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back to index backGLOBALtalk August,  2006


U.S. tech companies cry out for foreign talent

Tighter U.S. immigration policy could have a major impact on the country’s ability to remain competitive, warn the heads of top tech companies. At the peak of the tech boom Silicon Valley executives successfully lobbied for an increase in the number of H-1B visas for highly-educated, foreign-born workers, reports Nicole Ridgway for Forbes. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, however, the government cut the number of H-1B visas by 67% to the pre-boom level of 65,000. In a period of economic decline, many U.S. politicians also feared that giving more jobs to foreigners could prove unpopular, she explains.

Yet a skilled talent pool is the lifeblood of research and development, argue top U.S. tech bosses, whose companies are feeling the squeeze of tighter immigration policies. Although demand for engineering and science graduates has risen over the last two decades, the number of U.S. students in these disciplines has fallen, complain senior executives. Tech companies that are unable to hire homegrown talent will be forced to go abroad, they warn. And what would have happened if foreign-born success stories like the co-founders of Sun Microsystems (Vinod Khosla), Intel (Andy Grove) and Yahoo! (Jerry Yang) had never been allowed into the U.S., asks the author? Tens of thousands of jobs could have been lost, she concludes.

Source: Egon Zehnder International GAI


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