Many tech companies have called for the U.S. Congress to ease restrictions on high-skill immigration because they can't find qualified tech workers to fill open positions. Yet many veteran IT tech workers say they can't find jobs.
More than a dozen veteran IT workers, contacted through the Programmers Guild and high-skill immigration critic Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California at Davis, say they can't find jobs, with many pointing to a glut of cheap workers available through the H-1B visa program.
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Fifty-year-old Robert Wade, who has been in the tech and engineering fields for 27 years, has worked 10 months out of the last 40, he says. It's been eight months since his last paycheck, even though he has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's in industrial engineering, with an emphasis in human/computer interaction and user interface design.
A recent study from left-leaning think tank, the Economic Policy Institute, backs up claims by Wade and other veteran IT workers. The U.S. has plenty of workers in the science and technology fields, the EPI study says. But only half of U.S. students who graduate in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields gets a job in those fields -- despite the shortage of STEM grads claimed by tech companies, the study said.
The Information Technology Industry Council, a pro-immigration tech trade group, says the EPI study is "replete with faulty data, exaggerated claims, and plain wrong facts." For one, the EPI study relies on 2009 data when the U.S. was still recovering from a recession, says Robert Hoffman, ITI's senior vice president for government relations.