- United States
The issue of skilled immigrants, the H-1B visas, and the current preferences of students in the United States (US) were the main focus of the conference organized by Microsoft with representations from industry and policy leaders on Wednesday morning August 1st, 2012.
The leaders and entrepreneurs discussed the various tendencies of the students who are United States citizens. The discussion involved the issue of current preference of American students of non- Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. The groups also discussed the cases when the students did choose the STEM courses but after graduating preferred applying for non-STEM occupations. This phenomenon, which is generally known as ‘diversion’ was of particular interest in the conference.
Another point of concern was the general perception in the American society that the immigrant working class is reducing the number of available jobs for the native-born American in the United States. The issue, although treated as paranoia by some analysts, is found in abundance throughout the society. The meeting agenda also included the student loan debt facility and how it affects the students.
Question like these were part of the agenda of the meeting. The participants of the meeting discussed the various changes occurring in the professional workforce due to the current economic condition of the country and the ongoing political frenzy pre-occupying most of Americans with elections.
Georgetown University professor Nicole Smith said the issue of the sudden shift in the STEM workforce that is taking place in the American society is “not necessarily a zero sum game”. Smith said that the current situation is somewhat opposite of what usually happened, stating that a native born American’s vacated engineer position doesn’t necessarily find an East Asian software engineer in it. But still the fact remains that the present attitude of American students is increasing the local demand for foreign professionals.
Executive director of STEM ED coalition James Brown also commented on the situation saying that immigration and ethnicity is the least of concerns between companies when it comes to shortage of talented workforce. “When it comes to war for talent, it isn’t nation versus nation, but company versus company,” Brown said.
The student loan debt program might be helping the students in getting into the universities but is also increasing the overall burden on the students, Brown said. “We haven’t really said ‘What field are you going into?’ before rolling out the loan paperwork,” said brown. Brown also emphasized the need for higher education institutions to be more straightforward and forthcoming with the students regarding the consequence of the student’s choice of academic interest.
Microsoft vice president of immigration policy Karen Jones said the US immigration has to widen up its scope on skilled immigrant related immigration policies. Jones said that United States should not just remain static on its current situation while other countries of the world keep on enhancing their immigration policies to encourage foreign trained professionals. Jones also accused the US congress of not doing enough to ease the burden on the economy of the country.
In a list issued in a Brookings Institution report released in July, Microsoft ranked at the top in demand for the H-1B visas. Second came a Mumbai based Tata consultancy services company. Deloitte consulting ranked on the third place. Reports like these show how much the American economy and workforce marketing is suffering from shortage of skilled labor. Until the US immigration department and the US government don’t take serious notice of the situation and decide a timely and appropriate initiative, the situation will continue to get worse.
Tags: H- 1B visas, Immigration, immigration policies, Microsoft vice president of immigration policy Karen Jones, skilled immigrants in US, United States, US Immigration