Their sole purpose was to stop the big increases in engineering salaries happening in the 80s. If US universities are so bad, then why do foreign students flock to them? If US engineers are so bad then why isn't the US being left behind? Most of the time when US companies fell behind, like in the automotive industry in the 70s, it wasn't the engineers. It was the business school trained managers with degrees in finance who wanted things made cheaply and uniformly (cadillacs with chevy motors) to take advantage of "economies of scale". How did all those lousy US engineers produce so much of what we take for granted today in the electronics and software world? Did somebody just flick a switch and every US student became an idiot?
Most of the work done by H-1Bs is not high level work requiring special talent. It is low level garbage like "software test". I know I did this work before I retired to stay employed after the defense blow out of the 1990s. Anybody with an AA degree in CS and some decent ability could do what I did and I had an MS. We hired plenty of H-1Bs, to do even less sophisticated work that never actually looked at the underlying hardware and stayed at the high level language level.
In the 1990s the PhDs went to Wall Street becuase salaries for science and engineering talent had not kept pace with the rest of the business world and they could make far more money on Wall Street. Most engineers and scientists are not on the factory floor, they are in R&D labs or developing the prototypes that will be put into production. If the pay in engineering what was what it should be, they would still be at the company R&D facilities and not on Wall Street.
In the real world of aquiring talent, 10K per employee is peanuts. The idea that 10K is such a large hurdle that keeps companies from hiring H-1Bs flies in the face of what recruitment costs are. What does it cost to relocate an employee from another part of the country? When I was at Hughes Aircraft Company and they decided to move their engineering from California to Arizona they gave every engineer a 30K relocation package and valuable employees were given extras under the table. That was in 1994 after the devastation of the defense industry when people should have been willing to move themselves to keep their jobs. With inflation what is 30K worth today - 50 , 80, or 100K?
Interesting article, but unfortunately it's an article pushing for immigration reform. As such, it conflates two totally different discussions: the need to attract capable STEM talent and the much bigger problem of uncontrolled, illegal immigration.
Still, though, it cannot be impossible to confirm or deny that half of young STEM graduates cannot find STEM jobs?
Why are we as practicing Scientists & Engr.s falling for all the white noise being put out by the Corp.s, Politicians and their PR people re: Supply & Demand of STEM grads ? Are n't we supposed to be clear - headed enough to look at confusing ( " purposely " ? ) data and extract the true root cause for problems ? Isn't that what we do most of the time at work ? The truth is that US Corp.s, their MBAs and their Wall St. Money Managers take the domestic customer base ( thats us ) for granted, they want the extra profit by spreading into fresh markets overseas. To do so competitively they need to cut costs and one way to do so is create a surplus of STEM grads here so salaries can be driven down / import H1 B Visa holders who would not demand a fair wage. Yet US Corp.s want to maintain their HQs in the US as their Sr. Executives and their families want to enjoy the safe and predictable lifestyle in the US. Given such a situation we must ask ourselves can we afford to remain above the fray or do we have to alter our own priorities and behavior to protect our own marketability and maintain a predictable lifestyle for our own families.
jwilkins1, I agree with you about work ethic. I have told my children that the way my generation differentiated themselves was through education. That's not the case anymore. Everyone gets an education, and 4-year universities are more than willing to churn out graduates (for the price of admission!) Now, just one generation later, the big driver will not be education, but work ethic. I am teaching my children, foremost, to be hard workers. I expect that with that, they will be able to succeed in the work force.
High school STEM students have many college options and work options. So do college level STEM students. But they do not WANT to work in high tech factories in many cases.
In 1990's we found that many Berkelely EE-CS PHD students actually planned to go on to Wharton School of Finance and become Wall Street techie-analysts. Few PhD's really ever wanted to work in a factory it seemed. (Its worse now of course, and engineers need education at highest level to get any kind of job in this market.)
Technical companies will not hire the "STEM" students in lower half of their class it seems, thus the 50 percent number? [Asian STEM students don't mind factory work as part of their career path.] So its not about wages, its about real skill levels and real goals on both sides in my opinion. And with massive automation now days, fewer engineers are needed in operations, more in design and applications support.
Reality: Only the very best get big money jobs as scienctists or engineers. But non-technical CEO's do very well. So communications, finance and language skills may be more important in future than advanced technical degrees. And since that is well known, we can expect continuing HIB searches and lots of layoffs as companies search for the "best and brightest."
My advice to STEM students? Learn two languages. Learn public speaking. Learn at least one useful computer language, like Python or R. Get a trade skill while still in high school, keep it up to date as an option during bad times.
I suspect that industry prefers to hire foreign workers with H-1B visas for a very simple reason--they'll work for lower wages. I can't quote statistics to prove this, but IEEE can. Compared to lawyers, engineers are significantly underpaid. Maybe our lawyer-politicians who vote for increasing H-1B visa quotas instead should open immigration to foreign lawyers who would probably work for half as much as the typical domestic law shool grad.
I was a graduate student in the late 1960s at Princeton University's Gas Dynamics Laboratory. One quarter, i.e. 10 of the total of 40 graduate students in the Lab were from Taiwan. All were on US government sponsored scholarships such as Fulbrights. These programs were intended to educate foreign nationals to improve their home country's economy as a bulwark against Communist expansion. However, none of these foreign students had any desire to return home to Taiwan. In fact, they spent most of their spare time trying to figure out how to avoid going home, aided and abetted by faculty members who were also from Taiwan. Besides, the subject of study was high-speed gas dynamics, i.e. rocket science. Taiwan needed rice farmers, not rocket scientists. Things may be different now, 45 years later, but I"ll bet most foreign tech workers here on H-1B visas have no intention of returning to their native country.
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