Anyone who's ever worked in IT knows tons of skilled, experienced and unemployed programmers who can't find work - while companies are crying they can't fill jobs. This has been going on for a really long time, and during a time when American jobs are so badly needed, politicians shouldn't be helping them with this shell game:
What IT labor shortage? That's what reps for unemployed programmers and other IT workers are asking in response to Microsoft's claim that it needs to import more foreign help because the United States isn't producing enough individuals with the high-tech skills it needs.
Workers' advocates say that if big tech companies are having a tough time finding qualified employees it's only because they are limiting their searches to younger, less expensive workers.
"Experienced IT workers who are over 40 years old have a hard time even getting noticed by companies like Microsoft," said Rennie Sawade, communications director for WashTech, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America. "They're really after the younger, more inexpensive workers."
Sawade also rejects claims by Microsoft and other high-tech employers that more experienced IT workers are not getting hired because they lack skills in hot new areas like cloud and mobility. "I doubt the ones they are bringing over on H-1B visas necessarily have those skills. They give them a three-week crash course and then call them a Java programmer."
Sawade's comments come on the heels of controversial testimony that Microsoft senior counsel Brad Smith gave last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on immigration, refugees, and border security. Smith said the software maker has thousands of open positions going unfilled. "Filling our talent need remains a serious challenge," said Smith.
As of May, Microsoft had 4,551 job openings--including 2,629 computer science positions--but it's taking the company up to 65 days on average to find qualified workers for open spots, Smith said.
Smith argued that, until more Americans are available to fill high-tech jobs, U.S. immigration policies need to be relaxed to make it easier for companies like Microsoft to import workers from tech hot spots like India and China to fill the gap. "Our continued ability to help fuel the American economy depends heavily on continued access to the best possible talent. This cannot be achieved, and certainly not in the near term, exclusively through educational improvements to 'skill up' the American workforce."