H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says - InformationWeek
IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing
03:24 PM
Connect Directly
Moving UEBA Beyond the Ground Floor
Sep 20, 2017
This webinar will provide the details you need about UEBA so you can make the decisions on how bes ...Read More>>

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
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
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."

[ Are mobile phones emasculating? Attention Google: 12 Ways To Make Smartphones More Manly. ]

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."

Attend Interop Las Vegas, May 6-10, and attend the most thorough training on Apple Deployment at the NEW Mac & iOS IT Conference. Use Priority Code DIPR03 by March 9 to save up to $500 off the price of Conference Passes. Join us in Las Vegas for access to 125+ workshops and conference classes, 350+ exhibiting companies, and the latest technology. Register for Interop today!

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 8 / 8
User Rank: Apprentice
8/12/2013 | 3:31:35 AM
re: H-1B Workers Not Best Or Brightest, Study Says

Im among the "less talented". I think some of this information is prejudiced and partisan. The argument - appear to be somewhat less talented on average, as indicated by their lower wages, than the Americans

doesnt hold, I get paid less because I demand less. I demand less because I need less, my country pays me far lesser than the US, so to me, its great!

As far as less talented, im less trained, we dont have the resources. Im also a Mensa member, from a country where the smartest people in the world are born. If we arent rich, stupidity does not follow.

Im tired of what im increasingly seeing as racial digs - "code monkey" "you get what you pay for" and so forth. Am I wrong?

I dont have a solution for your fear for your job, this situation is complex. I do know that blaming people you do not know or care about is not a solution, just a bigger problem.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2015 | 1:23:37 PM
h1b salary data


This website has all the wage information with superb charts to understand wage distributions for h1b workers across the US. Yes, there are a few low paid workers, but for the most part salaries being paid out to the h1b workers is way above the median us income level.
User Rank: Strategist
2/5/2015 | 9:24:27 PM
Re: h1b salary data
Amazing how when you enter IBM India Private Limited your argument falls apart isn't it?

But hey, I'm willing to put your data against mine since it looks like we both use the LCA data.

How about we go to Keep America At Work dot com and click on the 2014 or 2015 maps on the left hand sidebar?
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2015 | 9:56:48 PM
Re: h1b salary data
For the 2014 data on your site, there are 600 listings with base wages under $32,000.00.  A person would have to be REALLY stupid to move to the US for less than $15.69 per hour.
<<   <   Page 8 / 8
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
IT Strategies to Conquer the Cloud
Chances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.
Twitter Feed
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.
Flash Poll