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Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas

Microsoft says it can't find enough skilled IT workers to fill open positions, but critics say the company is merely trying to justify hiring foreigners.

Microsoft has thousands of openings for computer scientists, programmers, and other IT pros that it can't fill due to a shortage of skilled workers, a company executive said Thursday.

"We are creating unfilled jobs," said Microsoft chief counsel Brad Smith, speaking at a forum on immigration policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. "We have a shortage."

Smith said Microsoft currently has 6,000 openings, 3,400 of which are for software engineers, developers, programmers, and the like. He said Microsoft can't fill many of the positions because it is unable to find enough applicants with the high-tech skills it needs in key areas like cloud computing and mobility.

[ For another perspective on IT hiring, see How To Build A High-Performance IT Team. ]

Smith said the problem is twofold: U.S. colleges aren't turning out enough grads educated in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and the U.S. government's immigration policies are preventing the company from importing enough foreign workers to fill the gap.

Smith said the economy is creating 120,000 new jobs per year that require STEM skills, but colleges are only producing 40,000 STEM grads annually. "This shortage is going to get worse," said Smith.

Smith called on Congress to increase the number of high-tech visas available for foreign IT workers. He said the government should issue 20,000 STEM-specific visas each year, in addition to the 65,000 H-1B visas currently available. He also called for 20,000 new green cards for tech workers. Smith said the government should charge companies $10,000 per visa for the former, and $15,000 for the latter.

Smith said the government could use the $500 million that such programs would create to fund more STEM training for U.S. students. The programs would also allow Microsoft and other high-tech employers "to fill the jobs that are simply sitting open today."

Smith said the shortage of high-tech workers is impacting more than just technology companies. "The future of any industry in this country, you're thinking and talking about the future of software," said Smith, who noted that industries like financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing are more dependent on IT than ever. "We are not alone," said Smith.

If Congress fails to enact immigration reforms, "the jobs could go to other countries," said Smith.

Not everyone buys Microsoft's claim that there is a shortage of American IT workers. Critics say the company simply wants to hire more foreign workers because they cost less.

"They probably have 6,000 jobs to fill because they are enamored of foreign labor," said Les French, president of WashTech, a Seattle are tech worker advocacy group that is affiliated with Communications Workers of America. "I doubt they couldn’t fill the jobs from the available labor pool in the U.S.," said French, in an e-mail to InformationWeek.

The 65,000 H-1B visas that were allotted for the government's new fiscal year, which starts next week, have all been used, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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User Rank: Apprentice
5/21/2014 | 3:18:18 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
I have workd for and with many different people of several nationalities. It has been my experience that the Inidan and Chinese are the most difficult to work with. They are very condescending and very dismissive of anything that is not their idea. I have been a manager and have experienced the same people in a situation where I was the boss and their attitudes are very different. Their culturer (Indian and Chinese) gives them a certain indset and they are not willing to be cooperative if they are in the position of power. I am a very open minded individual and this is just my personal experience. There is one thing that really pisses mne off and that is being called racists just because you voi8ce your opinion, ecven when it is based on personal experience. I have worked with people from all over the world and this is just my observation.
User Rank: Apprentice
8/12/2013 | 7:00:59 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
Just do a search on Monster or Dice and see how many open positions pop out. I am a manager and know how difficult it is to find candidates who have the skill sets to fill in the experienced programming jobs. I would prefer to hire a citizen or green card holder as it's less immigration headache. Hiring an H1b worker requires additional approvals which most Managers dont want to go through. But unfortunately it's not a eay task to fill out open positions with non-h1b candidates. It's not a cake walk for those working under H1B visa's as you guys make out to be and mind you they are well paid as their american counterparts. Someone who commented earlier turned a Microsoft job ... really? You do know that HR takes racism very seriously and can fire that person if you go through that situation. Isn't your comment a form of racism?. In this economy if you have a citizenship and right skill set it's not a difficult task to find a job.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/2/2012 | 5:10:27 AM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
I was offered a job at microsoft last year. I turned it down.

One of the reasons for my decision was one of the Indian programmers told me "you don't just hit the publish button to deploy your code. It's a complicated process here." I replied by asking--since cloud is their new strategy--if they use multiple virtual servers to split test different versions of the website. Different versions could be stored on different cloud servers, and changes in the conversion rate tracked. It was a good interview response. But the statement made bothered me.

If I wrote something, it wouldn't get deployed to production easily. He implied that he, and his friends would be an obstacle--even if the boss decided to hire me (which the manager did.)

I suspect that racism among Indians is the true reason for the "shortage" in this economy. The development staff--in a world that includes China, Russia,and Mexico--is 60%-70% Indian. The racism of Indians is the only explanation--India is NOT the highest scoring country in STEM or in any other field.

But Indians are among the most racist people the US imports. They simply refuse to work, or cooperate with anyone who is not Indian.

The result is--once you have a 70% Indian development staff, it must be 100% or nobody gets any work done.

The US has 100 times as many Mensa members as Microsoft employees. That's right--we could fill every member of Microsoft's staff, including the janitor, with a member of Mensa's high-IQ society, 100 times over and still not run out of geniuses.

So, at the right price--which Microsoft is WILLING to pay--geniuses exist in the US market.

The simple, and sad truth, is Indians won't work with qualified Americans--or for that matter, qualified people of any non-Indian nationality.

Indians are SO racist in the workplace that people are scared to talk about it. If you call an Indian racist, you're fired. If you call a white American racist, he asks you to forgive him for whatever he might have done wrong. Indians are known for being so racist that, as a common expression goes "Indians are never racist."

One Indian, whose intelligence I did admire, once told me sarcastically, "OK, so you're smart. I guess I'll just pack my bags and go home." He instead choose to play political games with his coworkers to ensure accomplishing anything would be difficult.

The fact is, H-1B is not nearly diverse enough. There's talented people all over the world. Many of these countries have math scores MUCH higher than India's.

We need to make sure H-1B is diverse enough that there is no chance for racism amongst the immigrants whom we are giving A LOT of power and authority to.

It's as if the Army were to recruit mercenaries to be officers because they're both smart and cheaper. While that decision may be questionable, I sure wouldn't want all the mercenaries to be from the same country. Every mercenary may have a second loyalty, but they shouldn't all agree on what it is.

India is not as diverse a country as the US. Indians have not been taught to be tolerant like the Americans have.

We're going to accept them. The question is, if we turn over the keys to Indians and allow the to "own" an important software development center, will they accept us?

If the answer is no, and we want opportunity for Americans, wouldn't it be better to import a diverse group of Chinese, Mexican, Kenyan, Indian, and Russian programmers? With such a diverse group, wouldn't it be guaranteed the new development team would also tolerate an American or two?


Two questions for your non-racist Indian friends:

Are Indians smarter than Americans?

If they are smarter than Americans, are they Americans?

Number 6
Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
10/1/2012 | 8:19:43 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
Tell Brad Smith and his friends at Microsoft to read this and then get Dr. Cappelli's book before they start throwing around the "skills gap" fallacy.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2012 | 6:28:37 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
Colleges are only producing 40,000 STEM grads per year?! Has that been independently verified? That is a horrifying figure if it's true!
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2012 | 5:24:17 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
As one of those people that Microsoft and alot of other companies says that are not out there, I find their comments rather hilarious, if it was not so depressing. I have been looking for 6 years for a full time position in Networking and PC Support. I have a degree in computer programing and more than 20 years experince in supporting PC's and networks and I enjoy the challange of working with new hardware and software. Do not get me wrong, I have met some highly qualified people that work under the H1B policys because they had some skills that I did not, but do not insult me in saying that there are no qualified people out there so they have go H1B. It is true that the US is losing its edge to other countries but why go into a field that is being outsourced to other countries. One thing that corporate American seems not see is that you lose the competitive edge by outsourcing because it is cheaper in one way, but you lose the support of the people because they see it as not being done in house so it is not cheaper.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2012 | 5:20:47 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
They have a shortage of people who will work for $.50 on the dollar.
User Rank: Strategist
10/1/2012 | 4:20:01 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
Already done as the one example subject of your proposed test (and yes I agree with Les French's opinion). I graduated in a STEM related degree field with a 4.0 average after having concentrated on and held top certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, Citrix and others. Still, the rejection notices when I was looking were all the same "sorry, but the competition was extremely keen or we have identified someone who better matched the skill set we desire." Implication, there are a lot of candidates. Interpretation, you are not under 25 or willing to accept less than $X to work with us. It is much less the hard qualifications than the accessory quals they are looking at and it is not only Microsoft (HP, Dell, ...listen to the footsteps).

As for more highly qualified, do this. Visit some english language tech blogging/chat sites where professionals try to exchange info or solve problems and try to identify the native english speaking from the foreign participants. Evaluate and analyze the level of the questions being posted and give consideration for possible language limitations. I think you will still be surprised.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2012 | 3:06:18 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
With all the job posting going on, in what I classify as the volunteer employment market, perhaps Microsoft would reduce the number of job openings by defining a value add propostion that would make Microsoft more attractive from a career prospective. By adopting a more pro-active recruiting approach with a value add propostion that makes sense, many of Microsoft's positions could be filled by top performing individuals from Microsoft's competition.
User Rank: Ninja
10/1/2012 | 1:28:25 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
So what happened to all the ones they fired years ago? Did they all find new jobs or dropped off the earth? Any reasonably smart HR department would call all these folks and ask them if they want to come back. Offer them a sign on bonus and restore their seniority, plus give them a written contract guaranteeing them to stay with Microsoft for at least three years (or even longer). If they found a different job and make more money there then at least match it. Offer relocation assistance if necessary. That should fill a good number of positions with people the company already knows (and of course, don't call those you were happy to see leaving) and at a price point that is sweet for both sides with the result that skilled workers can start in some cases even within a few weeks.
For the rest, hire within and fill the lower end jobs with new folks. Having your existing employees move upwards is very motivating and they already know the inner workings. They may need some training, but that should be a matter of weeks or a few months to get done. While that shifts the issue of open positions only to a different place it is likely much easier to hire for entry level positions than for upper level positions.
So much for my advice...not that anyone from Microsoft HR reads this post.
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