March 11, 2009

It’s a Terrible Time to Reject Skilled Workers

Filed under: FYI,US — 7macaw @ 8:32 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

There was an interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Thanks to the Employ American Workers Act (EAWA) it’s become harder for companies getting government support to hire skilled immigrants with H-1B visas.

Supporters say the law will help U.S.-born workers and stimulate our economy, but this is just wrong. The economy is not of fixed size, in which more foreign-born workers necessarily mean fewer U.S. workers. Productive foreign-born workers can help create more jobs here. Keeping them out damages us.

There is also indirect, unforeseen damage that’s beginning to appear in higher education. According to the National Science Foundation, 42% of Ph. D. science and engineering workers in the U.S. today are foreign born..

And where will all these foreign-born students go? To countries whose leaders recognize their job-creation potential and shape policy accordingly. For example, current British immigration policy welcomes an unlimited supply of the world’s best and brightest business minds.


  1. It’s about time somebody recognizes this after all the calls to kick out H1-B’s that I read in the comments. In my company we employ several H1-B. Even after extensive search we could not find Americans who had the qualification. And yes, they are the pillars that other jobs, even those of Americans, rely on.

    Comment by myphotoscout — March 12, 2009 @ 7:36 am | Reply

    • Let me guess.. Web 2.0, DHTML, Ajax, CSS kinda stuff?

      Comment by DF — March 12, 2009 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  2. DF and others –
    Not exactly …
    It is not only for software based work that H1-B visas are hired.
    Have you even heard of fields like Ocean engineering, Naval architecture, genetic engineering, biotechnology, analog design???
    There might be more such fields, I know only these coz I have friends in all the above mentioned fields (all H1-Bs, everyone from prestigious US universities and most of them say that when they were in grad school there was not even a single American in their class).
    All of them work for really rich companies and get 6 figure salaries, 5 figure bonuses and have 4-5 bedroom houses …drive Mercedes/bmw or Audis..
    They didn’t make all these by snatching any American’s job. They are hard working, intelligent and have masters and/or Ph.d’s from prestigious universities.
    Just bashing the H1-B’s or getting jealous won’t get you anywhere.
    Try to make the high-schools better.. the high-school drop out rate is 27% in US …
    The universities are awesome – agreed. But how can you good students if you drop out of high-school?
    That the reason International students fill up the universities and get H1-B’s and get great jobs and make great money.

    The software people on H1-B’s and fraud H1-B’s are just a small percent of the whole pool of H1-B’s.

    Comment by Ashish — March 12, 2009 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

  3. I think most Americans would support H1B visa holders if they were gifted talented folks who come here to work in a position that can’t be filled by an American worker.

    Most Americans though, don’t support H1B visa holders who come here who AREN’T better than an American worker and are just brought over by a company like Tata or Wipro because they replace an American worker for a cheaper price.

    Fix problem #2 and I won’t have any problems with #1. In fact, I would like to see the H1B visa split up so that students from foreign countries who received an advanced degree in an American university can get a job in America after graduation without being counted as an H1B visa holder. Put them on a fast track for a green card if they want one.

    For those who weren’t educated in an American university and don’t offer any skills/talents better than American workers other than that they will work for less should not be allowed to come here.

    For those who weren’t educated in an American university but do offer skills that no American can offer, make sure the company hiring them pays them more than the “prevailing wage”.

    I think both sides of the H1B visas have a point.

    Comment by FedUp — March 12, 2009 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  4. A friend of mine is majoring in computer engineering at a local university – he’s one of the two majors in this field who is not Indian or Chinese.

    So this whole “there are lots of good American engineers” thing is becoming a myth, if it hasn’t already :(

    Comment by Jacob Polushi — March 12, 2009 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

  5. at least for the public universities in California, foreign students get charged a lot more for tuition than legal residents. That’s why these universities like to favor recruiting foreign graduate students over natives for the sake of making money. So lack of qualified American young talents is probably a myth. Also, while these foreigners have good academic records, they are lacking in lot of areas. Leadership? nope. Communication skills? nope. Business Ethic? nope. Innovative? nope. Teamwork? nope.

    Comment by G — March 13, 2009 @ 7:59 am | Reply

    • Leadership – Come on .. what makes u say that .. I and my wife work for major American companies. In both these companies 30-35% of managers are Indians whereas Indians are only 12-15% of the total employees

      Communication Skills – wow.. just coz u guys speak English fluently doesn’t make u great communicators… for gods sake that’s the only language u speak and u started speaking in English from the time u learnt to talk. We learnt that as a second language and still speak it in a grammatically correct way. When I was in B-school, I used to be official editor for our group reports. The “American English” used to be full of fillers and danglers.
      U guys laugh when I use flat, specs, locker – but please understand u will be laughed at for ur gas, glasses, elevator, cash/cheque stuff in Europe.
      There is nothing called perfect english .. Different people speak in different ways.. as long as u get ur message across. That’s is more than enough …

      Business Ethics – oh really? I suppose you haven’t heard about Enron.

      Innovative – What about the recent study by Duke Uty (I think) which says that more than 50% of the patents are held by Internationals..

      Teamwork – u must be kidding Both Indians and Chinese are from a society based on teamwork. Everything is teamwork for them and hence we don’t have to learn teamwork in B-schools – it is something we are born with …

      Comment by Ashish — March 13, 2009 @ 9:27 am | Reply

    • About the tuition fee:
      It is only fair that the internationals are made to pay more because the citizens should have some advantage over the foreigners.
      (And just imagine the hue and cry from people like u had the tuition fee been the same).

      Anyways no university can fill up its seats with international students so that they can make more money.
      They have a fixed percentage and under no reason can the cross that percentage of international students.
      (Incases where there is no American student is there in the class is because no American student applied who was eligible as per the school criterion)
      Also, the competition levels are different. For example – An Indian has to have a GMAT score of 720+ to get in to a top B-school.
      At the same time, an American can get in the same school with score of 600+.
      No issues, which is the way it should be. After all this is their country.

      Comments like international students pay more tuition fee and hence they are indirectly snatching school seats from Americans is something which is not true and which is undermining our hard work and intellect. We don’t get admissions because we pay more money.
      We are better than most of the class and we compete with the international pool of candidates and not the general American student.
      (Told to me by one the B-school directors during a feedback session)

      Courses like Ph.D takes 5-6 years of dedicated effort and hardwork…
      ½ the Americans are high-school dropouts and are flipping burgers.
      Rest get great jobs even with a undergrad degree. So no one bothers to do masters of Ph.D

      Comment by Ashish — March 13, 2009 @ 9:58 am | Reply

  6. #5 “lack of qualified American young talents is probably a myth”

    Well, various Business-Schmisness classes are full of Americans. It would seem that there’s lack of either motivation or desire to go into science/engineering. Does it mean that with proper motivation American young would major in science or there’s really no talent? I don’t know, but when I browsed through Math textbooks at a local B&N, I became rather sad.

    Comment by Jacob Polushi — March 13, 2009 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  7. My brother in law has a PhD in computer engineering and used to design mother boards for HP. He gave that up because their simply were not any positions available that would allow him to both live and pay off his student aid loans. So he went back to school and is now a lawyer specializing in patent law.
    A US education is FAR more expensive than one earned in India. It is not a fair playing field to assert that the US is not producing enough people with degrees in sciences. US students are able to do simple math and realize they cannot afford to get that education in the US and compete with people willing to work for a fraction of the cost.

    Comment by Eric Denton — March 16, 2009 @ 8:03 am | Reply

  8. This little dandy tells the tale in 1:26 – Please watch it for the “guest worker” bottom line.

    America’s Bogus Skilled Labor Shortage –

    Comment by itprousa — March 17, 2009 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

  9. I don’t think the question about who is better really has anything to do with the problem of limiting H1 visas — Suppose all countries produce the same number of college graduates. Some portion of those (10%) are the best. For at least two decades, the US has benefited from the best students, from the best schools, from all over the world. SO, if the US education only graduated 50,000 top students per year, we imported at least 100,000 more per year. It is in our (being a US citizen) best interest to bring in the best students especially if other countries are willing to give them up so easily. Unfortunately, I don’t think this trend will continue.

    Comment by Garrett — March 25, 2009 @ 11:32 am | Reply

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