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Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers

Microsoft says it has 34% more open engineering positions than this time last year, and can't fill them all domestically.

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Microsoft officials this week defended their call for a program that would let companies pay to import foreign programmers and other high-tech workers.

"Every year the economy is requiring another 120,000 people with a computer science degree," said Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith, in response to a question at the company's annual shareholder meeting.

"Right now, if you take all of the great, or not so great, all of the universities across the country, they're only producing 40,000 computer science graduates each year," Smith said Wednesday, in Bellevue, Wash.

Smith was responding to a shareholder who said Microsoft shouldn't be seeking to import high-tech help at a time when so many Americans are unemployed. The questioner said he knew numerous individuals in their 50s who, despite advanced computer science degrees from MIT and other prestigious schools, can't get work.

[ Which U.S. companies hire the most H-1B workers? Read Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List. ]

Smith said that, although some individuals might fall through the cracks, overall there is a shortage of tech workers in the U.S. "The answer is for any specific individual there may be some specific circumstance that explains a specific result in their life. But when we look at the numbers today, the numbers don't lie," said Smith.

Smith said Microsoft currently has more than 6,000 open jobs, up 19% from a year ago. In engineering alone, the company has 3,400 open positions, up 34% from last year. "We'd like to fill them here," said Smith, adding that it's difficult for Microsoft and other U.S. companies to find all the talent they need domestically.

Smith recently 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.

Sure to fuel the debate over whether the U.S. needs to import more high-tech workers is a report released Friday by the Partnership for A New American Economy.

The lobby group said the unemployment rate for tech workers in the U.S. is just 3.15%, compared to around 8% for all workers. "Given that the U.S. government has defined 'full employment' to be 4 percent, this suggests a skills shortage of STEM professionals with advanced degrees," the group said in the report, titled "Help Wanted."

Groups that represent U.S.-born tech workers, such as The Programmers Guild, have argued that programs like H-1B allow American companies to import cheap labor at the expense of homegrown talent.

On Friday, the House approved a bill that would make 55,000 new green cards available to foreign-born graduates of advanced U.S. STEM programs.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)

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jleone940
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jleone940,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2012 | 4:05:01 PM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
The reality of our times in Silicon Valley, even rookie police officers make 90,000/year + (excellent benefits) + (a lifetime pension).

I know Brad Smith balks at having to pay workers 100k a year, but that is just an average wage needed to live and work in most hi-tech hubs. The reality is that workers in demand should be making 150k to 250k. If you look at professions that are really in high demand, Medical Care, that is exactly where the salaries are (or even north of this).

Microsoft earns more than 250,000$/year in profit, per employee. No doubt, engineers add an even bigger amount of profit to the bottom-line, being at the center of new (therefore premium) product development.

It's time for Microsoft and the other tech companies, to stop crying to the government for handout. Shut-up and learn to actually compete in the market for workers.
SnoopDoug
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SnoopDoug,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 8:00:57 PM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
I look at this issue as a typical example of the corporate America mindset--lazy, cheap, and short-sighted. They have no interest in the long-term. They know that if they hire an H1B, that person is indentured to them and they can abuse them at will. They do not see the loss of experience when that H1B leaves as a loss of corporate wisdom.

Would Gates have a hope in h*ll of being hired at Microsoft today? Not a chance.
Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 6:28:31 PM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
Hi Tech,

Actually we do allow comments with URLs to be posted, but we screen them first in order to curtail the spammers. You'll see your comment with the URL is up now.

Best,
Tom LaSusa
Community Manager
hoapres
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hoapres,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 6:16:31 AM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
The superbright don't have the patience to deal with Google. UNLESS Google comes to you then don't bother.

I don't have the patience to put up with the nonsense of a Google job interview.
jleone940
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jleone940,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2012 | 12:04:22 AM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers


This is what makes the case so ironic. This guy was an expert at machine intelligence. This is a guy that Google could use in several areas, that involve identifying and tagging raw data (like from images, or audio...).

The other company was, which was not as profitable (per employee) as Google, but still very profitable, was more than willing to pay this guy 220,000$/Year. But Google's hiring process is glacial, and when they finally offered they were under what this guy was offered by a competing company (by 90,000$/Year).

Yes, it is hard to get to 220,000$/Year. But the truth is, and Google knows this, efficient and capable engineers are worth several hundred thousand dollars year. And infinitely more than the trainees we bring in on an H-1b. The problem with Google, is that there shareholders have become used to a certain profit expectation, which is way out of line with the reality of the industry.

350,000$/year in profit per employee, and they can't shell out 90k more to hire an exceptional engineer. Ridiculous. This guys is worth several million, and the company that hired him knows this. Google is incapable of actually competing against other companies for workers, not because they can't afford to, but that their culture (which is the sum of the thinking of their stockholder, board members, and executives) is incapable of thinking outside the box (they have painted themselves into) when it comes to hiring.
jleone940
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jleone940,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2012 | 12:03:51 AM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
This is what makes the case so ironic. This guy was an expert at machine intelligence. This is a guy that Google could use in several areas, that involve identifying and tagging raw data (like from images, or audio...).

The other company was, which was not as profitable (per employee) as Google, but still very profitable, was more than willing to pay this guy 220,000$/Year. But Google's hiring process is glacial, and when they finally offered they were under what this guy was offered by a competing company (by 90,000$/Year).

Yes, it is hard to get to 220,000$/Year. But the truth is, and Google knows this, efficient and capable engineers are worth several hundred thousand dollars year. And infinitely more than the trainees we bring in on an H-1b. The problem with Google, is that there shareholders have become used to a certain profit expectation, which is way out of line with the reality of the industry.

350,000$/year in profit per employee, and they can't shell out 90k more to hire an exceptional engineer. Ridiculous. This guys is worth several million, and the company that hired him knows this. Google is incapable of actually competing against other companies for workers, not because they can't afford to, but that their culture (which is the sum of the thinking of their stockholder, board members, and executives) is incapable of thinking outside the box (they have painted themselves into) when it comes to hiring.
hoapres
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hoapres,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 9:07:05 PM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
It's pretty hard to get $220K in Silicon Valley.
jleone940
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jleone940,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 4:40:43 PM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
With Microsoft earning 250,000$/Year in profit per employee, you'd think the company would actually try offering a competitive wage. Companies such as Microsoft have grown weak, and are unable to compete for workers (or pay to train new ones), because of profit obsession.

And the truth is they don't even want to pay a U.S. living wage.

We know why Microsoft needs more H-1bs, it's because Microsoft needs liasons for a huge off-shoring operation, in India, where engineers are payed about one-twentieth what U.S. engineers are paid. It is well known that native Indian liasons are needed between U.S. project-managers/designers and Indian offshore development groups. Further, Indian nationals in the U.S., have a strong tendency to hire only other Indian nationals.

Microsoft doesn't care because it feeds the bottom-line.

Microsoft has repeatedly been asked, but never provided, details of its hiring under H-1b, or its details of who is laid off, during the several Massive layoffs that it has had over the last 15 years. Despite repeated, public, requests for such information by Administration officers and elected Senators and Congressmen.

A clear example of the loss of the ability to compete for workers is illustrated in this true case that recently occured at Google. Keep in mind that Google earns more than 350,00$/Year in profit per employee.

Google recently acquired Meebo. All software engineers at Meebo were put on a probation, subject layoff at anytime. One engineer, I know, was given a chance to interview for a permanent position at Google. That engineer passed all of the interviews, and the decision to hire him was routed to Google's hiring commitee. This process took weeks, and the engineer, fearing for his career decided to seek work outside of Google. The engineer recieved an offer for 220,000$/year from another tech company with a well established franchise. Google's commitee did, finally (upon learning that the engineer was leaving), give the engineer an offer for 130,000$/year, he refused that offer and is now making what it takes to live and have a family in Silicon Valley.

You can see why these companies are losing workers, it is because they actively refuse to compete for workers, even in spite of massive, conspicuous, ridiculous, profits. And they use every means to keep the competition out of the market, including hiring indentured servants, from a program of corporate-welfare, in order to move operations to environments where they don't have to actually compete for workers.
ANON1241882670343
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ANON1241882670343,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 3:22:46 PM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
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?

bdilbert980
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bdilbert980,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2012 | 7:16:13 AM
re: Microsoft Defends Hiring Foreign Workers
The STEM Jobs Bill of 2012 that passed the House today grants 55,000 green cards to foreign STEM students in US colleges G㢠and simultaneously eliminates the Diversity Visa Program and 55,000 Green Cards for immigrants from underrepresented countries.

The bill discriminates against Americans and immigrants from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. It deprives Americans and non-India immigrants an equal opportunity to achieve their own American Dream. It reduces classroom seats, dorm space, financial aid for students, and a fair chance for American citizens to compete for jobs in our own country.

The mythical skills shortage is the big lie. There is NO shortage of American talent more than ready, willing, and able to fill these jobs and take our country forward.

Why canGăÍt Silcon Valley and Microsoft find skilled talent? Because they donGăÍt want to.

Since Microsoft bought the high tech immigration visa law (H-1b), they (and other high tech companies) are not legally required to ever consider Americans for American jobs.

If thereGăÍs a tech skills shortage, then WHY.
GăˇDid Microsoft layoff 5,000 Americans, and hire 5000+ foreign guest worker replacements?
GăˇWhy won't MS call recruit the employees they laid off BEFORE hiring more foreign visa workers?

Make no mistake, this high tech company strategy has nothing to do with a mythical labor shortage and everything to do with corporate greed and labor arbitrage.
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