Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Even In Tech It Is About Cheap Labor

...high tech industries that need skilled workers complain that (the immigration bill) doesn't give them flexibility to recruit workers with the specific skills they need from abroad.

- WSJ, today

I have worked in tech for nearly two decades and let me tell you a secret: there is no shortage of engineers. There is a shortage of cheap American engineers.

Every job opening that a tech company posts is flooded with resumes. Some of these come from older, experienced American workers who carry a hefty price tag that tech companies don't like to pay. So tech companies instead like to get "H-1b" workers who do the same work at much cheaper pay.

I know specific examples at HP, Broadcom and dozens of other companies where they pay Eastern European engineers 75 cents or less on the dollar. A Korean friend of mine has a personal story he tells where a tech company offered him a job well below market rates. He told them he was a permanent resident (i.e. "Green Card"), not H-1b, at which point they apologized and offered him a higher salary.

So when you hear "not enough U.S. engineers" from U.S. tech companies, don't believe them. All they have to do is pay higher salaries and get U.S. citizens without any problem. I understand wanting to keep costs low, but when companies like HP pay $21 million when they fire a CEO, I have a hard time feeling sympathy.

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