Leaching off last week’s DNC Convention, tech industry-behemoths Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon hosted a mini-conference amidst the gathering elite aimed at building awareness of the supposed lack of tech-education among America’s youth. The policy-push comes off Microsoft’s ‘National Talent Strategy’ hatched a few years back; an initiative which the company’s own general counsel apparently admitted was nothing but a ‘manufactured crisis’ really geared to serve the industry’s H-1B immigration agenda. Indeed, if America really did have an ‘education crisis’ in the STEM-fields, why do so many of the hundreds of thousands of H-1B professionals imported here every year come from places that do far worse educationally than we do?
The H-1B program was created in 1990 following claims from the then-brand new tech lobby that American professionals with sufficient tech-skills were in short supply. Twenty-five years on, that labor market-shortage has apparently still not been corrected with the industry spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year lobbying Congress to import more and more tech-professionals from abroad. But this recent push of the ‘K-12 crisis’-narrative may be signalling a messaging-pivot from the industry. This would only make sense. With negative stories abound in the media this past election cycle, from lawsuits and congressional inquiries into Disney and SoCal Edison’s mass layoffs to the flurry of bills being introduced to curb H-1B abuses, even reliably globalist news outlets such as the New York Times and Huffington Post have come around on this issue. Recently, the latter attacked top officials within the Obama State Department for fast-tracking thousands of Indian H-1B visa applications in 2011 in violation of federal law.
The Indian allegation is an important one. Recently, the Immigration Reform Law Institute obtained government records showing that between FY2013 and May of this year, almost one million H-1B petitions for imported white collar-workers were approved by DHS officials. And of all those successful petitions, a whopping 70 percent went to white collar-workers from India. This isn’t exactly surprising. BigTech loves Indian workers; not only because English is India’s national language, but because the workforce there is young (and therefore cheap). Unsurprisingly then, according to DHS-data almost three-quarters of petitions awarded to professionals in 2011 went to those aged between 25 and 34—Gender discrimination’s also likely. Although DHS says it doesn’t track gender-data, one labor association’s estimated that at least 80 percent of H-1B petitions go to men.
But if the H-1B program really is meant to correct the failings of our education system, as BigTech’s new messaging-push implies, why is it importing so many people from India? According to results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a global standardized math and science assessment sponsored by the OECD, India scored almost dead last among the 74 countries tested. The results were apparently so embarrassing, the country pulled out of the program all together. Not surprisingly then, there isn’t a single Indian university that appears within the top 250 spots of the World University Rankings Survey. And unlike American bachelor’s degrees, obtaining a bachelor’s in India takes only three years of study.
If the H-1B program was truly designed to import smarter, and not merely cheaper workers, tech companies like Microsoft would be importing Finns and Koreans, two nationalities that regularly top PISA score-rankings. So, is it skilled workers that companies like Microsoft can’t find enough of, or is it cheap workers?
But let’s say BigTech’s right and there aren’t enough young people going into STEM. Could it be that young American students are avoiding the STEM fields, particularly in computer science, due to years of stagnant wages? Could it be that the many millions of foreign white collar-workers who’ve been dropped into our labor markets have created a kind of internal brain drain where American students are actually exiting or avoiding the tech field for other career paths?
Among Microsoft executives at least, there may be one genuine area of shortage in America today: patriots.