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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers 441

theodp writes Following up on news that the White House met with big biz on immigration earlier this month, Bloomberg sat down with Joe Green, the head of Mark Zuckerberg's Fwd.US PAC, to discuss possible executive actions President Obama might take on high tech immigration (video) in September. "Hey, Joe," asked interviewer Alix Steel. "All we keep hearing about this earnings season though from big tech is how they're actually cutting jobs. If you look at Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, why do the tech companies then need more tech visas?" Green explained why tech may not want to settle for laid-off U.S. talent when the world is its oyster. "The difference between someone who's truly great and just sort of okay is really huge," Green said. "Culture in tech is a very meritocratic culture," he added. "The vast, vast majority of tech engineers that I talked to who are from the United States are very supportive of bringing in people from other countries because they want to work with the very best."
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

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  • by ryanmc1 ( 682957 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:34AM (#47729129) Homepage
    Here is a study that was done a long time ago (1985). Skip down to section 5. It states that the most productive engineers were given 78 sqft of dedicated floor space, thought of there environment as quiet, private, and could silence or divert calls, were not interrupted, and thought they were appreciated. Skill had nothing to do with whether the engineer could finish the project they were assigned. http://teaching.davearnold.ca/... [davearnold.ca]

    Maybe tech companies need to develop culture that encourages good engineers rather than hiring foreign workers.
  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:40AM (#47729191)

    Then your company is breaking the law and you should report them. Companies are required to pay above the prevailing wage for the position and region. We paid both of our H1B workers well above average for our staff and when they worked out sponsored their green cards (and boy is that process a cluster!), we're the kind of employer that the program was actually designed for, we were looking for extremely rare talent sets and had advertised the positions for months before looking abroad. I have to say that I have much bigger problems with the screwups in the green card program than I do with the H1B system, permanently bringing smart people from abroad raises the GDP of the US and brings diversity to the country.

  • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:44AM (#47729245)

    As a tech worker myself, I don't see why foreign workers would be inherently worse. I mean I've seen some people, very much home grown, who seem to have such a poor grasp of how things work that I wonder how on earth they even have a job.

  • Response Bias (Score:5, Interesting)

    by meustrus ( 1588597 ) <meustrus.gmail@com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:48AM (#47729277)

    "The vast, vast majority of tech engineers that I talked to who are from the United States are very supportive of bringing in people from other countries because they want to work with the very best."

    I guarantee you that "the vast, vast majority of tech engineers" would not assume that "other countries" automatically meant "the very best". The general consensus in my neck of the woods is that engineers of foreign origin are about on par with our native engineers. The consensus I've seen in pop culture is that the foreign engineers are generally much worse. I can only imagine the question that would lead to the response above:

    Q: If faced with a choice between a top foreign engineer or a mediocre American one, which would you hire?

    A: The foreign one. I'd want to work with the very best.

  • by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:48AM (#47729279)

    I guess I have karma to burn.

    I have no problem with the many talented Indian and Chinese engineers and programmers I worked with at my last job. Most of them were excellent. That job was a pretty high-tech joint that didn't just employ software people, but also hardware, RF, scientists, etc.

    It was strange when I came to my current job that the Indian programmers applying for jobs here were CLEARLY underskilled hacks, with recruiter-edited false resumes. This place is basically a web shop with a database backed product. Some interesting problems, but nothing like the last one. The guys here couldn't even relate to what I was telling them about the highly talented Indian and Chinese programmers at my last place.

    I was once asked point blank, by a union employee of the public school system, "What do you think of the immigrants coming and taking your jobs and lowering your salary. My honest response was, "Without the kind of talent the people I'm working with bring to this country, my company wouldn't exist."

    I'm not saying there aren't obvious profound flaws with the rest of what the tool in this article is saying, but I will admit that I am perfectly willing to invite top talent to this country if it means businesses operate here. That's hugely different from the 95% of trade school hacks who account for most of the visas, but I'm still happy to welcome those 5% (or 1%, or whatever).

  • by knightghost ( 861069 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:07AM (#47729503)

    Green is a big fat liar. "The Best" account for less than 10k a year - across all disciplines. Cut all other visas then give these people green cards then citizenship.

    75% of STEM workers leave the field due to substandard conditions. There isn't a recruiting problem, there is a retention problem.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:12AM (#47729561)

    >> Well, that must then mean that schools abroad are better than schools in the US

    I am a Brit now living in the US, and have a young son. Honestly my own (fairly average) school education in England makes that provided to him by public schools in the US look _very_ poor and low quality by comparison.

    I'm sure you made your comment with some degree of self-evident sarcasm intended, but based on what I have seen first-hand I'd be very surprised if there actually isn't a lot of truth in it, especially in comparison to many EU countries.

  • by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @12:37PM (#47731131)

    "What do you think of the immigrants coming and taking your jobs and lowering your salary. My honest response was, "Without the kind of talent the people I'm working with bring to this country, my company wouldn't exist."

    Wait.... you understand that "most of the visas" are "trade school hacks", "clearly underskilled", with "false resumes". That most of this program is just to undercut the local employees. You are fully cognizant of this.... and when someone asked you what you thought about that... you ignored the question and how themajority of the system operates, and focused on how well the system worked for your company.


    Yeah, you pretty much nailed it, honestly. I've got about 20 years work experience today. At the time I was asked (not quite 10 years ago), I was pretty lucky to have worked at shops where we had mostly good talent, and there really weren't enough trade school hacks for me to recognize the larger pattern.

    As a tangent, why aren't you working for the high-tech joint anymore? Did they replace you with an Indian PHD and force you to move down into the trenches of web-dev? What do you think of that?

    No, while you nailed the first part, you got this 100% wrong. I'm thankful to have worked with the talented people I did, and I left voluntarily. I left because I was moving back to a regulated product from an unregulated one, and I felt my skills withering when I worked on the regulated stuff because 80% or more of my time was in meetings getting documents approved and very little time coding. I am in fact a full-stack web dev now and though I miss working on high tech, I realize that I have broader employability in my geographic region in case my current employment stint doesn't work out. I do miss the awesome test lab and "gee whiz" factor sometimes, but I'm WAYYYY better at actually writing code, because I do it almost all day, almost every day.

  • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @02:29PM (#47732133)

    Sad to say, but you've hit the nail on the head. If someone can do the same amount of work for less, then that's a benefit to both the employer, as well as the customers of the business, because it means higher productivity, and ultimately lower prices.

    That being said, there's a *huge* range in capability in the tech industry that simply isn't effectively accounted for by salary scales - there are literally some people who can do things twenty times as fast as someone else, but no company I've ever been in has a salary range that varies by that much, even considering junior programmers compared to senior consultant/specialists.

    I'm sure that anyone in tech has had the general experience that the vast majority of the work funnels through a small minority of the workforce - the distribution of talent is hugely imbalanced, but the salary scales don't reflect that.

Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine. -- Andy Warhol