TCTI: Too Crazy To Ignore
Dave Ross
students computer
Hira says if tech companies really wanted American workers, companies could find them. "Enrollments are up in computer science. Enrollments are up in engineering." (AP Photo/File)

Made in America but not by Americans

Part of the new immigration compromise in the Senate would allow as many as 300,000 additional foreign hi-tech workers to come to America and take high paying jobs at companies like Google and Microsoft - with salaries up to 100,000 a year.

Companies say they just can't find Americans with the right skills, which is why they need more of these H1B visas - as they're called.

But Dr. Ron Hira of the Rochester Institute of Technology and an expert on outsourcing says there's no skill gap. It's just that some tech companies are determined to depress wages.

Hira says if tech companies really wanted American workers, companies could find them. "Enrollments are up in computer science. Enrollments are up in engineering," he says.

So I called up the University of Washington and talked to Ed Lazowska who is not only a Professor of Computer Science - he's the Bill and Melinda Gates professor of computer science. He tells a different story.

In the current decade, "There will be 1.3 million available jobs in computer science. The number of graduates qualified for those jobs, produced by American universities is about half that number."

So Lazowska says there is in fact a shortage, and if we don't put more money into our computer science departments there will be an even bigger shortage.

"In my program at the University of Washington, we have to turn away about two-thirds of the students who want to major in computer science," says Lazowska.

But here's the good news.

According to Lazowska, "A student this year who has been doing well in high school and applies to the University of Washington, and heads to the computer science program can be doing an internship at Microsoft or Amazon or Google within year."

No matter which version of the immigration bill passes.

Dave Ross, KIRO Radio Morning News Anchor
Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.
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