Microsoft's thoughtful plan on jobs, immigration and H-1B visa permits
Microsoft has a promising plan to break the logjam in Congress over immigration reform, at least in the high-skills arena. The software company proposes Congress expand by 20,000 the number of H-1B visa permits companies use to bring overseas hires to the U.S. The increase would be targeted to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs.
That greatly helps Microsoft which currently has 6,000 job openings - more than half of which require technolology and science skils. But it also addresses a skills shortage faced by many companies beyond the technology industry. This Seattle Times editorial pointed to the widening gap between available jobs and the skill levels of job seekers as an urgent problem. This Brookings Institution study drilled into the education gap.
Microsoft is not simply trying to solve the immediate worker shortage.The software company proposes boosting the H-1B visa fee to $10,000 to raise money for a STEM-version of the Race to the Top federal grant program spurring education reform in schools. Race to the Future would pay for efforts such as hiring STEM teachers and adding computer science classes in high schools.
The plan was oulined onThursday at an event in Washington, D.C. at the Brookings Institution, Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Microsoft, outlined the plan Thursday in Washington, D.C.
In addition to the 20,000 extra H-1B visa permits, Microsoft proposes freeing up 20,000 green cards specifically for STEM employees. That begins to tackle the huge backlog in green cards and keeps skilled workers here contributing to our industries and our economy.
Congress has been paralyzed on immigration reform. This is not a comprehensive solution but it outlines one of the many paths we'll likely have to take to get there.
The skilled worker shortage is not going to improve on its own. The problem will grow worse and it will be felt in every sector, from retail to healthcare, because nearly all industries now depend on computer technology. What are you seeing in your industry and how does that inform your opinion about Microsoft's proposal?
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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