Re: FWD/MEDIA: High-tech Firms Seek To End Cap On Foreign Workers

Wed, 25 Feb 1998 15:25:07 -0500

| I am no fan of immigration quotas, because I'm a big believer in the free
| market. However, the so-called "high-tech labor shortage" is more horseshit
| than reality. The basic fact is, most high-tech managers can't accept the
| fact that their "underlings" are actually worth more than they are, and
| therefore are unwilling to pay them what they're worth. That's the
| foundation of this "labor shortage". These clowns (managers) are just
| looking for cheap labor, so they can pay them less than they're worth, and
| they're worth a lot more than them.

I agree here. The responses are predictable by the law of supply and demand.
Microsoft wants to increase the supply of labor so they can pay them less.
Let's face it -- if the US gave a green card to every programmer in the world,
MS would still claim there is a labor shortage. IEEE, representing labor,
wants to limit the supply to labor to increase its costs.

The following generalizations are based on my experiences at several companies
over a long period, and the experiences of many of my associates.

1. Many managers underestimate the flexibility of engineers to learning new
skills. This is especially true in the "Human Resources" departments.
For instance, if a company is looking for someone to program in language
Z, a CS major who knows A, B and C, but not Z, is going to have trouble
convincing the suit that he can pick up Z quickly, even though A, B, and C
are similar to Z and most programming languages have similar concepts.
The suit doesn't know any better, and can't tell whether the interviewee
has a valid argument or is just B.S.-ing to get the job. After all, if the
suit knew enough to know the difference, the company would move him over
to the programming groups (after all, there *is* a "labor shortage,"
remember?). The suit will probably say, "sorry, we're specifically
looking for someone who knows Z, and you don't know Z."

2. Let's say Z is new, and the market has decided this is the new "hot"
technology every company just *has* to have. Existing employees probably
don't know Z, because they started working for the company before Z
became "hot," or even before Z was invented. The managers won't take
the engineers aside, throw them a few good books on Z and tell them to
take a week off and learn Z, because that would divert them from their
current assignments, which are probably behind schedule (because of the
"labor shortage," no doubt), and also because of point #1 above.
Instead, they whine that their current employees are useless because
they don't know Z, and they need to look for the lucky percentage of
New College Graduages (NCG's) who happened to learn Z in their class,
rather than X or Y.

Kevin Theobald |You can find a ready guide in some celestial voice
School of |If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
Computer Science|You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
McGill University|I will choose a path that's clear -- I will choose free will
Montreal, Canada | Rush -- "Free Will" -- _Permanent_Waves_