Mobile // Mobile Applications
News
9/27/2012
03:03 PM
50%
50%

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.

See the future of business technology at Interop New York, Oct. 1-5. It's the best place to learn about next-generation technologies including cloud computing, BYOD, big data, and virtualization. Register by Friday, Sept. 28, to save 40% off on Interop New York Conference Passes with code WEYLBQNY09.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
bdilbert980
50%
50%
bdilbert980,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2012 | 5:41:08 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
The big lie - employers cannot find qualified American talent. Keep repeating it over, and over, and over, and eventually people think its the truth.

Fact - there is NO shortage of highly qualified American tech talent, more than ready, willing and able to innovate, solve our country's problems, and take us forward.

There is ZERO need for H1B visa workers in the US until egregious loopholes in H1b visa law are changed. Today it is 100% legal for employers to NEVER consider Americans and exclusively recruit offshore for jobs in your zip code.

Why can't employers find qualified Americans? Simple, they don't want to - since they bought off Congress, they are not legally required to ever seek American talent.

How can this happen? Ask Bill Gates and convicted felon/sidekick Jack Abramoff - google "Greedy Gates Gambit" to learn more. Reads like a Tom Clancy novel, too bad its not fiction.
GAProgrammer
50%
50%
GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
9/28/2012 | 6:25:47 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
As usual, someone's solution to the education "shortage" is to throw money at it. Why not butter up the politicians with another way to get another $500 million, about 50 million of which would actually make it to any educational program, right? The problem is the education system. Until it gets fixed, we could throw the entire national budget at it and the problem will remain.

I am not sure where the entire solution lies, but it definitely is not creating yet another failing government program by milking private industry.
Andrew
50%
50%
Andrew,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2012 | 6:33:54 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
Assuming there truly is a shortage (and I have my doubts), wouldn't it make sense for Microsoft, with its vast wealth, to fund more scholarships across the United States for software engineering, computer science and computer engineering students to draw them to the field and expand the resource pool? This line of thought assumes that universities have the resources and capacity to handle more students in these fields but if the demand were there, surely the universities would react to meet that demand. Microsoft's real motivation, I suspect, is a desire to bring in lower cost talent to provide an alternative, and competition, to domestic workers with the goal of reducing its labor costs.
AustinIT
50%
50%
AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2012 | 6:52:41 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
Microsoft - I'm not buying your excuses.

We live in a globally connected world don't we? So, quit griping about not being able to hire enough workers that you want stateside and hire them in the country you want to recruit them from. Use your own technology to communicate with them instead of trying to convince us how uneducated you think our populace is.
akeenan452
50%
50%
akeenan452,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2012 | 7:08:19 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
Microsoft has a history of this. If you look back in time they were big on contractors who were really employees. This is not about lack of talent it is about willingness to train and/or pay. Having said that it is a fact that each year a greater percentage of world wide college grads will not be Americans. The number of grads overseas is increasing and is expected to increase for decades. American companies will want to take advantage of this pool of workers. So american workers will have to compete against this labor source in America or as off shored resources. This will likely also act to keep wages from increasing at levels Americans enjoyed in the past. 2 apples and 2 dollars = one dollar an apple. 10 apples and 2 dollars = 20 cent apples.
American IT worker
50%
50%
American IT worker,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2012 | 7:14:24 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
Why not spend the $10,000 to $15,000 training an American? There are plenty of American IT workers who would love the opportunity.
SkiMan01
50%
50%
SkiMan01,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2012 | 7:45:38 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
There is one way to test the thesis of the article. Paul McDougall who wrote this article can volunteer to be the point man of a test. It goes as follows:

Everyone who reads this article should send in a resume to Microsoft and at the same time forward a copy of he resume and the article to their Federal Congressman and Senator. then forward a copy to Paul here at Informationweek. If you get no reply in, say one month, then forward another email to informationweek and let Paul take score of how many people Micorsoft is willing to interview and how many they actually hire.

Well, Paul, what do you think, if everyone is willing to send a resume are you willing to track the results?
halseyjr61
50%
50%
halseyjr61,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2012 | 11:01:38 PM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
I am sorry to inform some of the people that have posted comments here that the US does have ample talent in the critical field of STEM that they are wrong. The fact is that the US does not graduate as many engineers and related compared to countries like China, India and others.
China, India, Japan and others are highly nationalistic nations and realize the importance of leadership in high technologies. Some nations provide free education for talented individuals. American students are effectively 'priced out' of higher eduction which has an effect on national security as mentioned later.
I had recently read an article relating to this subject. Many foreign students train here in the US at prestigious US colleges in courses like engineering, computer science, physics etc. and a group of foreign students were interviewed and asked if they would prefer to remain in the US if allowed (60 minutes piece related to H1B visas). Many responded wanting to stay here in the US but are forced back to their respective country.
Take a tour of the STEM classes in America's top colleges and I will guarantee you that the majority are foreign nationals. These individuals will take the finest education available in the world and return to their native country to work at companies competing with US tech firms.
This is a national security problem. The US must find and maintain American talent by creating interest in critical fields early in a students education timeframe preferably in junior high school.
Without sounding racist, has anyone other than myself noticed that major breakthroughs in STEM are made by foreigners or foreign born Americans?
Brian Bartlett
50%
50%
Brian Bartlett,
User Rank: Strategist
9/29/2012 | 1:12:41 AM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
The problem here is that you are conflating the current pool of people obtaining recent and new STEM degrees with the available pool of candidates. InformationWeek regularly runs salary surveys and when I look at all the tech jobs available by their requirements and compare that to the offered salaries, rarely do I see a correspondence with the actual salaries paid according to the surveys for those skill sets. This indicates a serious disconnect between what is on offer as compared to what is required.

Yes, adding additional H1B workers will satisfy the need as those workers are willing to accept a lower salary than the market. This sure isn't rocket or nuclear engineering, which I can do as well. It's basic supply and demand, supply increases, salaries decline. Where are the natural market force results under increased demand with constant or (supposedly declining) supply? I should also point out that when you survey people as to which choices of fields of study they are interested in, you also find a market at work. When salaries of individuals in tech fields were high and rising at much higher than the inflation rate, the number of people from the US entering the field was rising. As the salaries, and wage growth rate, declined relative to other fields, guess what? The number of people entering the field as well as the number of US students declined. Similar alarms were also raised about the number of children from elementary to high-school interested in those fields.

Microsoft, and other firms, are making a rational, economic, argument in their own interest. Increase the supply of technical workers, and assure their availability for the near future, by increasing H1B workers makes sense. Where it does not make the least bit of sense is in relation to the interests of the workers native to this country already. They'd much rather get paid the market wage. This also ill portends for the future when disinterest by US citizens for STEM, or any tech, fields in only accelerated.

Sorry, but we are looking at an interlocking set of socio-economic relationships and simple answers have real consequences through demographic feedback loops. I understand those. Apparently not many, especially our best, bought politicians.
FloS
50%
50%
FloS,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 3:13:09 AM
re: Microsoft Says 6,000 Jobs Open, Wants More Visas
I don't have a tech degree but I think the idea of sending in resumes that mirror what MS says they lack would definitely prove the point. In fact, I would be more than willing to track the experiment.

I am also interested in tuition costsand financial support in India and China. My son was working on a Math degree but was unable to afford the tuition. Neither of us think borrowing $30,000 a year for tuition and living expenses is sane. So he dropped out for a year to earn money so he can go back. Now he could go part-time but that means twice as long to get his degree. If India and China are supporting their students so they can go full-time or even double up on coursework to get out faster then this needs to also be brought to the attention of elected officials. Maybe MS and Apple are paying off the politicians to get the H1B visas but without data it's a little hard to protest.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.