On-the-job training is not available for the majority of technical professionals - unless you have a visa the company can hold.
In the '70 & 80's high tech jobs were paths to upward mobility, especially for women and minority groups. Veterans were scooped up immediately, regardless of their race. The reason I was able to break into the industry was due to a labor shortage. I was a smart kid and they gave me a break! Labor shortages always advantage disenfranchised groups.
Congress should allow companies to solve their staffing problems the old-fashioned way – thru in house training, giving smart kids a break, and using the Human Bonding method of transferring knowledge to the young upstarts.
H1-B: tech knowledge transfer via Human Bonding
Tthe IT industry is highly exclusionary and government programs like the H1-B provide the best guarantee that the Human Bonding method of knowledge transfer - mentoring - will result in a worker remaining with the company for at least 3 years. ALL H1-B’s go through a training period – some are even trained by their replacements!
Training is rarely provided to IT professionals – they are expected to “hit the ground running” and we do! f this training were provided to you or me, there would be no guarantee that we couldn’t be snatched away in one day by another tech company who needs that skill or experience. The H1-B program substantially lowers the risk that a tech professional will seek employment elsewhere during his stay.
The H1-B program legally creates a glass ceiling. Once the job is removed from the domestic workforce with approval by the Department of Labor, federal hiring guidelines can legally be circumvented. It also creates a glass floor where technical knowledge will never flow. So in this scenario, how does a sharp kid get a break?
Now, the tech knowledge transfer is the part that’s so devastating to the US workforce. The H1-B and the L1- programs are the crucial players in successful offshoring. Without transferring technical knowledge via the Human Bonding method, the company cannot offshore the job. This very intensive training takes at least 6 months to 1 year.
Tech Firm’s Project Driven Business Model needs H1-B’s
The vast majority of tech work is now project driven. In fact, this business model has evolved in tandem with the H1-B program. This project-driven business model is dependent on long-term temporary labor, similar to major construction projects. So we now have the majority of tech guys (their increasingly guys now) who are hired like tradesmen – all qualified the day they start, work for 6 months to 3 years, and are then let go.
This would be a good model if we were unionized, since the union would get us the jobs, negotiate our rate and mentor the young upstarts via union-provided training. Providing skilled labor and providing knowledge transfer would be the union’s responsibility – not the governments or the tech firm’s.
Instead, the government via the H1-B program provides skilled labor and training. So in this model, how does a smart kid get a break?
The End of Aspiration
The H-B program is crucial in constricting opportunities into the Digital Economy for citizens, green card holders, and even the undocumented. This is part of the reason the Gen-X'ers have limited opportunities.
Sharp kids that got breaks created the computer industry. We were trained by the company, mentored and furthered our education. We were ordinary folks who took the opportunity and ran with it.
The tide was turned in 2004. The combination of loss of jobs, offshoring and the reservation of jobs via the LCA database means that the next generation of average technical kids must have an easy path to immigrate – especially to India.