gregbo (gregbo) wrote,
gregbo
gregbo

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Mr. Bock Goes to Washington

You've read my complaints about the H1-B visa program – how it both overlooks the many computer professionals who've been laid off, and how it "indentures" the visa holders, subjecting them to unfavorable work conditions. Last week, Google made its pitch for lifting the visa cap. The speech, delivered by Laszlo Bock (VP, People Operations), will surely evoke emotional responses. People were (and will be) moved by the testimonials of Google employees and/or their families fleeing dictatorships to study in the US and eventually develop products and services for Google.

This might very well be the death knell for the American computer professional. (OK, I'm being melodramatic.) But seriously, large companies who have the financial resources to (re)train talented individuals who are unlucky to be out of work are instead lobbying the US Congress to lift the H1-B visa caps, or do away with them altogether. With testimony like this, and no counter-testimony (e.g. Norm Matloff's research), Congress won't have enough information to make an informed decision.

I happen to agree with John Kerry that if immigration is to continue to put qualified Americans out of work, Americans shouldn't have to finance it. (He argued this in the 2004 presidential debates.) I also think the companies should have to prove (rather than just claim) that there aren't any Americans available to do the jobs they claim they need the immigrants for. For example, they say there are fewer people getting advanced degrees in the sciences and engineering; what about the people who are out of work now who earned these degrees a few years ago? They need to document how their efforts to recruit said candidates have failed; perhaps Congress should be informed of how disorganized some recruitment programs are. They also need to consider why interest in the sciences and engineering is declining; why would someone pursue a career that is highly stressful and risky instead of something more secure? (Assuming career security is their #1 priority.) If the computer industry has created circumstances that cause it to be less appealing to students, it should fix its own problems, rather than expecting the US government to bail it out.
Tags: career
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