Study Challenges Notion of Talent Shortage

Susan Hall
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Add another voice questioning the oft-cited claim of a tech worker shortage as a reason to allow more H-1B visas.

Despite the intense tech industry lobbying to increase the cap on H-1Bs, the Economic Policy Institute in April released a report that found the United States has “more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations.”

Now a study of 3 million U.S. resumes by a California company called Bright comes to a similar conclusion, reports The New York Times.


It looked at the top 10 positions for which companies seek H-1B workers and found 134 percent more available workers for those jobs than positions available.

However, it said:

“Our extensive research demonstrated that while the H1-B program may be valid for some positions, such as application developers and specialized computer occupations, there are other positions, such as financial analysts or electrical engineers, where the H1-B program may not be required, and is used by hiring companies to save search time or for bulk hiring.”

Bright uses an algorithm that looks at hundreds of features on a resume and instantly scores how well it matches a job description. Its “Bright Score” is a measure of a “good fit” between a resume and a job description.

While it found few “good fits” for computer systems analyst jobs, there were plenty of qualified candidates for high-skilled computer programmers, the Times reports.

Steve Goodman, Bright’s CEO, told the Times that it’s an “uncomfortable” position to take in Silicon Valley.

“We’re Silicon Valley people, we just assumed the shortage was true,” Goodman said. “It turns out there is a little Silicon Valley groupthink going on about this …”

The Times story, though, presents a range of critics of Bright’s methods.

The immigration reform bill passed by the Senate would at least double the number of H-1B visas issued. The original bill included a range of provisions that would require employers to report their efforts to recruit U.S. workers first – requirements that some companies called “an administrative nightmare.” That language was gutted in the final bill.

It’s unclear at this point whether the House will pass any immigration bill – or just let the legislation die.



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