Bill Gates: Counterproductive Immigration Policies Promote Outsourcing

June 22, 2011

Talking on the topic of outsourcing, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said that US high-tech firms have little choice but to outsource jobs abroad due to immigration restrictions that are outdated.

Gates was speaking to a congressional panel when he said that the US immigration system makes it difficult for U.S. companies to attract and retain skilled immigrants.

According to Gates, Congress has not passed reform legislation in high-skilled immigration and this making it challenging for high tech firms to find necessary talent. He was commenting on prepared remarks to be addressed at a hearing of the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee.

Gates added that U.S. tech firms are opting to outsource projects overseas when the same type of work could be done at home. This is true of Microsoft as well. This strategy is a direct result of immigration policies that are counterproductive, he said. Recently, there was a visa fee hike that makes it more expensive for workers to come and work in the U.S. Additionally, there is controversy surrounding curbs on the H-1B visa. The cap on the H1B for high-skilled staff is insufficient to address the needs of tech companies.

He said that a H1B visa limit of 65,000 is set arbitrarily and has no bearing on the current demand for skilled workers in the U.S. economy. Gates commented that in 2008, Microsoft was not able to obtain H-1B visas for 33% of highly-skilled foreign-born job candidates that the Redmond, Washington firm had planned to intake.

Gates hypothesized that if the number of H-1B visas required for U.S. firms, jobs for U.S. nationals would also grow in tandem. As an example, Microsoft hires four extra workers for every H1B visa person who is hired from a foreign country. This added number of employees is required to work in added capacities.

In addition, Gates urged for a resurgence of science and math as priorities in the education system in order to develop a new pool of tech leaders; this would counter a trend where students are backing out of these areas. The alternative would be a deficit of skilled workers and an inability to create new jobs.


One Response to “Bill Gates: Counterproductive Immigration Policies Promote Outsourcing”

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