U.S. immigration authorities suspended a program last Friday that expedited visas for skilled workers - a darling class of workers in the tech community. Despite stoking tension in tech companies, it's a relatively routine decision that's happened under administrations past. But it is missing one key piece of information - a timeline - and that could impact businesses.
With IT industry unemployment hovering at around 2.8 percent (as of Q3 2016) and organizations struggling to land talent, many companies find themselves with unfilled jobs. That's a problem not just for individual companies, but for the U.S. economy as a whole, says Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.
“It’s unacceptable that we have so many American women who have these degrees but yet are not being employed in these fields, so I think that’s going to change, and it’s going to change very rapidly. Protecting women with STEM degrees and all Americans with STEM degrees - very important, but it also means you have to crackdown on offshoring, because the offshoring is a tremendous problem that displaces many of our American workers and brains, the brain power,” he said.
While companies based in the United States still dominate chip sales worldwide, only about 13 percent of the world’s chip manufacturing capacity was in this country in 2015, down from 30 percent in 1990, according to government data. Chip makers attribute the decline to a variety of forces, including high American tax rates and the hefty subsidies offered by foreign governments for new semiconductor plants, which can cost as much as $10 billion.
Restrictions on trade and immigration will not deter the march of technology. A study by McKinsey shows that more than 50% of the time spent at work today involves routine physical labor, data collection and data processing. Nearly all of this work can be automated. And the safer jobs of today -- jobs that involve human interaction -- may become automated in the future.
As technology advances, there is also an increase in cyber security threats, which become more and more complicated as well. The sad, reality, however, is that the number of cybersecurity professionals with the skills to combat the growing threats is limited. This problem, of course, has a solution which lies in STEM education.
Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force Orrin Hatch on Thursday said he plans to introduce legislation to update the visa system for highly skilled immigrants. The Utah Republican said he is working on an update of his 2015 Immigration Innovation Act, or I-Squared, and plans to put forward the legislation "in the near future.”
As congressional leaders and the president continue discussing ways to stop the number of American jobs leaving the U.S., some believe innovation is the key to slowing this economic trend. In Chihuahua City, Mexico, there is a huge manufacturing base filled with American companies. What's there is a mix of big manufacturers such as Ford and Honeywell and the companies supplying those operations.
GE has announced goals of having 20,000 women to fill STEM roles at GE by 2020 and obtaining 50:50 representation for all our technical entry-level programs. The program will significantly increase the representation of women in its engineering, manufacturing, IT and product management roles -- a strategy necessary to inject urgency into addressing ongoing gender imbalance in technical fields and fully transform into a digital industrial company.
The prevailing narrative says automation was the main culprit behind U.S. manufacturing job losses in the early 2000s, and that automation is now powering an unprecedented manufacturing technology revolution that will continue to displace jobs. But the truth is trade pressure and faltering U.S. competitiveness were responsible for more than two-thirds of the 5.7 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2010. And rather than entering a “fourth industrial revolution,” U.S. manufacturing productivity growth now is actually near an all-time low.