February 9, 2019
No lack of skilled American tech workers
Americans don’t usually think of technical professionals as “guest workers,” yet at any one time, there are more than a half-million foreigners holding tech jobs in the U.S. They are here thanks to the H-1B visa program. H-1B, so the official spiel goes, addresses an alleged shortage of “highly skilled” Americans to fill jobs “requiring specialized knowledge.”
Growing evidence, however, points to companies using the program to replace perfectly qualified American workers with cheaper ones from elsewhere. A new report published by the Atlantic Council documents the abuses. The authors are Ron Hira, a political scientist at Howard University, and Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.
Among their criticisms:
• Virtually any white-collar job can be taken by an H-1B visa holder. About 70 percent of them are held not by what we consider tech workers but by teachers, accountants and salespeople, among others.
“By every objective measure,” Hira and Gopalaswamy write, “most H-1B workers have no more than ordinary skills, skills that are abundantly available in the U.S. labor market.”
U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students in engineering and in computer and information science than are hired in those fields every year, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.
Cutting labor costs is clearly the paramount “need.” In Silicon Valley, computer systems analysts make on average just over $116,000 a year. But companies can hire H-1B workers at a lower skill level, paying them only about $77,000 a year to do the same work, the report says.
And it’s not unheard-of for companies to ask American workers to train the H-1B workers taking their jobs. “60 Minutes” featured Robert Harrison, a senior telecom engineer at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. Asked whether training his replacement felt like digging his own grave, Harrison responded:
Why does this program continue without serious reform? Mainly because its big boosters include such marquee tech names as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Eric Schmidt. Big Tech has showered think tanks with funding to brainwash Americans into believing that their country is starving for tech expertise. Read the rest here.