US needs better human resources directors, not foreign workers

Problems in hiring high-tech workers at big corporations are driving the push for amnesty in the immigration reform debate.

Big businesses say they need to import more foreign workers trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics because they can’t find U.S. citizens and legal residents to fill the jobs. Democrats will not vote for importing more workers unless they get amnesty for the 11 million to 20 million low-skill undocumented workers. So big donors and political action committees like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are lighting fires under Republicans to pass immigration reform.

But maybe U.S. companies need to hire qualified human resources directors who know how to find the estimated 11.4 million U.S. citizens trained in high-tech fields who are not working in those jobs now. Is the problem a recruitment failure?

In a 2013 article, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers suggested the United States has all the skilled workers it needs.

“[T]here are more STEM workers than suitable jobs. One study found, for example, that wages for U.S. workers in computer and math fields have largely stagnated since 2000,” institute officials wrote in an article published in its Spectrum journal. “Even as the Great Recession slowly recedes, STEM workers at every stage of the career pipeline, from freshly minted grads to mid- and late-career Ph.D.s, still struggle to find employment as many companies, including Boeing, IBM, and Symantec, continue to lay off thousands of STEM workers.”

The Washington Post made a similar assessment the same year, saying the United States has “more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations.”

The Post article quoted study by the Economic Policy Institute that found many computer science graduates reporting that they couldn’t find jobs in their computer disciplines.

“About 15 million U.S. residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline, but three-fourths of them –11.4 million — work outside of STEM,” the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers reported.

Perhaps the institute should set up a nationwide job bank to help employers find the high-tech professionals companies say don’t exist.


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