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3/1/2013
03:24 PM
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H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says

Skilled foreign worker programs are causing a U.S. brain drain, an Economic Policy Institute report says.

2012 Salary Survey: 12 Career Insights
2012 Salary Survey: 12 Career Insights
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Managers of high-tech companies insist they need more H-1B visas for foreign IT workers to ensure access to the best and brightest workforce. But a study released on Thursday finds that imported IT talent is often less talented than U.S. workers.

The study, published by the Economic Policy Institute and conducted by Norman Matloff, professor of computer science at the University of California in Davis, compares U.S. and foreign IT workers' salaries, rates of PhD awards, doctorates earned and employment in research and development to determine whether those admitted to the U.S. under the H-1B visa program have skills beyond those of U.S. IT workers.

Based on Matloff's analysis, there's no evidence that those granted H-1B visas offer exceptional talents.

"We thus see that no best and brightest trend was found for the former foreign students in either computer science or electrical engineering," Matloff writes in his report. "On the contrary, in the CS case the former foreign students appear to be somewhat less talented on average, as indicated by their lower wages, than the Americans."

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The report concludes that the H-1B program and related work programs are not making the U.S. companies more innovative and are in some ways making them less so.

The technology industry sees things differently. It insists there's a shortage of IT talent in the U.S., based on the lack of students graduating from science, technology, engineering and math disciplines (STEM). Earlier this week, Code.org, a nonprofit organization that aims to encourage more students to learn programming, published statements from tech industry leaders that reflected the widespread assertion that there's a tech talent shortage.

As Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg put it in one such statement, "Our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. There just aren't enough people who are trained and have these skills today."

Other tech industry leaders have been saying as much for years, which is why immigration programs like H-1B exist. And the tech industry's sustained complaints about lack of access to technical talent recently lead to the introduction of the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, which aims to expand the number of visas available under the H-1B program.

Outside the U.S. there are similar claims of an IT worker shortage. Last month, European Commission VP Neelie Kroes bemoaned the growing digital skills gap that threatens European competitiveness.

Critics of the H-1B program see it as a way for companies to keep IT wages low, to discriminate against experienced U.S. workers and to avoid labor law obligations.

In his examination of the presumed correlation between talent and salary, Matloff observes that Microsoft has been exaggerating how much it pays foreign workers. Citing past claims by the company that it pays foreign workers "$100,000 a year to start," Matloff says the data shows that only 18% of workers with software engineering titles sponsored for green cards by Microsoft between 2006 and 2011 had salaries at or above $100,000.

"By contrast, 34% of Microsoft's green card sponsorees with financial analyst titles made over $100,000, as did 71% of its lawyers in the PERM data," he said. "It would seem that, counter to its rhetoric, engineers are not top priority for Microsoft..."

Marnie Dunsmore, an integrated circuit engineer who has worked for companies such as Intel, said in an email that she believes the H-1B program has had the effect of making it easier to send jobs offshore and has discouraged U.S. students from seeking computer science education. And she disputed the notion that there's a shortage of U.S. IT talent.

Dunsmore recounted her experience with a recent job interview as a mixed-signal integrated circuit tester. The interviewer, she said, said was unwilling to conduct on-the-job training. "In other words, he was not willing to let me sit down with the manuals, pick up what someone else has done, and allow me to spend a couple of weeks figuring out what test code he needs to have tweaked," she explained. "Ten years ago, a test lab would have jumped at the chance to get an experienced circuit designer to do test design and coding. Now, they're so flooded with hiring options that they can turn their nose up at having to train, even for a few weeks, very experienced programmers and engineers."

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GoldenIndira
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GoldenIndira,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2013 | 8:37:13 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
There is a skills shortage. Just because you gave yourself a fancy title, doesn't mean you know your stuff. And just because you have some skills, it doesn't mean they are skills anyone needs or wants or cares for. ALL my coworkers, esp. the US workers, get calls from several recruiters every week esp. these past few months. Companies are poaching right now from other companies. The reason why many aren't leaving our company is because right now they've finally paid a salary that no one else can beat. They aren't "young" either and they aren't getting paid low wages either ( 100K+ atleast). If you aren't getting calls, it is because you just don't have what anyone wants or needs. I did some fancy stuff in college too, but no one needs those skills either so I'm definitely not working in that field. Some companies do invest in training. Actually many do. But it depends on whether or not you are trainable. Quit lying to yourself. You need a reality check more than anything. My friend is a USC and he has a music degree and I've seen him being able to do computers better than most. he just started his computer job and makes more than his friends who have worked 10 years. It's because he can pick up things real quick. You can blame all the H1Bs you want, but if you are too slow to pick up concepts, even when they ban H1Bs and ship all of them back, you'll still never find a job because you just don't have what it takes to be trainable.
GoldenIndira
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GoldenIndira,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2013 | 8:13:29 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
Not all of the 3 people who graduate are employable, not in terms of wages but quality. I've interviewed people with CS degrees who don't know what a factorial is or understand recursion. Not all of the 3 people graduating are in fields that have a high demand. Nuclear Engineers have a high demand. Yet not many grads have degrees in nuclear engineering. Just because you have a degree doesn't mean you are good at what you got a degree in.
GoldenIndira
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GoldenIndira,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2013 | 7:55:34 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
They teach about the human body in grade school too. That doesn't make becoming a doctor an assembly line trade. They teach music in grade school too, that doesn't make singing into assembly line trade either. Teaching kids in grade school about programming allows them to pick new programming languages quickly as they get older. It means by the time they are teens their fundamentals are very clear. Which means that if a job needs C# it wont take him 3 months to get the hang of it, but 3 days.
GoldenIndira
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GoldenIndira,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2013 | 7:37:20 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
And even if you can train them, how many will become quality engineers? Coding isn't simply putting words together, it is the ability to think too. It is not an assembly line job. The unemployment rate is 4.5 in IT and engineering. 1.6 for Nuclear Engineers. Go for nuclear engineering if you can't find a job in IT. Not all 40 million people will be able to code or work in IT. Most of them are construction workers or telemarketers or boiler maintenance guys who can't find work. Didn't the superior American education teach one to be able to discern these facts?
GoldenIndira
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GoldenIndira,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2013 | 7:25:22 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
The comparison between financial analysts and Lawyers to software engineers was faulty to say the least. How about comparing Engineers to other Engineers? Most financial analysts have MBAs and Lawyers a law degree. They are known as professional degrees and market values determine that most usually can expect to get more than a 100K as starting salary. Which is why both these degrees are expensive. Engineering degrees are not. The market for engineers is different from Lawyers not just because of the H1B. It's because getting an engineering undergrad is as expensive as getting an Arts undergrad, while a law or mba costs more.
gking945
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gking945,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/13/2013 | 7:00:56 AM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
I am assuming that you are talking about a citizen (ex) of India and not a native american here. For your information, Indian citizens are not eligible to participate in the Diversity Visa Lottery. You got punked!
braya
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braya,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2013 | 4:34:15 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
Coding is a universal language and American's are not even "the best & the brightest" in their own language. Catch my drift? I.T. in general is a skill.

Steve Jobs was of Arab descent. Bill Gates is of Scottish descent. Mark Zuckerberg is Jewish. Why did these people succeed in America? ItG«÷s because they got a hold of computers at a much earlier age than the rest of the world. Americans has more access to tools, resources and funds but that is no longer the case today.

When we say superior or inferior talent are we referring to a personG«÷s nationality or the personG«÷s genes?

Then Logic and Genealogy would dictate that pure American blood is not superior.

Therefore, the statement or theory that G«£AmericanG«• I.T. are of superior talent in the field over their foreign counterparts in the industry is really baseless and the salary factor is not even a reliable barometer. The only thing that the salary measure is labor exploitation.

Talent and Intelligence knows no race, PERIOD!
braya
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braya,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2013 | 4:13:31 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
First, define American.

Second, the above-mentioned factors are not valid barometers for a foreign I.T.'s talent. Not even close.

Lastly, the Americans you are referring to are the same Americans that brought this country to its current state. Reason? GREED.
braya
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braya,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2013 | 4:09:51 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
Since it is the U.S. GOVERNMENT that allowed H-1B for for Highly Skilled Specialty Occupations, I think the burden of proof to show evidence that there is no shortage in I.T. talents in the U.S. are on the individuals against it.
twins.fan
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twins.fan,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/9/2013 | 11:00:10 PM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says
The US graduates three college grads with a STEM degree for every job that Corporate America creates. There is no shortage of STEM grads.
<<   <   Page 2 / 8   >   >>
2014 US Salary Survey: 10 Stats
2014 US Salary Survey: 10 Stats
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