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Re: Lets stop beating around the bush and face the truth squarely
chrisnfolsom   8/19/2013 11:41:36 AM
When you stayed in a company for your entire career (more often) that made sense, businesses were more apt to invest in their employees and think long term.   With employees changing jobs more it has started a spiral in which businesses do less for their employees and the employees have to job hop to do better.  And with businesses looking at employees as expeses instead of profit centers the feelings are mutual.

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Foreign vs. Domestic talent
robotarmy   8/14/2013 12:22:00 PM
My experience is from about 10 years ago, but I share the desire for H1B workers.

I was CTO of an Internet software company in the pre- and post- 2000 era, and so I experienced both when it was impossible to hire and when there were plentiful unemployeed software engineers. I ran several teams of about 40 people total, about 35 engineers.

My top 4 software engineers, who I depended on to get everything done, and who ran architecture as well as core coding were:

1) A British-educated Master of computer science

2) A Brazillian H1B masters of computer science

3) A French H1B Masters of computer science

4) A US software developer, I believe self taught, I think he had a college degree

While #1 had extensive video game console experience coming to us, #2 and #3 came to us striaght out of school - and were fantastic.

Almost consistently, my good US software engineers either 1) had no college degree or 2) had a dis-related college degree and had taught themselves to program

From my own experience at UCLA computer science, which may not represent other top 20 engineering schools, the curriculum was far too theoretical to turn out an engineer who was immediatley usable on a job. In fact, the only UCLA grads I knew who were usable, had worked on side projects throughout school - in essence, they were good engineers before they got there and continued to improve despite the education.

My sampling is only in the 40-50 person range, but it was consistent enough that it still affects my hiring choices today:

1) I prefer foreigners because of their work ehtic (not hours, just discipline at work)

2) I prefer foreigners because of their educational background (to get a masters you had to DO something meaningful, and make a whole system work, not just some theoretical essay on one obscure point)

3) I prefer foreigners because they seemed to have WANTED to study that field (I ran into US engineers whose 'parents told them to study C/S" or "who thought it was a good career choice", not a passion)

4) I prefer foreigners because they get the American dream and overtly stated that the reason they were here is because in the US there's this drive to succeed and that attracted them

I'm 4th generation American, late 19th century, so I don't consider these new Amercians any less American than me. I think you can be American anywhere on earth, if you believe in our values and come to our country and live the American dream and pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you're one of us and welcome here.

Anyway, my two cents.





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Dilbert companies?
betajet   8/8/2013 2:55:49 PM
I wonder how many of these companies who complain that they can't get USA STEM candidates have simply earned themselves the reputation of being bad places to work?  While I haven't tried them myself, I have heard of sites where you can find out about the work environment of companies based on the opinions of people who are working there or have worked there, so it's not like you can keep company culture and disfunction secret.  There are quite a few companies whose management and policies are indistinguishable from Dilbert, and like the PHB they can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to work for them.

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Re: former h1
JeffL_2   8/8/2013 2:03:36 PM
It's not just the CEOs saying it, it's all the "business channel" reporters saying "breaking news, there's three million STEM jobs GOING BEGGING!!" OK call me silly or naive, I briefly undertook a campaign actually emailing some of these clowns to try and get them to exercise a bit of restraint regarding the "industry propaganda" they were willing to spread. It turns out this vicious nonsense is being spread by every "conservative" think tank in DC as well as the "usual suspects" like CEA etc., there's apparently lots of lobbying money supporting this too. I also learned if you try to say something to try and stop immigrants from taking abusively poor salaries, the political right calls you "anti-immigrant" and the left denounces you for trying to prevent them from recruiting more poor people to vote in favor of huge government. In other words it's perfectly hopeless (or it seems that way), every political entity on both sides is not only steadfastly against reasonable tech salaries, they're also foursquare against telling the truth about almost anything having to do with the job market. Lots of luck trying to change things through the ballot box!!

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Re: former h1
RGARVIN640   8/8/2013 1:43:27 PM
Just get VERY tired of all these CEO's saying that they cannot find 'American' STEM employees for their companies. IF they would pay a fair salary then they would have NO problem finding USA citizens to fill the jobs. They want to pay engineers with Master and PH's degrees the same as a BS graduate straight out school. Would not be so bad, but there are MANY qualified people without jobs, and they do not even try to actively recruit them. They go straight to the overseas market and try to bring the H1 canidates. Who they then expect them to work 55-60 hours a week, without even the promise of over time or bonus'es.

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Re: former h1
JeffL_2   8/8/2013 1:09:29 PM
RGARVIN640, just the first sentence of your message ought to be a whole barrel of cold water in the face of the parents of US students, especially the ones who fervently get their kids to enter science fairs and local robotics competitions. The truly sad part about this is they're still in the mode of "oh you can't possibly mean this applies to little Johnny (or Jane), he/she's really SMART!" And you know it doesn't get through until the kid gets the sheepskin and tries to enter the job market, THEN it's all about how they were lied to by all the teachers/guidance counselors etc. Sure these kids have benefitted somewhat from a tech education and can change course later, but it's far easier for some to change course than others who have their entire identity wrapped up in what they succeeded in in school. I predict there's going to be a good-sized chunk of an entire generation headed for extensive psychological analysis, suicides etc. For myself it's just the Cassandra complex deja vu. I'll bet these CEOs who set these salary caps feel just as strongly about their motivations but I'm also sure they'll find ways so they only have to answer to Wall Street analysts, NOT to Johnny's irate parents!

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Re: former h1
RGARVIN640   8/8/2013 9:49:13 AM
Given the current salary structures at most tech companies, the only workers that HR can hire to meet approved budgets are H1's. This is the main problem, as salaries have been flat, to slightly down, for the last 10 years. IF you were a HS student in the top 5% of your class, and you did just a little research on career fields and their salary levels, you would never choose STEM over a Law or finance degree. Just loooking at Ph'd level graduates, the salaries for the the first 5 years are very close, but after the 5 year mark, STEM salary increases flatten out, while those in the law and financial industries continue upward. This is not true for those companies run by engineering and science graduates, but for the majority who work for CEO's who are not, it is a common occurance.

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Everybody is right, it is a complex problem
garydpdx   8/4/2013 10:48:44 AM
It's not just a US problem, other western countries are facing this, too.  Sorry to be late to this discussion but a Pando Daily article that just came out highlights each of the issues/problems:

What is new may be the impact of labor immobility within the US, where the US is (or has been?) one of the most mobile societies on Earth, I'm not sure if it is worse now or that demand has now made it more severe.  I know that a long while ago, at a major firm, we had people decline offers because they preferred to stay in upstate New York.

And I have seen people leave STEM for more lucrative fields.  One friend is an American born and raised in Queens, NY who finished a Ph.D. EE in semiconductor materials, then promptly went to law school, and is now a leading patent attorney based in Manhattan. On LinkedIn this past week, I reconnected with a friend who moved from a great career as a geological engineer to managing a commodities investment fund.  I have told friends not to discourage their childrent from pursuing STEM studies since that knowledge would be valuable in other areas if they don't make it a lifetime career.

The Pando article does have an interesting point from a commenter and that is the issue of talent.  More than once, I have been involved in recruiting for positions (in the US and outside) where all the candidates, domestic or foreign, were AWFUL. Just because someone is local, and available, doesn't mean you can do the job.  There is a level where your passport(s) should NOT be a job qualification.

The IT cheap labor/outsourcing issue is muddling up other areas because someone who gets a visa there means that somebody who (e.g.) solved one of Facebook's posted programming challenges or is recruited by (e.g.) Intel for its semi foundry development (where many positions do require a Ph.D.) don't get one if the quota runs out.  We never hear about those problems in modeling and professional sports (seriously, has anybody heard of a local beer leaguer challenging the move of a NHL hockey player from the main team to the Grand Rapid Griffins?  Or in baseball?).  Maybe the US is trying to do too much with one visa program.

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Re: Better Jobs? Where?
any1   7/29/2013 3:05:25 PM
@mcgrathdylan - These freshly minted engineers at the credit union aren't bundling securties or overseeing mergers and acqusitions, they are just trying to identify what characteristics can be found that can predict certain behaviors of the credit union customers - like defaulting on a loan, not paying the full balance on their credit card, etc.  If the credit Union can identify which of their customers will have certain tendencies (based on data that the credit union has on their past behaviors, or demographics, or whatever other pertinent data they might have about them)  they can optimize their lending practices, or learn to attract certain kinds of new clients (more profitable ones), etc.  These engineers are mostly just following the money. This helps the credit union understand the dynamics of their internal money flow and where, why and how they are making or losing money, and what rates they should be charging  for various services.  The credit union has correctly assumed that it is much harder to teach complex data analysis skills than it is to teach a few relatively simple accounting concepts. 

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Re: Better Jobs? Where?
mcgrathdylan   7/29/2013 2:04:28 PM
@any1- wow. that is very interesting. I am really surprised to hear your neighbor say that engineers make excellent financial analysts without any special training. I mean, engineers are smart and I don't doubt that they make good financial analysts and that they could do a lot of other things well, too. I just figured that with so many people going to school specifically to get a job like that, it's a bit of a surprise to see that a bank would consider hiring a freshly minted engineer who has not studied for that field. I guess I'm glad to know that an engineering graduate has that option open to him or her, but that sounds kind of ominous for the profession, if that avenue and presumably big money are open to them.

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