Industry Group: More STEM Grads, But H-1B Reform, Too

Technology titans from Dell to Qualcomm — as well as non-tech brands like Goldman Sachs, Cummins and CVS Caremark — say they need foreign workers if they’re going to keep their businesses on track. But at least some of them see guest-worker programs as a short-term fix. Ultimately, they’re more interested in increasing the number of STEM students graduating from American universities, says Bruce Mehlman, executive director of the Technology CEO Council, an IT industry public-policy group.

TCC LogoMehlman recently spoke with us about the TCC’s view on H-1B visas and STEM green cards.

Does the TCC believe there aren’t enough H-1B workers in the U.S.?

The council’s first priority isn’t hiring H-1B workers, but increasing the number of students in STEM fields who are seeking their Ph.D. or master’s degree.

Do you care if these STEM grads are U.S. citizens or foreign born?

First choice is having more American kids interested in pursuing STEM degrees, but our economy and universities are strongest when they pull smart students from all around the world.

The Special Report:

When a foreign graduate from Stanford or MIT returns to their native country, a U.S. company may seek a way to bring them back to America. Wouldn’t the TCC care about expanding the H-1B program then?

When a Stanford or MIT grad returns to their native country, they get hired and innovate over there. We’d prefer them to innovate and pay taxes over here, since it makes our home country stronger. But when companies can’t hire those top-tier grads in the United States, they hire them wherever they return to live.

Speaking of Stanford and MIT, will companies bypass graduates from state colleges in favor of foreign-born students from top-tier universities? 

Companies will look for whoever they perceive is the most capable worker to do the job.

Are you focusing on increasing STEM programs in the nation’s high schools and middle schools, or on policy reform such as increasing green cards for STEM grads?

While lobbying efforts in Washington focus on the policy barriers, there are far more significant educational efforts undertaken by all of our companies, and others like ours, in local communities through foundations and non-profits.

So do you support the H-1B program as it is right now, or would you like to see reforms there as well?

The H-1B program could be improved, both in giving greater flexibility for spouses and for workers looking to change jobs. Plus, it could be improved with numbers that better reflect the state of the economy.

Comments

  1. BY RobS says:

    Gotta love those “straightforward” answers:
    “Does the TCC believe there aren’t enough H-1B workers in the U.S.?

    The council’s first priority isn’t hiring H-1B workers, but increasing the number of students in STEM fields who are seeking their Ph.D. or master’s degree.”

    So does it believe there aren’t enough H-1B workers? Since it’s opinion, it seems like a simple enough question to answer. Instead we get the usual politics of bait-and-switch, leaving the rest of their answers suspect. Oh well: politics as usual.

    • BY Me again says:

      If you want to increase the number of students seeking a PhD or masters (there are few computer jobs were these aren’t anymore than useless credentials), you need to focus on increasing the ROI for those degrees and providing work opportunities for those getting the higher degrees (which is were you really learn your job as school just provides the framework, at best), not try to reduce the ROI by bringing in H1-B workers. Further, many people entering the computer field end up going for their masters or piled high and deep simply because being called an unemployed loser is worse than being called a professional student.

  2. BY todd says:

    “…students in STEM fields who are seeking their Ph.D. or master’s degree”

    Which is quite silly, you don’t need a PH.D to do 99% of tech jobs, it’s a ridiculous proposition to say that people that 20 years of experience building software suddenly need 4 more years of education in arcane and often useless sub-specialized fields of study.

    I also noted they didn’t answer the question, because of course it’s a cost to benefit thing, if they can save 40% of labor then who cares if they displace American workers.

    This will end up biting us in the azz, but politicians are being paid off, and stock prices are going up so everyone is happy, everyone that they think counts anyway.

  3. BY Garry Hurley Jr says:

    Since, again, ZDNet has provided a reference to a valuable group of IT professionals without linking to their website or providing any information on them, I thought I would provide a link to the Programmers’ Guild website so that others could actually petition to join if they agreed with the organization’s mandates. You really need to provide such information to people so that they can determine whether membership is something that will guarantee their futures. I am reviewing the organization now and will likely join. ‘Over 1,000′ is not a significant number to Congress, but ‘Over 100,000′ is starting to make them take notice. Let’s try to swell the bargaining power of an organization that stands up for our rights. http://www.programmersguild.org/

    Also, you might try writing your congressman at http://www.congress.org and seeing how much the elected official wants to get re-elected. When there is a chance to meet with your representative for a breakfast, lunch, or other meeting, take it. Get your voice heard. Stand up and tell them that you are tired of being ignored. (By the way, my next opportunity to do that is going to be a breakfast for veterans, of which I will take full advantage and speak as loudly as possible when conversing with the Congressman to incite other veterans near me to add their support to my words.)

    • BY RobS says:

      ” ‘Over 1,000′ is not a significant number to Congress, but ‘Over 100,000′ is starting to make them take notice”
      Thanks for the link Garry. I was thinking the same thing about the above comment and the fact that there was no link supplied.

    • BY ted says:

      Another useful link , where you can sign up to fax Congress for free, is
      http://www.numbersusa.com

      The H!B provisions are just part of what is wrong with this immigration bill.

      Feel free to copy my usual PS on the faxes – NO AMNESTY; NO H1Bs.

  4. BY David Penney says:

    Dawn,

    I suggest you also include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)- USA in your report. They are much larger than the Programmer’s Guild and represent the largest body of professional engineers in the country.

    The IEEE-USA has “asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject admendments to the comprehensive immigration bill that would increase H-1B temporary visa numbers, weaken safeguards for US and foreign workers and facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs.”

  5. BY Michael says:

    These companies just don’t get it, or don’t want to. The reason the number of STEM graduates born in the US may be falling or not keeping up is because they’re turning what used to be a professional career into general labor. I wouldn’t tell my kids to go into engineering – the career is nothing like what it was when I started out with companies treating people like expendable commodities. All these visa programs do is allow that culture to perpetuate.

  6. BY TR says:

    I agree with something Discover Magazine said last year: we don’t need more “STEM graduates.” We need more innovators and creators, people who can think, design and make things.

  7. BY Joe Blocks says:

    When you get an article by s Dice.com writer starting out ‘Myth: h1Bs take jobs from US workers, Fact:H1Bs supplement the existing US workforce” or words to that effect, you know where Dice stands on the issue. The more H1Bs and the agencies that run them the better.

    • BY ted says:

      Yea, its real easy to see where they stand. What gets me is they really think the immigration bill is going to become law. I can’t see this getting anywhere in the House, but I will be fighting it however I can. NO AMNESTY; NO H1Bs.

  8. BY Paul Davis says:

    A quick overview of how H1B recruiting has been “managed” to replace US workers. Watch this seminar segment and come back with your mind opened.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU

    Illegal? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But certainly not the “Oh, we never replace a US worker for lower wages” drone we hear constantly.

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