A few days ago, I wrote a piece on the fracas that ensued when Disney and power utility Southern California Edison apparently hired Indian firms TCS and Infosys to replace in-house tech workers with Indians on H-1B visas. What seemed to enrage many about these two situations was the added ignominy that these fired workers had to suffer when they were made to train their Indian counterparts lest they lose out on their severance pay.So what is really going on? I think there is a moral case to be made here. I believe there are plenty of Americans who are skilled to fill these jobs. They aren't being hired because it's much cheaper to bring in foreign workers under the H1B visa program. This is an ABUSE of the system.
Still, there is a general feeling in the US that Indian companies have played fast and loose in trying to make a quick buck, which in this case is around $20 billion in revenue -- no small pile. Along the way, American IT workers feel enormously embittered towards people who they feel are not skilled enough and have poor communication skills, while Indian H-1B holders are aghast when they discover that they are being paid a fraction of a client's billed amount. It's an ugly situation all around.
The question came up in Quora and here is the question and what I thought was the pointed answer:
Do you really believe the "there are too few qualified software engineers available in the USA" speech that software companies are preaching?
Donald William Gillies, Software Engineer at GoogleThere were several commenters that disagreed. A few that agreed. I think this one was the most valid.
I graduated with a PhD in computer science in 1993. In that year, UT-Arlington (a 3rd rate almost-community-college-level school) had 1 job opening and received 400 job applicants. UT-Austin (a 1st rate top-10 school) had 2 positions and received 1500 applicants. The odds are a little better today; at the PhD level now perhaps there are only 50 applicants for every position open. I worked in an ECE department that was a top-10 school, and we found that half of our graduates never found a job in Electrical Engineering. Is there a shortage of computer scientists or electrical engineers in the USA? No way.
The people who say there is a shortage, are all of them shills for the H1B industry. Many lawyers make an illicit living off that program. America definitely has a shortage of software engineers with no college loans who are willing to work for food. There is an unlimited supply of students from overseas who received free government-paid educations from their home countries, and are willing to work for almost nothing because they have no encumberances and their families are starving, overseas. Meanwhile, many USA engineering schools are charging a tuition premium for software engineers (and other engineers) to become educated.
The H1B program has replaced Civil-War Slavery as a way to indenture software engineers and force them to work for the same company for 7 years. What American companies are complaining about is that they don't have a way to get slave-labor for 100% of their workforce, like a Southern Plantation had in the 1840's. My previous employer had roughly 4,000 employees (40% of their engineering workforce) from the H1B program, and that wasn't enough for them. They had a fulltime army of salaried lawyers to run their "H1B factory" at a big discount to smaller companies. They wanted 100% H1B workers, they had to hire 60% of their engineers domestically, which was 60% too many. The CEO was just given a $95M pay package whilst 1000 layoffs were announced, all the ones I knew about were American-born, that was his way of funding his obscene pay package.
Software Engineering has become a field that rewards foreigners and penalizes domestically grown engineers who work hard and play by the rules and borrow heavily to fund their wildly overpriced American educations.
The Taulbee survey is a very precise survey of PhD, MS, and BS production in computer science, by ~150 CS departments nationwide.. If you read it I think you will notice that graduate student production is at an all-time high, university hiring is at an all-time low, and BS production is re-approaching the bubble levels of 2001-2004. These are all signs of a surfeit, NOT a shortage...