So, you can't find a highly trained worker and bring in a skilled immigrant. You're not doing any harm to the economy are you as no local resident was suitable? Well, yes, the problem here is that it means the company is avoiding investing in skills in the native work-force. Mostly, this is a way to avoid paying for training or paying the going rate for someone of that skill.
The more complex problem is when you have a job going but the skill set is so low or the job too menial that none of the locals are willing to do it? There's no shortage of under-qualified people who are only capable of the most menial work. Perhaps the problem is that the cost of living is too high and state aid so generous that no residents can afford to do the job?
realistically these aren't the responsibility of the company, HOWEVER the issue wasn't that they couldn't find a skilled worker who was resident, it's that they didn't want one. It pretty much screams "exploiting migrant workers" and "discriminating against permanent residents"
also note that this wasn't about immigrants (who _are_ part of the native work force) but about visa holders
Good economics, bad karma
The problem is that these companies love to spout "market forces" when it suits them, but when "market forces" requires them to treat their employees with respect, pay them a decent wage and basically provide a work place environment that is sufficiently attractive to retain those employees then all of a sudden the mantra of "market forces" goes out the window.
What they want now is to employ desperate people who they can subsequently pay less, respect less and basically treat them like shit, all with the knowledge that they can't go elsewhere to work because their H1B visa won't allow it.
What they want is only one step up from indentured servitude.
These companies and their management need to be rubbed out, but we're gonna need a mighty big rubber I'm afraid.
Kudos to the writer of this article, it truly invokes feeling in others. My feeling on this matter is quite simple, I am an American citizen, and I am a highly skilled (at my own personal and financial expense) developer and software architect. I support the bias that h1-b workers tend to work harder than a majority of their counter-parts, and that they cost less and that it is much harder for them to leave a company that is sponsoring them.
I have been looking for a job for the last three weeks, at a rate that should be reasonable for my 12+ years of experience. However since the influx of h1-b workers our wages have decreased as well as our opportunities.
This type of treatment is why US citizens no longer seek IT jobs; there is not much of a future in it. Every day we have to learn new technologies continually pushing the proverbial envelope, and we are repaid with very little. I hope that people see that technology is the only thing that keeps a country "above the line". Every major war has proven this, pay attention corporate America, you are destroying this country!
They will only catch the stupid ones (once)
Most of them know how to play the system and keep to the letter of the law. Stuff like running the required ads in places no one will read, and job requirements tailored to H1B they want so they can reject anyone who happens to find the ad.
It's not that there are not enough Americans to do the job, It's that that are no Americans that will do the job at $20.00/hr!!!!
I used to command upwards of $150/hr until they started bringing these "Third World" consultants and paid them $20.00 / hr plus a room to sleep in...
And on top of that a lot of them don't even pay taxes in the US because the company that they work for is based in India, and they are paid out of India!!!
I personally (being an H1B on the wrong side of the pond) think there are a couple of factors at play here:
1a. A lot of Indians (like many others) see the US as a "holy grail" to be achieved no matter what. If this means working 14+ hrs a day @ $20/hr + a bunk for the night, so be it.
1b. Some people need to move to the US due to some external constraint, but have to use the method below anyway.
2. A lot of these "consulting companies" (also called "body shoppers" in India) exist solely due to the convoluted and impossible-to-obtain work permit (i.e. the H1B) regulations in the US. As a brief background, only your employer can file for a H1B, and that too only as long as their yearly cap has not been met. The applications are accepted starting on the first working day in April, but even after approval, the employee is not allowed to work till 1st October. So what these "consultanting companies" do is to create a "vacancy", apply for a H1B on behalf of a person who falls into category 1a or 1b, resulting in said person getting the H1B. In addition, they have some ridiculous employment clauses (which, to quote the BoFH would hold as much water as a paper g-string). Unfortunately, the 1a people are afraid of the employment clauses and will stick with said consulting companies (oft times getting royally shafted).
3. Most people (esp. the 1a) will work long hours simply to try and "impress" their managers (who, unless they are Indians on an H1B themselves, have no problems with employees sticking to a 40-ish hour / week schedule), resulting in them being in the office for 10+ hrs a day (I wonder how much *real* work they do, but thats a different rant). All this means I may be expected to put in long hours all the time (even though I *want* to work only 8h/day) because of the bad example set by those before me. Doubly so if my manager is an H1B who had to suffer the 12+ h/days.
4. Add to this the extremely lax employment law enforcement in the US (especially in the Tech sector) about 40h/wk. limits (A friend who had gone on-site to Germany was told by the German team manager to be out of the office by 6pm, otherwise the team in Germany could face serious legal complications - this on the 3rd day he was there of a ~1 month stint)
It is easy to blame it on the H1Bs, but things go much deeper than that.
Mine's the thick woollen sweater .. it *is* quite cold at 11:30pm ;)
It's all economics*
Cheaper workforce = cheaper products.
Punters demand cheaper products so producers have to cut costs.
Eventually it will come back to bite (local unemployment, recession, closure of companys hiring cheap labour, movement of cheap labour back overseas, loss of skilled local workforce etc.) but consumers want cheap *now* damnit.
*I accept some of it is pure greed, but greed is just a part of economic forces.
Systematic Erosion of the American Technical Workforce
There are in some segments of the technical trades (ERP for one) a current shortage of skilled resources. The Big consulting firms, as well as medium to small, are facing a crunch of qualified candidates. Now, companies where you would traditionally find mostly experienced US resources, are placing less than qualiified Indian resources on projects desperate for bodies, at $100k plus salaries, and while this may meet tactical requirements, strategically, as has often been the case, it result in project failure.
The old argument about lower cost for Indian resources only applies to brand new resources or offshore resources...and even that is changing. Less and less American resources are actively recruited and enter the field, while more and more work is sent offshore further developing the technical infrastructure in India. Resource costs are continuing to rise, and Indian resources now command the same salaries in the US as their American counterparts.
In many organizations over the years, the minority of Indian resources have become the majority. When a PM needs to staff projects, they simply do not receive resumes from Americans. Much resourcing is now being performed by Indian resources, and they rely on their contacts with other Indian resources to provide leads and resumes, not on traditional pipeline building of qualified candidates.
Indian resources get coaching by their networking contacts on what to say for interviews. When cornered about lack of expertise on a project, many of these resources say, "I am hard working and can pick it up". We paying $100k+ for Indian resources without the proper skill set when we could simply hire college grads with a hunger to succeed, that would be overjoyed at this compensation.
When Indian resources do not have the necessary skill sets required for a position that they managed to get hired for, the argument is that they will network with other Indian resources to fill in the gaps in their knowledge on the job(even though these other Indian resources may not be qualified), work long hours to understand what they do not know (although many times the long hours are because they do not know what they are doing and wait until the manager is gone for the day to call a friend to help them do their job), and generally display a complete openess and willingness to so whatever it takes to get the job done (as long as they get full credit for the whole project if successful and none if it is a failure). Are these substantial reasons to pay them $100k to learn on the job instead of an American?
They promote themselves as experts during the interview process, supported by their Indian counterparts in HR and within the organization, but this is rarely the case. These network contacts usually refer them for the jobs and perform their "technical interviews". When a manager questions the skills of the resource, this only results in assertions by HR that they have already been approved by technical interview (by another Indian), and HR has accepted them.
The communication skills of Indian resources are, as a rule, not satisfactory for US business engagements. When Project Managers say cannot understand the resources that work for them, or when a client stares vacantly at the Project Manager after the Indian resource is finished speaking, one can only wonder why are these resources being hired?
Although most Indian resources have technical or engineering degrees, they typically have little to no knowledge of business processes. This results in resources, especially in ERP, that force clients to follow the processes that they understand, or that are suggested as standards of the packages application. This lack of developing critical business requirements agnostic of a technology tool, focused on optimal processes for the client organization, results in a system that does not deliver the acceptable value required.
For example, an client organization may have very specific, strategic reasons to design a Supply Chain solution a certain way. The client processes may not match the capabilities of the packaged application being delivered. A resource with a stong business background in addition to technical expertise will focus on the current processes, optimize them based on key business objective, develop a list of future processes and proceed with a mapping and gapping exercise against the packaged application capabilities.
Often, however, the Indian resources are only aware of the packaged application capabilities, having just read the user guide prior to starting the project (even though they said they were experts), and as a result, during requirements gathering sessions, they use scripted questions based on the systems capabilities, not what the client organization requires from a business process perspective.
Alternately, many American resources come from business first, and gain experience as a client in projects. This fundamental difference in experience and understanding is critical to the successful execution of project engagements. The problem is, there is no promotion of these resources from business in the industry, only a complete willingness to put pure technical resources in hybrid business/technical roles.
Delivery organizations understand this, and yet, to meet revenue targets, they are willing to deliver a sub-standard products using less than optimal resources from India. The industry refuses to provide detailed regulation and metrics for "skilled" resources. If they did so, then it would be apparent that current and backlogged business will take much longer to accomplish with skilled resources than market realities suggest with less than skilled resources. Delivery organizations are just throwing bodies at projects to close deals and increase revenue at the expense of client organizations.
The trend is that green card and ex-patriot Indian workforce expansion is only increasing in levels of authority and responsibility. This is resulting in a corresponsing increase of new H-1B's and other Indian resources being hired for projects, as well as promotion of the onsite/offshore model that ships development work to data centers in India. While some organizations have a fairly mature offshore model, and the cost is typically a fraction of onsite development in the US, as a rule, complex development is faster and more effective when you can walk through an office, knock on a door, and ask questions to someone face-to-face to clarify the work expectations.
The majority of IT projects fail; that is a known fact in the industry. Yet companies continue to rush forward with projects managed and delivered by resources that are not capable of doing so, and the result for the delivery industry overall is great: re-work or re-implementation. When the new business cycle starts, as it has strongly over the past couple of years, it starts with first implementations. Then after the many failures, additional cost, time and frustration on re-work for corporations that threw their money down the drain on poor resources. No project manager will be successful without the right resources.
There are less than optimal American resources assigned to projects, but typically, in my experience, the American resources have more respect for a work/life balance and do not think working 55-60 hours per week and only getting paid for 40 is acceptable (and this is a very common practice in the industry). This practice should be investigated, and all organizations penalized to the fullest extent. However, the Indian worker, working all of the extra hours to learn on the job, is only creating a false perception of a more dedicated employee. In my experience, the American worker completes the same work in a fraction of the time.
Unless US corporations are committed to hiring only experienced American candidates, developing skills in new American college graduates instead of H-1B's, and cooperatively work to support US programs designed to develop math and science excellence starting at the primary and secondary levels to ensure the re-emergence of solid technical infrastructure capabilities, the current erosion of the high-salaried American technical workforce will continue. And with the loss of these jobs, Americans lose much of the millions being paid in salaries that go back to India and do not stimulate our economy in any way.
This is not a problem with Indian workers, although they profit from the results. It is a problem with corporations choosing profit over quality at the expense of the American technical worker. Is there an answer to this erosion of the high-salary American tech jobs in the US?
I doubt it.
In some case this stuff has gone beyond mere bad economics. I do a lot of work for a large America computer company, I work with them all over the world and have done for more years than I care to think about.
Recently on some bids they've been asking for hourly rates as well as a not to exceed total price.
I've responded and they've come back and said, Great we love your price, but that hourly rate is too high, some other people have quoted lower hourly rates. You're the cheapest cost but the management won't wear that sort of rate. They don't want to pay more that $44 per hour. But hang on a moment, you're saying I'm cheaper than them... well yes, considerably... but they'd rather spend MORE money to pay someone a lower hourly rate than pay some with lots of experience a lower over fee because they can do the work much more quickly because they know what they are doing.
The worlds gone mad
Former H1B holder
I found out pretty quickly what H1B really meant to US employers. Within seconds of finding the company representative sent to meet me at the airport. I also worked on a project which was managed by a team (of Indians) over 1,000 miles away who demanded a 45 hour minimum working week. I took this up with my own company management and was told to get on with it.
Following 11/9/2001, I was laid off. All the job adverts specifically excluded H1B, and those "helpful" people that would do anything to get me there in the first place, all refused to leave and informed me I had 10 days to leave the country, and no, they weren't going to help. In fact, my employer even told me they would be informing the INS that as I was no longer working for them, they could cancel my visa. Now, they wont reply to my requests for information concerning the 401k plan to which I contributed. Which, I believe is illegal, and amply demonstrates the "care" american companies have for their slaves.
I lost £20,000+ through it all.
H1B is 20th/21st century version of slavery.
It's a small world, after all
Yes, the H1-B workers are taking jobs away from American native workers. But, hey, it's GLOBAL economy and a GLOBAL job market.
My family emigrated from Eastern and Western Europe to America to escape famine and religious persecution. In their day, THEY were the H1-B workers, forced to take any job, live in dangerous places and try to raise a family on what were then starvation wages. Hell, America was FOUNDED on the idea of "wage slaves": what do you think all the indentured workers that came to the American Colonies were?
BTW, even the executive ranks of these big companies are feeling the pressure from off-shore workers. Check the senior technical management ranks of places like Microsoft, Google, AT&T, etc. Those names up there aren't exactly the usual suspects from middle America - they're all first or second generation immigrants that came here to have a better life (or at least a better paying life) and were cheaper AND more productive than the middle American competitors.
"Market Forces" are EXACTLY what we need right now - the kind of market that forces old line companies out of business with new ideas and technology. Protecting jobs from competition does nothing but entrench old skill sets. To counteract the influx of cheap labor, American workers need to fight back, not with laws but by bypassing the old skills, old technologies and old companies and take the fight TO the World Market.
I personally "compete" with very skilled people from all over the world every day, many of whom are H1-B workers. To be truthful, I'd rather work with most of the H1-B folks than their American counterparts: they work up to MY standards. I even help train them in new skills, effectively making MORE competition for me. Funny thing, though: as these "kids" (they're all half my age) get better at their jobs, they start demanding higher wages and higher positions. And the funniest thing is that MY value goes up with theirs, because the better they become, the better I become from TEACHING them. It's a vicious circle where when they win, I win.
If this doesn't make sense to you, go think about it for a while. Then quit whining and start winning.
only in america
this xenophobia towards skilled foreign workers seems to be a peculiarly american phenomenon. as an australian engineer on an E-3 visa (essentially the same as H1B), the LCA filed for my position was a time-consuming formality - searching for american engineers who simply don't exist, at any price.... It doesn't surprise me that a company (perhaps foolishly) decided it could cut through the bureaucracy. in my industry at least, there is a major skills shortage and america really is cutting its own throat by attempting to exclude foreigners. skilled americans might profiteer from this at the expense of their compatriots but it certainly harms the country as a whole.
The world was always mad
Before all this India invasion stuff, there was the problem of the Big 8 (remember them?) picking up all the big contracts because of who they were, even if they were not remotely the low bidder.
The fix was always in, only it was a white boy network.
Now different folks are running things -- but the fix is still in.
The fix is always in (what's the British term for that?)
Nauseated, but still cynical.
--Mine's the lab coat with the rubber gloves in the pocket.
Its not xenophobia....honest
There isn't a skills shortage in my part of the US. There's a shortage of jobs, especially good paying jobs. The working hours are only the tip of the iceberg -- 45hours a week isn't bad, just wait to you come across a company wanting 70. Once employed on an H1 you are at the mercy of your employer so you don't really have much of a choice, you have to put up and shut up.
Its a bit of a myth that Indians -- or any other foreigner -- are intrinsically better qualified than local labor. Some are, but a lot aren't. Its just the bell curve. What you do get is a situation that when they're good they're very good indeed, but when they're mediocre they are not only really mediocre but will move Heaven and Earth to avoid admitting that they don't know something.
The real situation's been disguised somewhat by the boom in defense and security related work. This has provided a protected safe haven for citizens where many of them can continue to think that everything is fine.....until the layoffs, that is.
I'm on an L1-B and I know exactly how visa'd employees are treated.
I won't bore you with the details of the industry or the details of my job but I was brought to the US because I have a vast knowledge of what I do and how it's done. That said I was given a zero pay rise last year and a pittance this year... Upon asking why this was I was told my initial contract states the amount I came to work for so I should be happy with any increase!!!
It's a shame but at the same time I know these people are on the right side of the law. It's all Karma in the end. The skilled leave, the unskilled are just happy to have a job.
I WOULD take a $20/hour job, if it was here in the midwest where living costs are cheap. But there aren't any -- they either pay for $20/hour for 40 hours (but expect 60-80 hours of work).. or they pay like $10-12/hour. I could make more here managing a fast-food restaurant than I would in IT.
The problems with H1Bs as I've seen them: As others have said, it's rapidly deflating the pay rate and extending working hours, and allowing comapnies to violate working laws (see Steve Brown above, where he worked extra hours, with no overtime pay, and put into a 401K which he now can't access.) As others have said, quite a few H1B employees end up not really knowing what they are hired to do, and pick it up on the job as well.
This is the second issue -- companies say there are no qualified people in the states. Well, if you claim you need someone with 5 years experience in your industry, and every other employer ALSO claims they need people with 5 years experience.. how will the person with 1 year experience gain 5 years experience? They will not. There's no way the US will have a skilled labor pool if no company is willing to do any on-the-job training, apprenticeships, or the like, preferring to hire H1Bs (who apparently, based on above comments, ALSO end up just learning it on the job.) Hire some locals who seem sharp but don't have the 5 years experience, and make it so it's easy to fire those who are not picking the job up. Boom! A skilled work force, that knows the business well, and are local so there are not communications problems.
A skilled worker is a skilled worker
To the long winded anonymous coward: please refer to people as people, not "resource". Also, complaining that you could get a graduate in to fill the position is almost the exact opposite of the attitude posited when a discussion of the syllabus of university is discussed. So, what's it to be: graduates are all clueless noobs when they graduate, or "skilled" immigrants are not skilled?
Is the problem here not that there is a shortage of skilled professionals, pushing up the going rate in the market, and then there's an influx of new professionals, bringing the salaries back into line with a reasonable rate?
The fact is, all you complaining have grown complacent and lazy. You were once struggling on a slave wage, but now you're in a position of authority and you've forgotten your roots. If you say you never worked for such low wages, why are you paid so much now?
Just a friendly reminder - comments are limited to a reasonable size, and if you ever post anything that long again I will hunt you down wherever you are and read "The Count of Monte Cristo" to you (in original French) from end to end.
Thanks for your understanding and compliance.
@solomon grundy@systematic erosion
What's up with having more words in a comment than in a typical complete issue of Viz?
There's more sense in the "systematic erosion" comment than in five year's worth of industry-hype-driven outsourcer-advertising-funded IT trade rags.
Not xenophobic, realistic
I've had this problem from a client perspective One supplier employed foreign support staff to manage a data centre environment after initially using native workers. When systems began to break down (It was windows), each "fix" took longer and longer and seemed to make the system even more unstable.
I've had to advise my suppliers support staff to look in log files for error messages because it hadn't occurred to them. I've had to inform them that the "strange angle brackets" in a file are script delimiters, and looking at an ASP file in IE from a network file share *will* give a different view than over HTTP.
The really annoying thing is that I've worked with foreign staff in-house who were very very good. There just seems this trend at the moment not to properly check the ability of foreign workers, automatically assuming they possess the qualifications and skill levels stated on CV's. In the long run it's not in anyone's best interests for this to continue, a low hourly rate will not help when suppliers start losing contracts.
Skilled workers -one part of being skilled is being ready for change
Skilled workers -yes they have skills. The trouble is that as the industry has matured, many other people now also have these skills.
A choice is suggested:
-Learn new skills, which are in demand and few people have.
-Change job and work for a company who needs include technical skills plus the skills of an employee with experience, good teamwork, appropriate use of communication, innovation etc.
This has happened with so many trades in the past -once, being a computer programmer or a CAD draughtsman, for examples was something only a few people did -now many people do these things.
If anyone thinks their company doesn't care about them, or thinks they do not care about their company, the best thing they can do is to change jobs before they become resentful, which will only do them, as well as everyone else, a disservice.
They told you that you had ten days to leave? You were lucky.
When I was laid off from my H1-B job I was told by my lawyer that the ten days grace period was a convention that had no basis in law. I had no such luxury.
Fortunately, I was given a month's notice, which is phenomenally rare in the US, so I was able to file for permanent residency (on the basis of my marriage to a US citizen) before I was out of work and never had to leave the country. Otherwise I would have been filing from the UK, and that would have been bad.
Still, being an H1-B worker does indeed feel like indentured servitude because the permission to work is tied so precisely to the company, job function, and location. I suppose I should count myself lucky that the company that bought the company that brought me into the country took up my H1-B visa as a successor in interest.
My experience with foreign workers
I do not have a problem with working with contractors or people from India, Malaysia etc.. but in my experience, for ever good person I run into, there are 5 bad ones that were presented as qualified for the job by the company that found them for us, or they outright lied on the resume.
My company recently signed a 10 year agreement with Tata consulting. They outsourced everyone in IT, and if we wanted to, we could go to work for Tata, which I chose to do.
The person who was brought in by management to help "slim" the company (which was earning earning a 15% profit, better than the industry average) outright stated that, "For 7.50 dollars an hour, why don't we use these people as a resource."
I have worked with Windows admins who did not know how to tell the size of a network share, (yes, he didn't know about right click, properties) or the developers who hard coded passwords and network drives into an application that was meant to work across multiple domains and locations.
These people were all hired in the name of saving money, but since they have been brought over, downtime is up by 300%, and the IT budget has actually gone up by 23% because of the amount of time that goes into training the people how to run or program custom applications. Of corse, they let go all the programmers because, "No one is worth 80k for writing in Java! We can pay someone 11 dollars an hour who will work 14 hours a day to do the same work!" (all quotes are things that were actually said by the hired gun to trim expenses.)
The lack of foresight that companies have when doing this is staggering, because the IT manager is rarely listened to, and now that Is often the one of the most expensive parts of a modern company, it is the place where "dramatic" cuts could be made by those who do not understand what goes into keeping their computers and applications running.
What has happened is that computing has come to the masses, and it is easy now for anyone to set up and run computer applications. Most of management thinks because their 12 year old son can make a cool myspace page, and set up the new computer they purchased, that paying the developers 60-120k is unreasonable, and therefore should find a way to cut the IT budget so that the company is more profitable.
I came to America when I was two from the Soviet Union, and do not support America's stance on immigration, but think that IT is now being equivocated in management's mind to the US Auto industry. Management hears about the workers at GM getting paid 80k a year to bolt on a door, and looks at a programmer who just sits at a computer all day and sees the same thing, "Too much cost!" While the auto industry is in disarray in the US, it is not due wholly to the workers, management played a large roll in the downfall. GM did not invest in state of the art technology nor adapt it as fast as the Japanese automakers. The presses and other machines were built in the 1950s, and upgrades did not happen because, "hey, we are making a profit. Why mess with something that works?"
IT is not something that you can just patch and upgrade only when the need is dire, it is something you need to keep up on! You must be willing to spend money and go for the latest and greatest, even though no one else has done it.
The mindset of generating the best profit for the shareholders and maximizing short term profit by layoffs and outsourcing will come to bite these companies in the ass.
When the HB-1 workers go back to their native countries, they have basically had a subsidized education from US industry. The new skills that the companies will need will be overseas, and instead of paying 10-20 dollars an hour for them, they will have to pay a premium to overseas companies and people who now hold the key to keep American industry running. Companies will balk at trying to get the local people up to speed, because the wait is too long, and the outsourcing companies and past HB-1 workers have the company by the balls.
I have no problems with workers from other nations coming in to work! I know how it goes by watching the struggles of my family, but I also know that what works in the short term will harm the company in the long term, which is something my family learned from the Soviet style of thinking all too well.
Those of you bitching about losing your cushy job to a person who will work for less and bitch about the employers should consider how they are benefitting from this.
Those nice red Californian tomatoes on the shelves at the supermarket. Good value eh? Thanks to screwing down the wages of the Mexican farm labor. Are you prepared to pay for full price fruit and veg and employ an American at proper American wages?
That PC you've got. Assembled in China with Korean RAM. How about supporting American workers and paying American labor prices for assembly and RAM? $6k for a PC might be fair.
Same deal for those Nikes you're wearing, etc etc. It's all fine to see blue collar jobs go in the name of cost, but why should you really get any different treatment?
@Everyone with a beef on the wrong targets
A lot of people who feel strongly about this topic often train their guns on the wrong targets. A nasty aspect of this exercise is the often demeaning stereotypes they have about their targets - the outsiders who have been declared guilty of "stealing" jobs.
America is a great country not simply because of its might but because of its democratic society which at different points of time has corrected itself for any inequities it bestowed upon its lesser citizens in the past. No other society in the world has taken such big leaps in such a short period of time (speaking on a civilizational scale).
Yet, as is expected from a democratic society, there are those who refuse to look past prejudices and biases formed from their limited life experiences. What's true for one bad apple must be true of the entire orchard!
One must realize that American capitalism is neither foolishly greedy to cut costs at any expense, even that of a basic output quality nor idealistically altruistic to prefer foreign workers from less developed countries for the sole purpose of improving their lives. Where you have a ridiculously cheap business (read Walmart) you also have one that offers quality at a much higher price (read Target). American shareholders are the buying customer who decide how much quality they can sacrifice for a cheaper product (read higher stock earnings).
All those who like to complain about jobs being "stolen" need to realize that none of the business decisions taken to hire cheaper (not always the case) foreign workers are taken in a vaccuum. When the American is wearing his investor hat, he wants maximum profit on his money but when he wears his "laid off for being no more valuable than a skilled foreigner willing to work for 50% less" hat, he wants to complain about how American professionals have been compromised.
Who's at fault? The greedy investor and by extension, American companies for not doing enough to recruit local talent or the complacent, neck-deep in self-entitlement employee who doesn't want to make himself more valuable to his employer? If you ask the resentful types, the answer will more likely be: "The foreign worker who is raiding our job market".
not unique to America
This happens in the UK too, There is some strange idea among the higher ups that hiring foreign workers is cheaper. while the upfront costs are probably cheaper (and i'm assuming there are some iffy tax breaks for the company) the maintanance costs more than offset this.
From the projects I've been involved in, the quality of the 'offshore resource' i have worked with has varied drastically. From someone who is very good, and can quite easily take technical lead on a project, to supposed experts in a technology, who had trouble interpreting logical structures ie incorrectly coded checks involving AND & OR as they didn't understand them, had copied chunks of code from elsewhere in the app and slightly amended, but without understanding how the original code worked, so while it did what it needed to, it also had a few extras in that guaranteed unexpected behaviour further down the line(they'd even copied the original comments which were meaningless in the context of the 'new' code).
There are also the simplest of problems, caused if you're a non-native english speaker (not specific to foreign workers, i had to train someone a year or so ago that had the reading & writing skills of a retarded chimp). Specs & Designs are very carefully worded to be clear and unambiguous. If you can't follow that then mistakes will be made, and any comments in the code to explain, will not be helpful . we have even included quality of comments in our coding standards now due to this, if they are not in clearly understandable, gramatically correct, english then the code will fail review.
I think, from my experience, that one of the problems seems to be that what appears on the CV means something very different to what you would get with an American or UK developer, and managers have come to expect more than is explicitly stated. If a CV states that a person has extensive experience in c/c++ it could simply mean that they have spent the last 2-3 years coding from detailed program specs without ever understanding how the programs work. Chances are that if a UK or American developer puts this then they are the one who wrote the program spec.
This sort of thing would easily be determined in an interview by a few questions, but the people interviewing don't tend to realise there is even a difference between just being able to code and being able to design code. Or in the case of where i work, there isn't even an interview, the 'resource' is ordered almost like stationary. if a project needs 3 more developers, they are just ordered, turn up and get to work if there are any problems, they aren't spotted until code is actually produced (which is too late to replace someone)
Always struck me as ironic
The irony is that my hometown of Pittsburgh is home to a few universities (Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, Duqesne to name a scant few), and the standard of living is on the cheap side compared to other places. And the lament from just about everybody out of university is "there's no jobs around here".
Well, if the H1-B people do come here, at least they can make sure their meagre dollar goes further here than, say NYC or DC (or abroad, where it's really meagre!). Also, our centres of higher learning provide good opportunities for graduate studies. Good time to come over and buy houses, because us yanks can't afford them!
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to yinzer, before my head explodes. Maybe I should have some crisps first... *boom*
...but do these skilled workers...
...have an MBA that our beloved government finds so much more valuable than, say, a M.Eng?
check your info- "cheap labor" is not the case
people who work in this country legally on H1B visas are not cheaper to employ than people who are lucky enough to be citizens. it is illegal to pay people who work on H1B visas lower than the previaling wage (this is to protect them and to protect citizens). Previaling wage differs from city to city, but it is at least 60K/year.
Yes and no...
First off, as an American who has spent 30 years in IT, 10 of those in the US working with H-1B visa holders and the last 5 working in or managing development teams in East Asia, I have to agree fully with "Systematic Erosion" up above. As far as the Count of Monte Cristo comment by Solomon Grundy - I feel your pain, but that pain isn't nearly as bad as what lots of people are feeling. Fully 95% of my American contacts with more than ten years experience and/or born before 1970 have been unemployed for at least five out of the last eight years. This includes a guy with an MBA and a P. Eng., who routinely is told he either a) has too high a rate, b) isn't credible when he says he'll work for a lower rate, and/or c) never gets called by the "recruiters" who use "grep" as a primary resume-filtering tool.
Out of some 55 projects I have worked on and/or observed with significant numbers of H-1Bs in the US, 49 have failed. Of the 15 I have worked in since arriving in East Asia, the only one that failed did so - according to the client - because the infrastructure developed for the project by a large, well-known South Asian outsourcing firm was not fit for purpose, and the budget could not support the level of rework needed....even at "bargain basement" prices.
You really do have to pay for what you get - directly or otherwise. The problem in IT for the last 20 years or so is that we haven't been getting what we've thought - and mediocrity is the new standard of excellence. TANSTAAFL? Must be a technical term - no marketroid, HR bot or CxO has ever thought the concept through.