Opinion

Felix Salmon

It’s time to get working on labor mobility

By Felix Salmon
August 20, 2011

One of the problems with the news cycle is that perennial issues — problems and solutions both — tend to get ignored in favor of things which have changed in the last few hours or days or weeks. As a result, when it comes to the global economic crisis — the thing which came to the world’s attention in 2008 and which no amount of Panglossian dreaming of V-shaped recoveries can wish away — one of the key potential solutions has been left all but ignored from the outset of the crisis through the present day.

So it’s worth taking a big step back, and looking at the global economy from 30,000 feet. When you do that, you see a lot of wasted resources — in food, in energy, in water, and of course in war. But add them all together and they still don’t come close to the human resources that are wasted every day. This is the 21st Century — the age of information technology and service-sector value-addition. The two most valuable companies in the world, Apple, and Exxon Mobil, both have fewer employees than the population of Moses Lake, WA. The right people in the right place are worth more now than at any point in history — even as the total population of the planet, and therefore its gross human potential, has never been higher.

At the same time, however, the universe of people with the potential to really change the world is vastly smaller than it ought to be. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, writing in the WSJ on Saturday, complains with good reason:

Many people in the U.S. and around the world lack the education and skills required to participate in the great new companies coming out of the software revolution. This is a tragedy since every company I work with is absolutely starved for talent. Qualified software engineers, managers, marketers and salespeople in Silicon Valley can rack up dozens of high-paying, high-upside job offers any time they want, while national unemployment and underemployment is sky high.

Does the world have a shortage of good software engineers? Yes. Does Silicon Valley have an artificial shortage of good software engineers? Yes. There are lots of highly-qualified software engineers from India, Russia, and elsewhere — even Canada — who would love to work in Silicon Valley but can’t, for visa reasons. Even if you got your qualification at Stanford University, right in the heart of Silicon Valley, it’s decidedly non-trivial to get a job in Palo Alto or Cupertino upon graduation. You know the companies, you know the people, they know you, they would love to hire you — but the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services gets in the way, and forces you out of the country instead.

If you’re more ambitious than that, of course, the situation gets even worse. There are at least ways of getting a work visa in the US; they’re far too onerous, and leave far too much to chance, but it’s possible. If you want to become an entrepreneur, on the other hand, there’s really no point in even trying. Recent graduates are perfectly positioned to build the great companies of the future: they’re bright, they’re hard-working, they’re up to speed on the state of the art, and they generally don’t yet have families which require job security and a steady income. But if they’re not US citizens, it’s almost impossible for them to build the economy of the future in this way.

And Silicon Valley has historically been a very good place for immigrants — think Intel’s Andy Grove, or Google’s Sergei Brin. It’s no coincidence that the most vibrant areas of the economy are also the places with the highest immigration. Immigrants — especially rich and well-educated immigrants — work hard, create jobs, pay much more in taxes than they take out in benefits, and tend to have overachieving children: they’re a recipe for economic growth and prosperity. The US is a nation of immigrants; from the Statue of Liberty’s beaconed hand glows world-wide welcome, at least in theory. In practice, the US has shot itself in the foot in this regard, especially when compared to its Anglophone competitors like Canada and England. America would have an all but insurmountable competitive advantage in the fight for talented immigrants, were it only to bother competing.

Take another step back, and the lack of mobility of the skilled global elite is a microcosm of a much larger problem, which is the lack of labor mobility more generally, both between and also within countries. Detroit, for instance, has painfully high levels of unemployment just because there aren’t nearly enough jobs in the city, any more, to support its population. The solution is for people in Detroit to move to where jobs are more plentiful. Similarly across the US: one of the reasons why a single currency works well across 50 disparate states is precisely because there’s a decent amount of labor mobility between those states. But as a rule, the more labor mobility the better, and one way of ensuring that jobs get filled by the best-qualified people is to maximize the ease of moving geographically from one job to another.

Moving is always painful, of course, especially for families, but this is one area where homeownership is very much a bad thing. Selling a house is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming — all the more so in today’s depressed market, when millions of homeowners are underwater on their mortgages. In the short term, the government should be doing everything it can to bring liquidity back to the real-estate market — and that means forcing banks to do principal reductions on underwater mortgages. In the long term, it should phase out the mortgage-interest tax deduction, which artificially increases homeownership and decreases labor mobility.

Improving labor mobility is not easy. Italy, for instance, has been a unified country with a single language and a single currency for 150 years, but it still has minimal labor mobility from the south to the north. The lack of labor mobility has been one of the biggest macroeconomic problems facing the Eurozone; again, the millions of unemployed people in the south are not filling jobs in the north. (There’s a bit more mobility from east to west, but not much more.) And globally, discrimination on the basis of one’s country of nationality is the one universally-condoned form of discrimination still in existence: every country in the world puts up significant barriers to prevent foreign nationals from living and working within its borders.

This is not a problem which can or even should be fixed overnight. But it’s a huge problem all the same, and the world’s policymakers should be working on it rather than ignoring or exacerbating it, as they’re doing at the moment. If we want to maximize long-term growth, eradicate global poverty, and give everybody in the world the opportunity to achieve their potential, then a vast improvement in global labor mobility is top of the list of prescriptions.

Comments
28 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

A couple of comments, Felix.
1. Apple and XOM may not have many employees as compared to, say, Boeing but… In Apple’s case, they’re only a design company. Apple itself doesn’t make anything – Foxconn and others in China do all the making. By looking at only Apple’s US workforce, you’re only seeing a fraction of the skill sets and numbers that Apple actually needs. All that design is worthless if it’s never physically turned into a product you can hold in your hand. XOM is similar.

2. I have also read tales of woe from technology graduates who can’t get work because it all goes to H1B visa holders who, coincidentally, work for less. I suspect that there are fewer actual shortages and more contrived ones.

Posted by majkmushrm | Report as abusive
 

It’s so disappointing to see smart people advocating labor mobility and immigration. There is more to life than serving the plutocrats. Living with family and long term friends is far more fulfilling than chasing a few bucks around the world. Trust me – I’ve lived in 9 US cities over the last 30 years. Not fun.

As for immigration… lets turn back time 500 years. Imagine you live in the Americas and suddenly all these strangers appear in your midst. I’m sure some said they could benefit from “new blood”. How did that work out?

I know, this time is different.

Posted by silliness | Report as abusive
 

And really… aren’t we at the point in history where innovation results in LOWER demand for labor? The efficiency gods demand sacrifices and modestly skilled labor is the offering.

Posted by silliness | Report as abusive
 

As someone with a good and senior position in the software industry, I can tell you that there is always a shortage of highly experienced and talented individuals willing to work at subpar wages. Of course there isn’t a real shortage as that would cause wages to go up and that has not happened to any significant degree after they came down from the tech bubble years. There are also plenty of recent graduates who are unemployed.

So yes, employers would love it if we could let experienced IT practitioners immigrate here more easily, but what would happen to our graduates? There would be no place for them. The only reason any of them are hired today is that there is a cap on H1-B visas. Companies in any field would be happy to have stop hiring new grads and instead grab already experienced people from countries with lower standards of living. Follow this route and the increased unemployment aside, you will soon be without any Americans with the skills to set up those companies.

Posted by bmozaffari | Report as abusive
 

Its amazing to see Luddite, protectionist and communist comments coming from what are generally knowledgeable readers/commentators.

@bmozaffari asks “what would happen to our graduates”… well, hopefully they’d get their act together, stop binge drinking and going to frat house parties, and work as hard as grads from IITs or Chinese institutes (do you realize that many of them, since they aren’t allowed calculators, actually memorize log tables… that’s hard work). Unless you think that “our graduates” are generally less smart so wont be able to compete. In which case, building an economy on those grads work is even dumber, and there’s only one conclusion to that path.

@silliness asks if we’re at a point where innovation results in lower demand for labor. The Luddites burned cotton gins because they thought the same thing 300 years ago. Productivity drives GDP, esp when the birth rate falls. That creates wealth, which gives you the surplus to innovate more…

Keep up the good work Felix! Sometimes it needs an immigrant like you to challenge the status quo.

Posted by FDum | Report as abusive
 

Oh Fdum… Luddites? Come on now. Wealth is different from well-being.

Posted by silliness | Report as abusive
 

@FDum, your response was a hyper-partisan one and little else. Certainly not the way Felix writes. He generally has good points but no matter what, he is always open to reason. Communist? That kind of hyperbole is usually where I stop reading, but I suppose just because you didn’t read my comment properly doesn’t mean I shouldn’t respond to yours:

The majority of H1B employees we hire in the tech industry are not new graduates. Sure, top grads from either MIT or IIT get jobs wherever they want but specially in the Software industry, much more value is put on experience than education. Everyone in Silicon Valley is looking for a software engineer with X years of experience in Y. The question is where do you get that experience? The answer is simple for the H1B crowd. You get it elsewhere, outside the country. Once you have the necessary experience in a certain technology, you come over and we’ll hire you. Of course unless you’ve done exceptionally well, chances are that you’ll have to head back to your country once the next IT buzzword arrives as we would again want someone with experience in that technology and that’s not you! So it’s a model that works well for IT companies but not so well for the country.

Posted by bmozaffari | Report as abusive
 

P.S., I am an immigrant and support a reasonable level of immigration and work authorization. I just don’t agree with what Felix suggests and have stated the reasons for it.

Posted by bmozaffari | Report as abusive
 

Hard to argue that it’s home-ownership that is holding back Americans when at best they have a below average rate compared to other OECD countries. I wish I remember where I saw the table, but America had roughly a 63% rate and the average was over 67%…

As far as immigration… capitalism only works when one group can be taken advantage of. Look at every single sector and you’ll see that the most successful companies in each are doing business in places where they can take advantage of local populations, or as conservatives call it ‘are incentivized’. Within America that is a more difficult game to play, especially when so much of the economies of the southern half were/are dependant on slave labour to succeed. Slavery was abolished, and now it’s replaced by undocumented persons; now the middle class is being abolished and being replaced by foreign grads. I wish I could fathom an answer to this problem that isn’t protectionist, nihilist, or wishful thinking…

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive
 

“now the middle class is being abolished and being replaced by foreign grads”

Thanks for cutting through the nonsense and stating the implications (if not the intention) of this post.

Because Americans, you know, are not like this: “Immigrants — especially rich and well-educated immigrants — work hard, create jobs, pay much more in taxes than they take out in benefits, and tend to have overachieving children: they’re a recipe for economic growth and prosperity.”

I’ll give FS a pass on this gross generalization and lack of respect for US citizens because its clear he just wants more “rich and well-educated” people in the USA. I guess he thinks they will create jobs for poor and less-educated Americans even though the evidence pretty clearly indicates that they won’t. There are really no more labor intensive industries in the USA other than construction. They’ll just be richer than they would be had they stayed home. And then there is that brain drain from places desperately needing development.

Perhaps there just is no way to put low and moderately skilled Americans back to productive work in this age. Admitting this would go along way toward helping them.

Posted by silliness | Report as abusive
 

Felix, you use the example of Italy as if to suggest there is no job mobility in the EU when there is. During the UK boom time, Polish migrants flocked to the shores of the UK and filled in the skill shortages as well as the labour shortages the boom created. When things got tough, large numbers of them returned to their home country, only a few stayed behind but their hard work and enterprise will be a benefit to the UK for decades.

This flow of temporary residents certainly helped smooth labour demand out without creating a long term benefit problem – and they contributed tax money to the economy while they were here. For the young Brits who think rather too highly of their employment potential with a Media Studies degree, the fact they weren’t such good workers as the immigrants were in many cases has created some bad feeling towards the them.

Similarly, there are huge numbers of Brits in Germany, France and Spain, while the natives of those countries can be found all over the rest of Europe.

Posted by FifthDecade | Report as abusive
 

In the past immagration led to innovation and higher levels of total employment. At some point though being able to spread information and ideas globally within minutes does mean we need less middle managers.

At my bank we are having one ambitious manager supervise 2 branches. E-mail, voice mail, and ambitious lower level workers fighting for the next promotiont make that possible. The result is higher efficency and higher productivity… and that’s great… but the net result is 1 fewer well paid job. We’re not even a little worried about missing opportunities by leaving an open position unfilled because our national competitors aren’t just leaving open positions vacent… they are actively firing people and closing entire branches.

I have a close friend who works for Pepsico. They have been very open with their worksers. Pepsi is much more interested in selling an emerging market consumer their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd soda-pop of the year than trying to get an American or European to drink their 51st, 101st, or 301st soda of the year. The implications of that business plan are simple. When a Western beverage botteling plant reaches it’s maximum capacity… that’s it.

That area will not have any more Pepsi sold into it. Nor will Pepsi truck it in from another plant… they just raise the price in the market until demand matches supply. 59% increase in 5 years for an individual serve 20 ounce bottle at any convience store. Profitiblity per unit through the roof!

What does Pepsi do with that new windfall… just what investment managers like me force them to do they… increase their dividend and spend the rest developing new markets. To make matters worse for the western middle class it’s a 3 for 1 deal. For the cost of opening 1 anything here in the states you can build 3 overseas.

And Felix you are a GREAT finance writer… the best in my opnion… but can you honestly tell your readers that any increase in cross boarder mobility will not lead directly and swiftly to increased global income equality?

Oh… did you intend to suggest to us that global equality and a more equitable distribution of the earths resourses amonst its citizens would be a good thing…

…why don’t you crunch some numbers like a grown up and tell me what the average global hourly wage is. Then compare it to your hourly wage and the estimated hourly wage of your upper-middle class readership… I’ll give you a hint… you know that stat about how middle class wages have stagnated in the west for the last 10 years… I’ve got a news flash and it’s a shocker… that’s a good thing… a GREAT thing… because if global wages are going to moderate any faster than they have, western wages won’t be STAGNENT the next 10 years they are going to FREAKING PLUMMET.

Earn that next promotion, go back and get that next degree, start your own business… that or learn to love the lifestyle you currently have because this right now… THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS!

Posted by y2kurtus | Report as abusive
 

“Italy, for instance, has been a unified country with a single language” In 1861 btw 2,5% and 9% could read and write, in 1951 in the South there was still a 28% who couldn’t read and write.
“it still has minimal labor mobility from the south to the north.” 29 mio left Italy in 150 years, from the end of WW2 till today 9 mio moved from southern Italy to the northern part. Hardly enough people left there to serve you a grilled fish.

Posted by hansrudolf | Report as abusive
 

I think this is chasing up the wrong tree. The problem is that labor mobility we have has been set up primarily to benefit capital’s needs, while capital mobility, and the regulation of capital, has also evolved for the benefit of capital.

So, we have labor mobility in the form of outsourcing and immigrant farm labor, while people who live in disadvantaged places are more or less stuck unless they can move ( a low mobility solution ) or tap into a stream set up for the advantage of capital.

Focusing on H1-B I think misses the big picture. I do think those who focus on anti-immigration measures are overlooking a historical trend, which is that periods in which immigration is suppressed over fears about jobs tend to coincide with extended periods of stagnation – the immigration itself is a growth driver, and when you suppress immigration in hopes of protecting local jobs during a period of stagnation, that doesn’t do anything to put a floor under the macroeconomy.

As for productivity driving growth when population is flat- that’s correct – but if all the gains are going to capital and our biggest problem in the federal government is ‘the deficit’ – while the biggest problem in the rest of the economy is that it is serving only the top 1/4 of 1% well and leaving 15% or so of the population that should be working idle while constraining the options and incomes of another 70% – kind of obvious that a solution which doesn’t significantly drag down the idea of upward mobility and a breadth of participation has to realign the structure of business. If Pepsi isn’t managing to correct some of the US based imbalances with its international strategy, then the nation’s interests lie in changing the way the company thinks and acts.

Posted by CharlieH | Report as abusive
 

@DFrum wrote: “do you realize that many of them [grads from IITs or Chinese institutes], since they aren’t allowed calculators, actually memorize log tables… that’s hard work”.

It is hard work that would be better spent on an activity with a higher return on investment. I am willing to bet that none of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, or Larry Ellison ever memorized a single log tables. In fact, all of them are college dropouts.

Posted by AmadeusX | Report as abusive
 

Detroit, for instance, has painfully high levels of unemployment just because there aren’t nearly enough jobs in the city, any more, to support its population. The solution is for people in Detroit to move to where jobs are more plentiful.
__

Dreadfully facile and condescending article.

(1) Move with WHAT? Moving takes money – quite a lot of money as in at least 4 figures.

(2) Move to WHERE? Jobs for the bottom 75% (paying less than $50,000) aren’t exactly the sort of job that an employer will keep open while the employee arranges a move of a thousand miles or more and can’t start work for a couple months or more. They can’t just pack up and move and hope to find a job because of (3) below.

(3) Live WHERE if they just move to hunt for a job? No one will rent to them if they don’t have a job in the new area. They can’t get a mortgage in a new area if they don’t have job or if they haven’t held the job that long. So where do they live while they look for a new job? In a tent? Under a bridge?

(4) And what happens to the spouse who still has a job where they live? Quit? Move off with the unemployed spouse/partner who is going to relocate to look for work? And if the unemployed partner/spouse finds a job hundreds or thousands of miles away does does the employed spouse/partner do? Stay behind and split up the marriage? QUit to go along and hope they can find something – so now you still have 1 who is unemployed?

Employers do not offer relocation assistance to any employees except the very top 5-10% in an organization. They certainly won’t help the spouse who had to quit their job to move with the unemployed partner.

Getting rid of the house is far less a problem – sell it, rent it, walk away – than the problem of the 2 earner household.

And then there is the problem of extended family responsibilites – elderly parents, etc. DO they take them along to live in a tent while the unemployed person looks for a job in a new area and the one who was employed has quit their job?

Stupid and facile nonsense that assumes that there is only 1 wage earner in a household and that all the unemployed are looking for jobs where the employer will wait for them to move or help them move and that they have the money in hand to move.

Try dealing with the real world.

Posted by onthelake | Report as abusive
 

I agree with the post by ‘silliness’, above, who decrys this post, with which Felix Salmon moves firmly into the neoliberal washington consensus camp. I expect to see a post by Brad DeLong and et. al., providing a link and a supportive line or two.

Oh, wait: here it is, a post by none other than up-and-coming neoliberal soothsayer Matthew Yglesias on Aug 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm, lauding global labor mobility as a response to unfettered global capitalisms ability to direct capital anywhere in the world on a whim.

Was there a neoliberal apologist dinner that everybody went to and decided what to post about?

Posted by Strych09 | Report as abusive
 

The unemployed in Silicon Valley are getting sick and tired of the nonsense of hearing about labor shortages. And it gets even more tiring using Google as an example of an immigrant success story when the “immigrant” came over to the US at 6 years old.

Posted by hoapres | Report as abusive
 

Start living like a North Korean to save America. For those of you without work then likely you have no choice. Those of you that do should start saving money for the extremely grim times to come. For those of you that are understandably skeptical of my claims of “extremely grim times” to come then you can go to the Dice discussion boards looking at my prior past predictions before I was banned.

In a nutshell

I want YOU to train YOUR H1B replacement.

Or as said by more than one exec :

Americans as a condition of receiving their severance working proudly together training their Indian H1B replacements to export jobs.

This should be a no brainer : If you have to choose more foreigners coming to the US versus the job going overseas then we are all much better off for the job to go overseas as the American is not getting the job in the first place.

Most IT is just labor. If I don’t like the fact that I can’t find a good plumber then I pay more money to get one. I don’t like the quality of the American workforce then go out and pay more money.

IT is not theoretical physics with increasing salaries not solving your labor shortage. Theoretical physics unlike software engineering is a field justifying allowing the few solitary geniuses.

Importing millions of H1Bs over the past couple of decades just was for cost.

Posted by hoapres | Report as abusive
 

I don’t know know what shortage your are talking about. As for Silicon Valley that’s one thing but For Austin I have seen a stack of at least 50 resumes for one job at the company I work for. The resumes were all from highly experienced people with degrees from good colleges. So you’re statement about a shortage is BULL. What I suspect it really is, is a shortage of CHEAP labor. All of the resumes I saw in the stack were from highly experienced and seasoned people who I don’t doubt had expectation of a reasonable salary and benefits. And the company I work being in Texas likes to not hire technical people full time.
If there is really and truly shortage of people in your state then train the young people in your state and hire them. Honestly I don’t have degree in computer science I learned everything on the job. Let some of these companies who are crying poor mouth hire some of the kids who can’t find a job … spend some time and money on them let them become productive CITIZENS.

Posted by black_13 | Report as abusive
 

During the 15 years I’ve been running my small software company, I’ve hired 2 H1Bs and many more US-born citizens. I don’t discriminate based on age: I’ve hired many programmers above age 40, some of whom are closing in on 60.

I have never struggled to find talent. Maybe that’s because people want to work for my company? Or maybe it is because I’m not fixated with hiring the cheapest labor available on the world market?

The US is filled with smart people who are ready and willing to work hard in business. The trouble is, large companies want cheap labor so they hire professional lobbyists to produce a fiction that the US has a “desperate labor shortage in technology” while capable workers can’t find jobs.

A few years ago, the US Government gave Sri Lanka several million dollars to teach people the Java programming language and improve their English. One mother in the US commented at the time that her daughter, a fresh college grad who was struggling to find a programming job, would love to get paid by the US to learn Java and she already knew English!

Sure, the above paragraph may make me sound xenophobic. That’s nonsense. I grew up in NYC and love people of all walks of life from anywhere in the world. What I dislike is the manufactured fiction that the US suffers from a desperate labor shortage in technology. It is time to begin actively refuting such damaging fictions.

Posted by jlk123 | Report as abusive
 

The flip side of this is our eagerness to export our jobs in the spirit of a free market and profits to US companies without demanding a level playing field for our employees. While we demand that H1B employees get equivalent wages to US workers (incl advertising for the job etc.) we don’t demand that any job that gets offshored have similar pension, healthcare and workplace obligations as we enforce in the US (obviously purchasing power adjusted etc.).
I’ve noted above how we should be encouraging the best talent to come to the US (@AmadeusX – that’s exactly why idiotic practices like learning log tables make these countries less competitive and talent moves here to the US). The converse is ensuring that whatever goes abroad, goes with the right stipulations and conditions. Which is not the case today.
A whole different story is how the profits from that export of jobs are not being repatriated to the original investors in the US (in a lot of cases, who are also employees affected by their job being off-shored with their 401Ks in the market). I’ve been seeing the $2 Trillion number thrown around. Would be nice to have 15% of our income come back to us after “we” (many of us being shareholders) paid for it with our jobs …
In sum, we need to be politically and economically consistent. Either we go all protectionist and raise trade barriers and talent barriers as some suggest, or we create a free flow of talent, but then ensure the profits come back to us in the US, and the playing field is a level one. We’re stuck in a strange middle ground, pandering to interest groups, and reaping the consequences.

Posted by FDum | Report as abusive
 

It’s amazing you hear about all these “shortages” in Silicon Valley with no factual basis. Sure, sure, sure, candidates have dozens of job offers any time they want.

What planet do these people live on ??

We have NO shortage of qualified people looking for work in Silicon Valley. A more apt description would be thousands and thousands and thousands of qualified people looking for work.

If jobs were really scarce then we would be seeing jobs with signing bonuses of thousands of dollars instead of offers of free lunch along with paid relocation.

Posted by hoapres | Report as abusive
 

Felix, just because you seemingly can be happy with few roots, no strong connection to a place you call home, no religious community, no children, no deep connection to a particular culture and not much family nearby doesn’t mean everyone is like that.

These are all the things that give most people meaning and make most people happy. In times past with much higher fertility, people would start a new life somewhere and soon enough have their own clan but these days people are so atomized that great mobility means further isolation in a country that already has huge problems with this.

Posted by DanHess | Report as abusive
 

The premise of the article being a shortage of software engineers in Silicon Valley is just completely wrong. You can go down to Guadualape River and look at the homeless IT people many that are over 40.

Prerejection is common in IT and especially in Silicon Valley. A common ground for prerejection is being unemployed or over 35.

Posted by hoapres | Report as abusive
 

I think the problem is the tremendous amount of friction in the labor market, rather than the lack of mobility. Having a fully mobile workforce won’t change the fact that we have an enormous amount of difficulty in connecting worker to job, even if qualifications and requirements are an exact match.

I have a job that didn’t exist before I was offered it. I was connected to the company through a mutual acquaintance, and was introduced to the CEO in an accidental twist of fate. I am almost certainly not the best qualified person for this job (and I work remotely so mobility doesn’t matter), but I was somehow the one that prompted the CEO to create the position.

That’s how the part of Silicon Valley that gets all of the accolades works. But it’s not how most are used to looking for a job. Employers want to have a personal investment in the candidate, and the ability of both employer and candidate to create that connection is poor.

Everyone from skilled tradesman to retail workers to professionals to employers have to increasing view the job/candidate search as a social experiment, and I simply don’t think that the vast majority of us are equipped to do so.

Posted by Curmudgeon | Report as abusive
 

The notion that the U.S. continues to be (or has ever been, for that matter) handicapped by a shortage of workers capable of handling high-tech jobs is a carefully crafted propaganda campaign orchestrated by America’s universities and corporations. Their goals are to keep our colleges’ graduate classrooms full and high-tech-job wages depressed. For every student graduated, universities get a kickback from their state government and for every “in-sourced” (foreign) high-tech worker, corporations get a subservient and obedient worker on a temporary visa that is happy with almost any wage. Every American should question why our controversial H-1B, F-1, and other immigration programs that in-source foreign workers for high-tech jobs, are so strongly supported by universities and corporations. The U.S. should instead focus on educating, then employing its own citizens.

Posted by mrright | Report as abusive
 

The right people in the right place at the right time are indeed valuable. With this confluence, businesses will have people working for $1 a day. America will be a 3rd world country – actually all countries will be 3rd world with a very few rich spread out in a few world wide affluent cities.

I was a boy scout, straight A student through college (engineering), and I don’t buy this “free trade” “no borders” guff for a second. I believe in the American dream and of human rights. Everything that businesses want is antithetical to this.

Wake up and stop parroting industry talking points. There never has been a shortage of high tech workers. Do your homework and research. You’ll find that visas like the H1-B were designed solely to undercut the wages of high educated workers.

Man you are pedestrian.

Posted by allanc | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •