Gates: Swing Open The Talent Door
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    Your opinion?

    TMT


    Gates: Swing Open The Talent Door
    By Roy Mark
    March 7, 2007


    WASHINGTON -- Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told a Senate panel today U.S. immigration policies are slamming the door in the faces of the best and brightest talent at a time when America needs them the most.

    It's a door he wants to swing wide open.

    Testifying before a committee investigating American global competitiveness, Gates criticized visa policies that restrict foreign-born U.S. college graduates from working in the U.S. and limit citizenship or permanent residency opportunities for scientists and engineers.

    "It makes no sense to tell well-trained, highly skilled individuals – many of whom are educated at our top universities -- that they are not welcome here," Gates said. "We have to welcome the great minds in this world, not shut them out of our country."

    Gates was particularly critical of H1B visa policies, a non-immigrant classification used by foreigners who are sponsored and employed in specialty fields like technology. In the late 1990s, the government granted almost 200,000 H1B visas a year. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress, citing national security concerns, slashed the number to fewer than 70,000 a year.

    "Scientists like Albert Einstein were born abroad but did great work here because we welcomed them," Gates said. "The contributions of such powerful intellects have been vital to many of the great breakthroughs made right here in America."

    In the 2007 federal fiscal year, the 65,000 H1B visa allotments ran out four months before the year began. In 2008, H1B visa allotments are projected to be exhausted before college spring graduation ceremonies.

    "So for the first time ever, we will not be able to seek H1Bs for this year's graduating students," Gates said. "Students can't apply until they get a degree and then they [visas] are already gone.

    "We need to encourage the best students from abroad to enroll in our colleges and universities and remain here when they finish their studies," he said. "Today we take exactly the opposite approach."

    The push for increasing H1B visas has been an agenda topper for the technology industry for several years. While many members of Congress have endorsed the idea of increasing the H1B cap, the issue is tied to the larger, politically sensitive topic of immigration reform where Congress remains deadlocked.

    Two years ago, Gates came to Capitol Hill and made a similar pitch to lawmakers, suggesting Congress simply "get rid" of the H1B cap. Wednesday morning, he returned to that theme.

    "I think it might not be realistic, but there shouldn't be any limit," he said. "I guarantee that the IT industry will be here to extend invitations to the smart people."

    Gates also said if the government doesn't make it easier for foreign scientists and engineers to obtain permanent U.S. residency, the talent would flow to India and China. Currently, obtaining a green card can take up to five years.

    "We should expedite the path [for foreign workers] into our workforce and into permanent resident status," Gates said. "These employees are vital to U.S. competitiveness, and we should encourage them to become permanent U.S. residents so they drive innovation and growth alongside America's native-born talent."

    Beyond visa issues, Gates said the U.S. needs to increase its math and science education for grades K-12 and increase funding for all levels of research and development, including enacting a permanent R&D tax credit.

    He also said any set of goals for global competitiveness should begin with fixing the problems in the U.S. educational system, noting that the U.S. has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the industrialized world.

    "Unless we transform the American high school, we will limit economic opportunities for millions of young Americans," Gates said. "We must equip America's students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in today's knowledge economy."

    While praising the achievements of American technology in such areas as computing, health care, telecommunications and manufacturing, Gates said he is unsure the U.S. will remain a world leader without fundamental reforms.

    "Too often, it seems we are content to live off the investments that previous generations made," he said. "We are failing to live up to our obligations to make the investments needed to make sure the U.S. remains competitive in the future.

    "My feeling of pride is mixed with deep anxiety."

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    The Bill Gates Lie

    "Microsoft founder Bill Gates told Washington Post columnist David Broder that the types of people they were bringing in on H-1B Visas, are:


    Highly paid, highly qualified individuals. Salaries for these jobs at Microsoft start at about $100,000 a year.
    Their counterparts can be hired more cheaply in China or India, he said, but Microsoft does 85 percent of its research and development work in the United States because it wants its computer scientists interacting directly with its program managers and its marketing people on its own campus.

    Gates was pounding the halls of Congress at the time of this interview, demanding more H-1B Visas along with the ITAA.

    Unfortunately for Bill Gates, when a Corporation sponsors a green card, they must publish the actual salary along with the application.

    From the graph above and the table below, only 3.3%, or 40 employees, of the 1202 total green card applications submitted by Microsoft had wages above $100k.

    In fact, more applications, 8.3%, or 92 employees, were paid salaries below $60k. Most of the jobs titles of the 1202 applications were Software Engineer, an entry level job indicator.

    The median salary for all was $71k, well below the $100k that Bill Gates touted in his claim of a great shortage of "talent" in America (read cheap, controllable and young).

    The job title "Software Engineer" is an entry level job position, such a role would never be given to the level of expertise that Bill Gates claims he is obtaining through his cheap labor H-1B Visa."

    Bill - "SPIN" - Gates


    Steve

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    Hmm. That skunk. I know of one company that
    is actually *doing* what bill says he is, but
    isn't. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Jim

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    71k is still hardly slave labour... even if you're native to this country.

    But then again, I'm all for open borders, so what do I know?

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    "71k is still hardly slave labour... even if you're native to this country."

    Depends are what part of the country you live in. 71k doesn't go very far around here, considering 10k of your NET can easily be chewed up pay property taxes on a basic cape or ranch style house.

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    I think the real point was, Mr. Bill was
    banging the drum about how important it is
    to treat the H1B visa folks super nice, but
    in reality he's using them as cut-rate labor.

    The real reason Mr. Bill is banging the drum is,
    the immigration policies are costing him $$$.

    [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Basically he's figured out a way to offshore
    jobs, by importing the folks to the mainland!

    Jim

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    An interesting side effect of Bill Gates and his hiring of H1B visa holders- there is a big shortage of doctors in rural areas as a result.
    For many years, american doctors have refused to practice family medicine in small towns- they much prefer more profitable niches like plastic surgery, or athletic medicine, or heart sugery.
    Since 1994, most small towns in rural america have been getting doctors one way- by J-1 Visas, which enable foreign doctors to stay in the USA if they practice in a qualifying rural area for a few years.
    Over 1000 doctors a year come to towns that otherwise would have NO health care.

    But since Bill has lobbyied for expanding the H1B, many foreign doctors find they can get one of those instead-and the H1B has no requirement that you practice in a small town- so the foreign doctors go straight to New York, and LA, and get right into those profitable tummy tucks and stent jobs.

    Small towns have jobs going begging- I know in my state, a couple of rural clinics just cant find anybody, jobs go unfilled.

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    Small towns have jobs going begging- I know in my state, a couple of rural clinics just cant find anybody, jobs go unfilled.
    This is happening in a lot of rural areas. The income isn't as good as in the past. Medicare/Medicaid doesn't pay as well.

    The outgo in the form of wages for paperwork compliance and malpractice insurance, is crushing doctors. Here in PA we're losing doctors in "high risk" specialties right and left. They're moving away.

    Gene

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    "We should expedite the path [for foreign workers] into our workforce and into permanent resident status," Gates said. "These employees are vital to U.S. competitiveness, and we should encourage them to become permanent U.S. residents so they drive innovation and growth alongside America's native-born talent."
    Unfortunately these lads and ladies from distant shores also discourage many from attending Grad School. Why bother busting hump when some H-1B visa holder will eat your lunch at a discount?

    Beyond visa issues, Gates said the U.S. needs to increase its math and science education for grades K-12 and increase funding for all levels of research and development, including enacting a permanent R&D tax credit.
    The R&D tax credit makes some sense.

    Giving more money to unionized school teachers who have never seen the inside of a factory, office or software company makes less sense.

    I think relaxing standards for teachers would do the same thing for education that Gates wants for software - reduce costs and improve quality. Mandating "education credits" to be a teacher is silly. All that means is you got properly indoctrinated - wee!

    He also said any set of goals for global competitiveness should begin with fixing the problems in the U.S. educational system, noting that the U.S. has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the industrialized world.

    "Unless we transform the American high school, we will limit economic opportunities for millions of young Americans," Gates said. "We must equip America's students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in today's knowledge economy."
    Yeah, tell that to the NEA, which seems more concerned with a "uniform minimum wage" for teachers than basic core competency in the subjects that they teach.

    While praising the achievements of American technology in such areas as computing, health care, telecommunications and manufacturing, Gates said he is unsure the U.S. will remain a world leader without fundamental reforms.

    "Too often, it seems we are content to live off the investments that previous generations made," he said. "We are failing to live up to our obligations to make the investments needed to make sure the U.S. remains competitive in the future.

    "My feeling of pride is mixed with deep anxiety."
    Me, too, Bill. A little less "social activism" in areas like gun control and a little more activism in areas like training teachers to be more sympathetic to business would be helpful.

    Well, at least the Gates Foundations are working on diseases like malaria.

    Gene

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    I think the real point was, Mr. Bill was
    banging the drum about how important it is
    to treat the H1B visa folks super nice, but
    in reality he's using them as cut-rate labor.
    There's another side to the story, Jim.

    A lot of people from Asia and Eastern Europe are "hungry". They'll do eleven and twelve hour days. Their spouses and family are supportive of this kind of effort.

    Combine this with the lower wage requirements of an H-1B visa and you're talking some major productivity gains over "domestic" labor which has "lifestyle issues" or wants a paycheck but won't strain for it.

    Gene

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    It's the *same* side gene. You and I are again
    in violent agreement. But gates is being a
    hypocrite about it. He basically just wants to
    jigger the system to make more money.

    As far as teachers goes, where are you gonna
    rustle all those teacher up? There seems to
    be a considerable shortage in some spots in the
    US - sorta like that doctor thing.

    Your 'plan' of giving them less money and having
    them attend republican indoctrinations classes
    is only going to make the problem worse. Folks
    will stay away from that career path in droves
    if you do that.

    Jim

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    I own a company that writes software in the State of Washington (we also do electrical and mechanical engineering). . . and in this great state - there is no income tax although the cost of living is high / not likely as high as some places in NY. As a small company - I compete head to head with Bill for employees. As such, I have a different perspective than most of you.

    I can run an ad for a starting Mechanical Engineering Position for a kid fresh out of school with zero experience at $55k a year to start + 5% 401k + up to 10% profit sharing bonus + full health, vision and dental insurance and get ZERO responses from a degreed engineer with American citizenship - but I get two dozen responses for new graduates looking for a company to sponsor an H1B Visa within the first few days - many of whom have written software web crawlers to scan the web for entry level jobs.

    Under H1B Visa rules - you pay a prevailing wage ($53k/year for an entry level Mechanical Engineer +/- regional adjustments) and you pay up to an additional $5k - $6k in legal and filing fees to get the individual set up. The visa is good for 3 years and then you do it all over again. Max stay is 6 years.

    If you fire the person, you are required to continue paying them until you pay their way back to the home country or until they find a new job (their choice).

    While I can't defend Billy's comments related to $100k jobs - I can say that there is a significant shortage of US citizens graduating from colleges today with skills needed for basic engineering jobs let alone skilled software development jobs.

    Anyone looking for a decent mid-level Mechanical Engineering job?

    I saw a report last month showing a deficit of 60,000 gradutes in engineering and computer science last year in comparison to job demand in the United States.

    The same study showed China and India together having over a 300,000 graduate surplus each year in their respective countries.

    Our education system and the value that our culture places on technical skills is more to blame than anything.

    Pinch off the supply of technical talent at Microsoft and watch Bill move his operation to India . . . one good thing about that scenario - land values will plummet in Washington State and we wont have to worry about someone with an Indian accent not really knowing what they are talking about when they answer the support line for your Windows product.

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    supply and demand, motion - apparently $55K ain't enough.

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    gene, "A lot of people from Asia and Eastern Europe are "hungry". They'll do eleven and twelve hour days. Their spouses and family are supportive of this kind of effort".
    gene 12 hour shifts is the norm in uk manufacturing, ive been doing 12 hours for nearly 20 years, more leisure time would be nice but if you want a job then those are the terms, your family dont get much choice, yes the uk is supposed to be family orintated but when the govt introduced working hours the industry board kindly introduced a cop out clause for manufacturing, they even covered christmas working, i get to work Cristmas eve, Christmas day, boxing day, new years eve and new years day this year, however i do get boxing day off next year, in the east european countries they get 16 hour days, those hurt ive tried them, i'm not moaning as i'm happt to have a job that is reasonably paid, the alternative sucks, thats the attraction of britain to workers from europe, best of luck to them.
    best wishes
    mark

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    Sounds like you are working for the wrong company, my boss has to beg me to do anything beyond my basic 8 hr day.

    There again, from previous experience , I know how much 12hr working 6/7 takes out of you and I'm not prepared to do it
    I ended up running on automatic and losing any contact with people apart from the guys I worked with .... any grip on reality or sanity also went out the door*

    As for not having the right techie or engineering people to fill jobs, how many of us here council our friends and relatives not to go into engineering because in 99% of engineering jobs, the pay sucks and the condictions are even worse.

    Fancy doing 5-7 yrs training to work in a hot humid noisey factory for $36K when you could do 3 yrs training and work ina a nice A/C office earning the same?

    Boris

    *My grip on reality and sanity never came back [img]tongue.gif[/img]

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    Ah, gene, it's not uncommon for me to work
    11-12 hour days. H1B visa folks I think work
    even *more* here.

    What motion guru said about, the US simply
    is not graduating folks in science, math or
    engineering. He is pointing out the beginning
    of the end, see also the "can america stay on
    top" thread.

    Gene you can rant all you want, but that does not
    make more or better teachers, that does not
    get folks into engineering. What happens when
    the H1B visa folks simply *stay* *home* because
    the job opportunities are better in their own
    country?

    Jim

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    as ozzy osbourne once commented, " of all the things i've lost in life its my sanity that i miss the most" how true, after a couple of years of 12 hour days running on automatic is a problem, too many good people have ended up dead that way, the simplest task can be dangerous, ive been woking on a casting floor looked up to find a gantry had just gone over my head with a 500 ton ladle of molten steel at 1400 degrees, and i know the driver was as tired as i was, we didnt see each other and i was getting puzzled how i didnt see it.
    regards
    mark

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    Jim - your point about job opptys being better in the home lands is starting to come around. This will go along with pricing becoming more competitive and the leveling of economies. When this happens we will all be closer to a level playing field. Lets hope we don't have to rebuild everything from scratch before this happens.

    Super Alloy - you are likely right . . . $55k right out of college for an ME grad seems a far cry from the $26k / year I was offered in 1988 right out of school. I guess that was 20 years ago . . . I must be getting old.

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    Been there, done that. I am a mechanical engineer with a specialty in energy engineering. New England is at the end of the energy pipeline, but there are few real enegy engineering jobs in New England. There are not a lot of energy jobs elsewhere, either. In fact, in the last 15 years, I was without a job for 5 years.

    Go ahead, show me your shortage of engineers. We graduate exactly the number of engineers we need. If we needed more, salaries would go up, and companies would be more willing to hire.

    One of the problems is "salary compression", where the time rate of increase of salary is less as experience increases, so that experienced engineers are worth proportionally less than new grads.

    As I see it, we basically a throwaway market for engineers. After you have 10 years experience, you are not worth much to a company. New grads are more cost effective. Employers of engineers are always looking for fresh blood. What happens to the experienced engineers? Many of the ones I have known try hard to get into management, where they may be more effective than they were as engineers, and then, they may not be.

    Think of the crisis we would have in medical care if we did that. I have also seen examples where more experienced doctors are more effective in curing medical problems.

    No, I do not think Microsoft needs a lot more programmers. As I understand it, Unix was developed by one person at Bell Labs, and improved by another. Two experienced computer engineers (and maybe a few helpers). Linux was done by one person. Microsoft seems to design software that is overly complex. This complexisty may be one reason why they need so many people.

    H1B visas may cut costs in the short run. If engineering salaries are kept low by H1B visas, fewer Americians will want to go to engineering schools. This may result in companies becoming increasingly dependent upon foreign engineers.

    Thermo1

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    Motion Guru,
    I know two young engineers. One is a nephew, who got his degree in materials engineering abut 8 years ago. He is going to Business School, and intends to get out of engineering. He wants more money than engineering can pay. This may be part of the so-called shortage of engineers.

    The other is my son, who is a Junior in Electrical Engineering. At age 4 1/2, he looked at my Universal Milling Machine, and asked me why the table turned. I think he has the makings of a good engineer. His problem will be finding jobs that challange him. Since he also has a good understanding of economics, he may also leave engineering for something that pays more.

    Money and challange to the skills of a good engineer may be the sticking points to finding and keeping good engineers.

    I read you ad, and it looks to be an interesting job.

    Thermo1


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