Increasing H-1B Visas Is Only a Short-Term Fix to IT Shortages

Ann All

The latest report from technology association AeA appears to confirm that while there is good news about the IT market -- with IT employment growing 2.6 percent in 2006 -- bad news may not be far behind.

 

According to AeA, unemployment for computer scientists and electrical engineers is practically nonexistent (2.5 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively).

 

This would be a good thing if there were lots of aspiring scientists and engineers coming up through the ranks. But has been widely reported, this is not the case. "Our own kids are not going into math and science, and we can't hire foreigners like we did for the 50 years before 2001. This could be a disaster," says AeA's president and CEO.

 

Not coincidentally, the AeA is lobbying for more H-1B visas, which allow U.S. companies to employ foreign workers. The AeA is also promoting the idea of emphasizing math and science education in U.S. schools.

 

We like an approach advocated by eWEEK columnist Eric Lundquist, which adds a much-needed long view to the short-term H-1B solution. Lundquist proposes that every U.S. company that employs H-1B workers would also be required to contribute to the education of a U.S. student or to retrain existing tech workers in the desired skills.



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Apr 24, 2007 4:03 AM Bob Bob  says:
?? where do you get the data that there is IT shortages????Please supply reference(s)Data I've seen show total #s of IT workers is still below the crest in 2000 before the DOT.com bust!How many IT workers are still unemployed, undereployed or just quit the profession as Korporate AmerIka wants it fill of cheap foreign (H-1B) labor! Reply
Apr 24, 2007 5:18 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:
I have published BLS numbers here: www.freedomcast.com - job growth in Software occupations in 2006 is slightly negative over 2005. If we aren't created new jobs, how can anyone claim a shortage?So are people actually arguing that there aren't enough unemployed? Just what do you think will happen to unemployment when you flood an occupation with cheap and exploited labor? Reply
Apr 24, 2007 6:51 AM jgo jgo  says:
Employment of production workers by software publishers remains below the early-depression peak:http://www.kermitrose.com/images/SWProdDev.jpgmore on employment, duration of unemployment, unemployment insurance claims, etc.http://www.kermitrose.com/jgoEconData.html Reply
Apr 24, 2007 8:03 AM Jim Jim  says:
IT shortage? Those IT workers who lost their jobs in the 2001 cut backs and who are now working as truck drivers count as employed truck drivers, not unemployed computer programmers.Moreover if there were a shortage of computer programmers wages of computer programmers would be going up. Wages are going down indicating a surplus. As in a glut of H-1Bs suppressing wages. Back in 2001, before the influx of H-1Bs there were plenty of American science and engineering students in the pipeline. Then IT jobs got a triple hit: 1) the dot.com bubble burst, 2) the cap on H-1Bs was raised to 195,000 resulting in declining total jobs while jobs went to foreigners, and 3) outsourcing of many jobs.Much like the man who killed his parents and them asked sympathy because he is an orphan industry killed science and engineering jobs with cheap H-1B labor and now ask for more H-1Bs to make up the resulting decline in students in science and engineering. Reply
Apr 24, 2007 8:08 AM Dana Dana  says:
Looking to Indiahttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/15/business/yourmoney/15view.html?em&ex=1176782400&en=fb88952e19550bc8&ei=5087%0ACompanies that specialize in offshore outsourcing of technology work to India have the most requests for skilled-worker visas in the United States.COMPANIES WITH THE MOST H-1B EMPLOYEES IN 2006 / H-1B POSITIONS REQUESTEDInfosys Technologies 22,590Wipro Technologies 19,450Cognizant Technology Solutions 11,330Patni Computer Systems 9,922MphasiS* 9,908HCL America 9,128Deloitte & Touche 8,367Tata Consultancy Services 7,528Accenture 7,253Satyam Computer Services 7,235*Now a subsidiary of Electronic Data SystemsSource: Department of Labor Note these companies are all consulting companies. This means that one job solicited by a client company results in 10 or more "virtual jobs" being solicited by competing consulting companies and job boards. Using the US immigration system as a temporary employment agency is constitutionally illegal and is a fraud against the people of the United States. Reply
Apr 24, 2007 10:45 AM Long Term Long Term  says:
All comments have thus far been H1b bashing or anti-immigrant bashing!!H1b of course is a short term solution but as Bill Gates himself suggested H1b visas are a place holders for Microsoft to sponsor a Greencard. Greencards are a nightmare and none of you Bobs, Danas seemed to comment on a solution here! Reply
Apr 25, 2007 1:11 AM Noone's bashing immigrants Noone's bashing immigrants  says:
However, H-1B is not an immigration policy. It is a policy that mentions foreign programmers, specifically, and gives them preference over other people when applying for visas. It is unfair to foriegn non-programmers, who would like to come to the US. And it is unfair to US programmers.Let's not forget there's a wall being built on Texas's southern border to keep unskilled labor out. And I have to conclude that you, buy supporting preferential treatment for foreign programmers, also support that wall. So who's bashing immigrants here? You?Noone bashed immigrants. All we said is that the economic assumptions for this differential treatment for programmers are unsound. They are.What's good for the goose is good for the gander. There is no logical reason to mention programmers in the Visa laws. Doing so is market tampering, unfair to foreign unskilled labor, and unfair to US programmers. Reply
Apr 25, 2007 3:45 AM FYI FYI  says:
FYIH1b is the ONLY visa available for educated (US and otherwise)skilled immigrants without family in US to migrate to US. There are other visas available but are reserved for skilled people like golfers (PhD arent' skilled enough for this visas).When someone says they are against H1b visa but are for legal immigration, its BS. Reply
Apr 25, 2007 5:24 AM Barb Barb  says:
The fact that the limit was reached in one day is not proof that we need to raise the limit, merely proof that some companies engage in foul play in trying to grab job opportunities away from Americans. If you look through an actual government H-1B application database, you'll see some large bodyshops (both US-based and foreign) filing massive batch applications for tens, hundreds, and even thousands of workers in one fell swoop. This visa was supposed to be used for the US to cherry-pick the best and brightest foreign workers, not to import massive waves of ordinary rank-and-file workers to displace our own. Sadly, many people still believe that a foreigner can only be brought in if no qualified American can be found, but that only applies to a tiny minority of companies. For most, there is NO requirement to look for an American, or even post the opening where an American might see it and apply. They can even bring in foreign workers, force the American incumbents to train them, then fire the Americans and keep the foreigners. There are simply too few controls and too little enforcement with this visa. Another myth is the 'prevailing wage.' It does not mean that H-1Bs earn the same as Americans. Some do, but many don't - overall, an average of $13-20K less. The law allows them to be paid in the 17th percentile for their job classification. It also allows tricks to be played such as manipulating job titles and classifications, and using local wage figures to file for a worker in a cheaper area and then moving the worker to where the work will really be done. Because of this leeway, bodyshopping contractors have little difficulty lowballing incumbent American workers and applicants, winning contracts, and elbowing American employees off of work sites. If the people being brought in are so important to America, let the jobs be advertized where everyone can see and apply, and let visas be put out to bid or slap a premium on them to drive the pay for foreign workers sky high. Then we'll see how much America "needs" this influx of humanity. Reply
Apr 25, 2007 7:21 AM Skilled American Skilled American  says:
Re: Long TermSo youre tired of immigrant bashing, huh? Well, Im tired of all the citizen bashing being done by executives and the corporate media outlets that keep shouting that we need more H-1b visas because citizens arent smart enough, skilled enough, educated enough, etc, etc.I am no low skilled idiot. I have up to date skills in both the J2EE and .NET platforms.Ill agree that greencards are a nightmare, allright.Some the rudest, most racist, and most anti American managers and co-workers Ive ever had are those that are former H-1bs that got their green cards.As far as Im concerned the fewer green cards given out the better. Reply
Apr 25, 2007 7:58 AM Noone's bashing immigrants Noone's bashing immigrants  says:
What's BS?The skilled don't necessarily like making what a truck driver makes.Consider: India: programmer salary/truck driver salary=10US: programmer salary/truck driver salary=1.5Result: India produces more programmers than the US.Everything is relative. Noone is really counting how many playstations EVERYONE in the US owns--only how much more one profession pays than the other.And it's this ratio that H-1B tampers with.It's deliberate selection of the skilled is the EXACT thing that skilled laborers object to. "Responding with, dude, that's wrong, see how skilled I am?" only indicates that you can't read, or feel that you deserve preferential treatment for one reason or another.The ulitmate argument against H-1Bs is this: H-1Bs programmers don't want their kids to become programmers--because the field is overcrowded. Reply
Apr 25, 2007 8:00 AM Noone's bashing immigrants Noone's bashing immigrants  says:
Whats BS?The skilled dont necessarily like making what a truck driver makes.Consider: India: programmer salary/truck driver salary=10US: programmer salary/truck driver salary=1.5Result: India produces more programmers than the US.Everything is relative. Noone is really counting how many playstations EVERYONE in the US ownsonly how much more one profession pays than the other.And its this ratio that H-1B tampers with.Its deliberate selection of the skilled is the EXACT thing that skilled laborers object to. Responding with, "dude, thats wrong, see how skilled I am? only indicates that you cant read, or feel that you deserve preferential treatment for one reason or another.The ulitmate argument against H-1B is this: H-1B programmers dont want their kids to become programmersbecause the field is overcrowded.RSS feed for comments Reply
Apr 25, 2007 8:25 AM Bob Bob  says:
Suggested viewing: http://www.forthecause.us/ftc-video-CNN-H1B_Visa_Increases_070424.wmv http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh6OLUPSHyEhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H65f3q_Lm9U Reply
Apr 26, 2007 3:33 AM FYI FYI  says:
The World is Flat! If you are refering to pre-1965 era you know where you are getting at!! The next Einsten or Fermi might very well not be from Europe!Just visit one Engineering/Business school and get a reality check. Reply
Apr 26, 2007 10:38 AM Bob Bob  says:
?????How'd we do it the period 1925-65 minimum immgration, NO H-1b's still we brought in the best/brighestSzilard, Fermi, Einstein, von Braun, Teller, Sir Frank Whittle, etc etc We won a World War, entered an WON the space race Now America is a bunch of Dummies that we need more foreign talent Please explain Reply
Apr 26, 2007 11:19 AM JMS JMS  says:
As a Human Resources representative, I see first hand how the H-1B visa and employment based green card programs actually work together to drive U.S. tech and other white collar workers from their jobs and even their careers. H-1B is a dual intent visa, so employers may sponsor H-1Bers for an EB green card for legal permanent resident status. Companies routinely game the labor certification process for green card sponsorship to defraud even well qualified citizen job applicants in favor of low wage foreigners. They use fake job ads and/or bad faith interviews of American citizens to convince the federal government that they tried to find American workers first. I would be in favor of a program that issues a small number of self-sponsoring green cards for truly innovative foreign nationals on a competitive basis. But very few of the H-1Bers or green card applicants that I have even come close to being truly innovative. Most are just practitioners with skills that actually quite common among the domestic workforce. The only thing special about these foreigners is that they will work for substantially less than Americans in order to have a chance to become legal permanent residents. Thus they are used by management to sweeten corporate balance sheets.Citizens should demand that both the H-1B and EB green card programs be abolished in their current form. Reply
Apr 27, 2007 12:13 PM JMS JMS  says:
As a Human Resources representative, I see first hand how the H-1B visa and employment based green card programs actually work together to drive U.S. white collar workers from their jobs and even from their careers. To begin with, the H-1B rules clearly state that an H-1B worker can be hired even when a qualified American wants the job, and any American worker can be terminated in favor of an H-1Ber. H-1B is also a dual intent visa, so an employer may sponsor an H-1Ber for an EB green card for legal permanent resident status. Companies routinely game the labor certification process for green card sponsorship to defraud even well qualified citizen job applicants in favor of low wage foreigners. They use fake job ads and/or bad faith interviews of American citizens to convince the federal government that they tried to find American workers first. These practices are common in high tech and even in some non-tech industries, but HR people are told to keep quiet about it or lose their jobs.I would be in favor of a program that issues a small number of self-sponsoring green cards for truly innovative foreign nationals on a competitive basis. But very few of the H-1Bers or green card applicants that I have seen in 10+ years even come close to being truly innovative. Most are just practitioners with skills that actually quite common among the domestic workforce. The only thing special about these foreigners is that they will work for substantially less than Americans in order to have a chance to become legal permanent residents. Thus they are used by management to sweeten corporate balance sheets.Since my work allows me to have access to salary records, I can tell you that the labor cost savings for H-1Bers and green card applicants is substantially greater than the costs of filing the applications with the government. Citizens should demand that both the H-1B and EB green card programs be abolished in their current form. Reply
Apr 30, 2007 7:30 AM Nikhil Nikhil  says:
H1 B visas are not really the issue and definitely not a cure. What has been messed up is our green card policy. We train people (e.g. H1B) and then provide a lackadaisical and unpredictable path to permanent residency. A number of frustrated people finally leave the US and go back to India (or whereever). And we have just trained and sent out new competition. Also the comment from one of the individuals regarding the H1B being a precursor to a green card is wrong. Most foreign companies are converting very few of their H1s to green cards (including most of the largest users of H1Bs).We need to develop a mechanism for qualified people that are following due process to obtain green cards. With regard to the comment on IT not being a long term career for the children of those programmers, the answer is that will also be a transient issue. We are sending all kinds of jobs out (engineering, finance, manufacturing, legal, accounting, etc.), not only IT. So all professions will be impacted. And its not only us (Indian companies are outsourcing to Indonesia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, etc). So all countries will be impacted (at least all capitalist countries). Countries such as China still have a regulated environment and outside access from an employment perspective into that market is still a problem.Eventually we need to:1. Retain the best talent from the transient immigration population. An improved green card process and a larger quota for employment based green cards proportional to the H1Bs may be a good starting point.2. We need to provide a competitive education (which at least in my son's school district we have started doing in language arts and math, though we still have gaps in science) and focusing on new technologies (nano, etc.).3. We need to keep our industry focused on providing opportunities for new business and enterpreneurship.4. Maintain a sufficient R&D comittment, both private (US companies) and institutional (where we are slipping in pure sciences). This limits the innovativeness of the individual, company and the country. Reply
May 1, 2007 7:20 AM John John  says:
No one has mentioned the trillion dollar debt that is about to explode in America's face. In the past USA had service industries that produced surpluses to offset the money Americans spent on imported goods. Now you are exporting your services (especially IT) you are in hock to the rest of the world for that too. IN order to pay for your debt you are selling your assets (companies, land) - just like the UK.Germany believes in protecting its home industries and workers. As a result it is the biggest exporter in the world and has just recorded the biggest trade surplus ever (to China indeed!). My German friends think the USA and UK have gone mad and there will be a huge crash soon.A fool and their money are soon parted... Reply
May 1, 2007 11:28 AM Karl Karl  says:
The green card policy is messed up in that we give out far too many of them.One Indian project manager at the company where I work has his green card, and he never hires Americans; everyone in his group is from China or India and all of them are either H1B or green card people.H1B visas and green cards only lead to more and more discrimination against Americans in IT. Reply

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