Sunday, April 8, 2007

Indian companies invest millions to train Indian workers - Why don't U.S. companies do the same?

This April 7, 2007 AP article "Back to class at Infosys" reveals how India is handling its shortage of tech workers: Rather than lobbying the Indian goverment for programs that would flood in foreign workers, the employers are spending a fortune to train their domestic workers.

Infosys, for example, spent $350 million on a 500,000-square-foot education complex campus, and will spend $140 million in 2007 alone.

While H-1b proponents allege that H-1b workers from India are the "best and brightest," this article reveals that most are poorly trained: "Indian schools churn out 400,000 new engineers every year, but as few as 100,000 are actually ready to join the job world, experts say."

We face a similar situation in the U.S. where tens of thousands of tech workers with proven records and at least BS degrees cannot find work. Microsoft and other employers summarily reject these applicants as "not a good match" because, for example, they have 5 years of experience in C++ rather than C# - or as subtle age discrimination.

The United States made Bill Gates the richest man in the world. It's time to give back. Rather than abusing your weath to lobby for "unlimited H-1b visas," why not spearhead a similar training complex for U.S. workers?

During the 1990s many U.S. tech companies viewed their workers as long-term investments and provided training to keep their skills current. But the H-1b program turned U.S. tech workers into short-term commodities. And until the flood of H-1b is stemmed, displaced U.S. workers cannot reenter the workforce by simply retraining themselves since employers require at least 1 to 5 years of verifiable on the job experience in specific technologies.

SOLUTION

Congress should suspend the H-1b program until U.S. corporations show the same good faith investment in U.S. workers that Indian companies are giving their workers.

UPDATE: This July 31, 2006 article Infy hires in US, trains in India details how InfoSys runs a six month intensive training program that takes even liberal arts majors and within six months places them on software projects in the U.S. Why can't Microsoft, Google, and Oracle do the same?

3 comments:

Margaret Bartley said...

American companies *are* investing billions of dollars training employees - they just aren't training their American employees.

Jobs follow investments.

About thiry years ago, business magazines and journals were carrying opinions that the US work force was too expensive. By the late 1980's, discussion moved to the idea of training Asian workers in high-tech work.

I remember reading an article in Computer Information Age to my coworkers back about 1988 about training programmers in China, who would work for $50 a month. My co-workers laughed out loud at the idea that China would develop software expertise. I was so shocked at their ignorance, I had to leave the room.

Jobs follow investments. A larger and larger investment of training, education, and R & D has moved to Asia.
At first it was just a few companies (i.e. HewlettPackard, Texas Instruments) that set up development centers in India. A few universities were hired to look at the issues of training Asians in the high-tech culture.

By the early-mid 90's, the foreign financial press reported American computer companies investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in setting up training centers, and funding university chairs. More academic studies were done on lessons-learned, and some were posted to the internet. They have since been removed.

By the mid-late 90's, the foreign finanicial press was reporting millions of dollars being invested *EACH* by Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystem, etc, as well as US tax payers in the form of World Bank and IMF grants (not loans). Bill Clinton and Bill Gates practically crossed paths in August of 2000, each going over to announce millions of $US being put into the infrastructure of India.

Also, by the late 90's, the initial investments in training were turning out hundreds of thousands of students, and the H1-b visa was converted to became the entre to On-The-Job Training in the US for the newly graduatated IIT students.

By the early 2000's, the investments reported in the foreign financial press were on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now, the announcements in the financial press are in the billions of dollars. Google some combination of "billion invest" and then a company and a location: "Microsoft India" or " IBM China" or any combination like that, you will see extensive coverage in the financial press of investments in the billions of dollars.

There is a lag time of more than a decade between when the decisions are announced, and the jobs disappear.

What has happened so far has just been beta-testing the transfer of the high-tech economy to Asia. Full roll-out is now ramping up.

And the thing is, there will be no version of the h1-b visa for Americans who want to go to Asia to work. Once the technology is gone, once the jobs are gone, they are not coming back.

And our politicians know it.

Anonymous said...

If you're dedicated, you'll go to the web, there're tons of FREE tutorials.

It's a waste of money to train the lazy people.

Anonymous said...

I am finding the biggest problem US companies are having with H1B workers are the lies they've created on their resumes. I have heard of so many complaints about fictious work history from Indians that it has certainly created a black eye for the country of India. I myself had to let three good workers go for four H1B contractors only to find that three of those hired were inexperienced. One, of which, was totally inept. What do I tell those I had to let go, two of whom have families to support. When we already have the workers here in the US, and we do, then that's when the H1B program is not good for the American way of life.