with a 140 or higher IQ. People with a 140 IQ or higher make up only 2.2% of a population. The genius pool of China and India is an order of magnitude greater than the US - ca. 60 million compared to ca. 7 million in the US. US Companies have longstanding working relationships with academic institutions through grants, chair and capital project funding, to cooperative education and internships. US companies invest heavily in continued training of their people as reported by SHRM surveys. H1-B visas require a U.S. bachelor?s or higher degree in a specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university or foreign equivalent. Many of the H1-B applicants have attained a degree from a US university. The 2014 H1-B cap is 65,000 which is a very small fraction of the entire employment of US engineers and scientists. To compete and fulfill their ethical obligations to their stakeholders (which include employees and communities) companies have to attract, recruit and sustain a critical mass of intelligence embodied in people who are motivated to work; are technically savvy; and can effectively communicate with one another. To a greater extent this cumulative human factor separates the industry winners and the losers. There is a talent supply issue. The alternative is offshore outsourcing which has also risen to the surface of corporate criticism and ethical debate. For years industry leaders and analysts have warned of a critical shortfall of skilled scientists and engineers capable of developing breakthrough technologies. The H1-B visa is available and should be used and expanded to mitigate this shortfall. With current US curriculum enrollments, this issue is not going away. Tech companies need to hire the best and the brightest. It is a global economy and it is a global talent pool. - Like - 1 person likes this.
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