The most heated and partisan debate in technology is about to begin… again. Yes, we are firmly in H-1B season. On April 1, 2008, the U.S. will begin accepting petitions for temporary foreign worker visas and, if history is any guide, will be overrun by applicants within mere hours. It’s a time of mixed feelings in IT, as American workers are reminded of their job insecurity while foreign IT workers clamor for a chance to monetize their skills in the United States.
As if H-1B season needed even more drama, Microsoft’s Bill Gates is set to go before the House of Representatives next week to make what is becoming a perennial plea for the U.S. to allow in more H-1B workers. Microsoft employs thousands of such workers, so there is plenty of self-interest in play, but Gates will claim — once more — that there is a shortage of IT workers in America, and that raising the H-1B cap (over and above the current regular limit of 65,000) will allow this country to keep the tech lights on.
Last year, we heard anecdotes about American SAP specialists being locked out of work in favor of H-1B counterparts from India. This year, we’ll be keeping a close eye on H-1B developments and how they impact both American and foreign SAP specialists.
A good way to begin this discussion is to look over Bill Gates’ December 2007 article, “America’s Brain Gain.” These are some of the claims Gates made:
- “Today, the nation’s need for graduates in science and engineering far exceeds the supply.”
- “America’s immigration policies are increasingly driving away the world’s top talent and consequently forcing U.S. companies to expand overseas. This is having an adverse impact on U.S. competitiveness and on domestic growth in the technology industry.”
- “Congress can…focus on comprehensive immigration reform, and on redoubling efforts to improve education and expand U.S. output of scientists and engineers, so that Microsoft and other U.S. companies can hire even more Americans.”
- “Meanwhile, Congressional action is needed now to prevent the current shortage of highly skilled workers from resolving itself – through a job-killing economic slowdown caused by a loss of U.S. competitiveness.”
What do you SAP people think? Is Gates right or wrong? What are your perspectives?
Demir Barlas, Site Editor