H-1B reform debate pits tech firms against veteran IT workers

Some tech vendors say more foreign visas are needed to help with a shortage of qualified IT workers

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Data from Dice, the tech job board, CareerBuilder and staffing agency Kelly Services show thousands of open IT jobs across the U.S., with significant openings in application development, including mobile apps and HTML 5, IT infrastructure support, and for IT project managers. Java and .Net developers are in high demand, said Melisa Bockrath, vice president and group leader for the IT unit of Kelly Services.

CareerBuilder, the online job-search portal, had more than 290,000 job listings for application developers between December and February, and just over 20,000 active candidates in related fields. AT&T and IBM each had more than 3,400 app developer job postings during that three-month period; Microsoft and Computer Sciences each had more than 1,250 postings.

CareerBuilder listed more than 30,000 IT project management jobs during the same time period. There were about 5,500 active job seekers in that area.

But only 15 percent of the active candidates in the app developing field, and 11 percent in IT project management, said they were willing to relocate for a job.

The picture is more complicated than the stats suggest. Many veteran IT workers, some with close to 20 years of experience, say many U.S. tech vendors don't want their services.

Many U.S. tech companies want more H-1B visas so they can hire cheaper foreign workers, contrary to the official stance that tech companies want to bring the most talented tech workers to the U.S., some critics say. (See related story: Veteran tech workers see tough job market.)

Foreign visas are a large part of the problem for veteran IT workers, said John Donaldson, a 51-year-old software developer out of work since October. "I blame much of my misfortune on the H-1B visas flooding this country," he said. "When I picked my computer science major ... no one told me I'd be competing against a huge tide of foreign nationals flooding, via dubious means, the national job market every year."

In some cases, the out-of-work IT veterans have a skills mismatch with the jobs available, said Bockrath, of Kelly Services. Many companies want experience in their field; companies believe that developing apps for the oil and gas industry is different than developing mortgage apps for a bank, she said

In other cases, candidates aren't willing to move for a job, said Bockrath, whose company partners with CareerBuilder to look at hiring trends. Veteran tech workers living in areas of high unemployment "need to be a little more flexible" about relocating, she said.

Many of Kelly's corporate clients are having trouble recruiting IT workers, she said. In areas with IT worker shortages, Bockrath has advised clients to consider remote workers, in the jobs that lend themselves to telework, she said.

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Answers - Powered by ITworld

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question
randomness