Strategic CIO // Team Building & Staffing
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3/6/2013
06:16 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?

Employers press for H-1B increases, while job hunters say searches seem designed to rule out U.S. workers. Is there really an IT talent shortage??

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There either is or isn't a technical talent shortage in the U.S. To hear corporate leaders tell it, America's woeful inability to educate enough students in science, technology, engineering and math has left U.S. companies with a dangerously shallow talent pool.

Arguably, this shortage is at least partially the result of past outsourcing, which has been discouraging U.S. students from pursuing IT careers.

Among the solutions advocated by the management class is expansion of the H-1B visa program, which aims "to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States," as the U.S. Department of Labor puts it.

[ Can the two sides ever agree on this issue? Read Immigration Reform: Find The Middle Ground. ]

Tech companies insist they cannot hire the talent they need. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said as much last week in a statement on Code.org. And Laszlo Bock, SVP of people operations at Google, said this in a statement in January: "[A]t a time when the U.S. economy needs it most, our immigration policies are stifling innovation. The 2013 cap for the H-1B visas that allow foreign high skilled talent to work temporarily in the U.S. was exhausted by June 2012, preventing tech companies from recruiting some of the world's brightest minds."

The recently introduced Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 intends to raise the H-1B visa cap, among other immigration law changes.

But a talent shortage might just be another way of describing an unwillingness to pay market rates for talent. As Peter Cappelli, professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School, put it in The Wall Street Journal back in October, 2011, "Some of the complaints about skill shortages boil down to the fact that employers can't get candidates to accept jobs at the wages offered. That's an affordability problem, not a skill shortage."

Although the record high set this week by the Dow Jones Industrial Average suggests a return of economic optimism, the U.S. unemployment rate is still not low enough to prevent jobs seekers in the U.S. -- particularly those trained in technical skills -- from resenting the fact that employers are looking to hire people from outside the country.

Norman Matloff, professor of computer science at the University of California in Davis, contends that foreign IT workers are popular with companies because they are de facto indentured servants. Foreign workers do not have the same rights as U.S. workers: For example, if they're being sponsored for a green card, they cannot quit and seek work at another company without resetting the green card process.

Foreign workers brought to the U.S. under these restrictions are participating in a form of human trafficking. Instead of sexual bondage, it's intellectual restraint.

Keeping workers from accepting better offers elsewhere is hugely important to technology companies, because the departure of key personnel from a project can set the project back months or more.

"If you have this urgent project going on in your company, you don't want an engineer to leave you in the lurch by going to another company," said Matloff in a phone interview. "With an American employee, there's no way to stop that. With a foreign employee, if he or she is sponsored for a green card, he or she is basically stuck."

Shackling technical talent is so important that Adobe Systems, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit and Pixar had agreements for several years not to hire employees away from one another, until the U.S. Department of Justice forced the companies to stop with the threat of an antitrust lawsuit. The department didn't manage, however, to get any of those companies to admit to wrongdoing.

Testifying earlier this week on behalf of IEEE-USA, a group representing more than 200,000 technical professionals and students, Bruce Morrison told a Congressional immigration policy subcommittee that the talent needs of U.S. companies would be better served by deregulating the process by which employers sponsor new hires for permanent residency. This would allow foreign workers to participate in the talent market on a more equitable basis.

"If an employer is willing to pay a substantial fee to sponsor a skilled foreign worker for a green card -- which means he or she can quit if they are underpaid -- that is solid evidence the employer actually needs the worker's skills," he said in prepared remarks. "But if an employer is only willing to pay a fee for a worker who cannot quit without going back to the beginning of the green card process, that indicates the employer is more interested in the indentured character of the visa, than in the worker's skills."

Beyond the objection to treating foreign workers as indentured servants, critics of the H-1B program see it as an enabler of age discrimination.

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GoldenIndira
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GoldenIndira,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2013 | 7:04:32 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
"such as five years of experience with a three-year-old technology -- as a reflection of the fact that the job posting is there to satisfy the statutory requirement in the green card process to consider U.S. workers before hiring a cheaper foreign worker."

Wrong. The person they are applying GC for in turn has to show proof that they have experience for 5 years for a technology that is only 3 years old. If that tech didn't exist for the last 3 years, then they can't have it. They can't just "lie" about it either. They will need written confirmed and verifiable ceriticates from former employers or coursework to support the documentation. The thing is if they called someone for an interview, it means they found at least ONE US citizen that met the minimum requirements. Not maximum but minimum. Since that US citizens resume will in turn have to submitted with the GC application, most will not do the GC application at all. Which makes the H1Bs PERM application null and void. They probably called the US citizen so that they wont HAVE to sponser the H1B's GC. Employers aren't just trying to screw US citizens, they are trying to screw H1Bs too. The job doesn't exist for the US citzen, but it wont for the H1 after 6 years either.
builder7
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builder7,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 10:35:56 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
You mean that companies undercut potential good programmers with offshored our H1B visa people, primarily from India. How can you sit there and say that a person can not make so much money, but on the other hand say that there is a right to free enterprise? What do you think this is when somebody invests at least 4 years and a hundred thousand dollars for school (loans, lost income, spent savings, parents money) so that they can work for some ungrateful corporations who thinks that they are a bunch of cows to be herded, with about as much sense as them! The only thing that the last election did is make everybody aware of the situation!
builder7
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builder7,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 5:47:07 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
Of course, we will probably never know if they are destroying it because of ineptness and philosophy, or because they want to destroy the U.S. piece by piece!
Wakjob2
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Wakjob2,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 5:44:51 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
Title 8, Section 1182 INADMISSIBLE ALIENS says ALL foreign workers are illegal and inelligible to work in US as long as Americans are out of work. IT'S THE LAW. Start suing companies that deny you jobs and hire illegals under this law since all of them are illegal.
builder7
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builder7,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 5:30:58 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
These politicians say that we are a nation of laws when they are locking up millions for using drugs, but they do not enforce the laws on immigration, regulations (except against the little guy), or collusion. The game is fixed and the government is in on it now!
builder7
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builder7,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 5:28:24 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
Yes, for so many years the American public believed that the stockholders owned these companies. They own the premium stock that gets paid first in case of a great loss. Not only that but they have control of the company and they are able to use this stockholder money any way that they want. It is mainly a gamble on the part of the public that they can be invested in a company that will make them some money. Now, these companies have figured out how to pay this money out, but then to get it all back by working in unison with other monied interests to cause recessions and other damage to not only the American economy, but the world economy!
builder7
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builder7,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 5:23:38 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
You are right and that is exactly what neo-classical, voodoo, 'conservative' economics is all about. It is where bankers control the money and the economy and every 10 years or so they abscond with as much money as they can steal - legally. We used to use this system in the U.S. before the great depression when it was called classical economics. Laissez-Faire is a theoretical concept that does not actually exist in reality and has nothing to do with classical economics. The main reason that they quit using this system and went to a more controlled, scientific system was that there was a big depression about every 10 or 15 years where everybody lost all of their money. This is where hiding money under the mattress and you can't trust banks sayings came from. The conservatives today are just pure money that is worldwide in scope and they are like a giant vacuum cleaner that will suck up every bit of money that you have if they can. IT workers were paid a heck of a lot more in the 1990's than they are now too, when we also didn't have an overabundance of them.
Wakjob2
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Wakjob2,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 5:06:04 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
A lot of companies are posting fake job ads just so they can say they interviewed Americans while the whole time they are employing cheap foreign workers or shipping the jobs offshore.
Wakjob2
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Wakjob2,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 5:04:59 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
Yeah, job searches tend to take longer when you have a massively oversupplied labor force and 30 million people out of work. The solution is to stop oversupplying the labor force - stop importing more foreign workers and send those already here home. After all in 1998 and 2001 that was the original agreement anyway - they would only be here for Y2K and then go home in 2002 when it was over.

A decade later they are not only still here, but they have taken over and are deliberately denying jobs to Americans.
Wakjob2
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Wakjob2,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2013 | 5:02:49 PM
re: IT Talent Shortage Or Purple Squirrel Hunt?
Dino-elites feel threatened by IT and the internet because it's a system of information they can't control and don't understand. Plus we create economic booms that enable people to make a lot of $ and pay off their debt. If you're able to pay cash for cars and houses like in the late 90s then you don't need a LOAN from a bank do you? And since our country is controlled and run by bankers, all American IT workers and high salaries are a threat to the bankers. QED.
<<   <   Page 2 / 9   >   >>
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