Hiring Foreign Graduates in Science and Technology Is Good for Business

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 24, 1998 | Go to article overview

Hiring Foreign Graduates in Science and Technology Is Good for Business


In "Tech firms defend role of foreign workers" (Oct. 12), your paper unfortunately chooses to follow the path of sensationalism, perpetuating negative stereotypes that we Americans have of low-paid, exploited immigrant workers taking jobs away from deserving U.S. workers.

What the article fails to emphasize fully is that the information-technology industry, where many of these jobs exist, is evolving continually. A job skill that was hot a few years ago may be ho-hum today, and a skill that was unheard of two years ago may be the one that is in demand immediately. The result is that many of our existing U.S. workers are left with job skills that need polishing or updating to meet the requirements of the newest projects. The problem, of course, is that when an employer needs workers with the latest skills, it seldom has the time to wait for U.S. workers to retrain and gain experience with the newer platform. In the end, the most viable option is to fill those jobs with fresh talent, whether it be home-grown in U.S. universities or imported from abroad.

The reason so many of these workers come from abroad is that foreign universities are turning out science and infotech graduates at a pace that far outdistances that of our universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by2005, nearly 1 million new computer scientists and engineers, systems analysts and computer programmers will be needed in the United States, but the number of U.S. graduates in the requisite fields numbers only about 25,000 per year, a good number of whom are foreign nationals. In contrast, countries such as India and China are producing more than twice this number every year. Needless to say, the firms most likely to be able to snare these graduates are foreign companies. Does this make them exploitative? Hardly. In today's global marketplace, it makes them sharp and visionary.

Not surprisingly, the company that your article skewers, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), is one of the sharpest at recruiting and nurturing this talent. …

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