Microsoft has entered the US immigration debate with a novel proposal for expanding the number of visas available for foreign techies: have companies pay the government a good chunk of change for an expanded number of them. Redmond's general counsel Brad Smith, speaking on a panel discussing STEM (science, technology, …
Where do I sign up?
Re: Sounds great!
There's nothing to sign up for, Bob. You failed to read - or more likely comprehend - the article.
Fail troll has failed.
Perhaps paying more would attract employees.....
Or would you like H2B slaves unable to leave or do anything else in case their visa gets revoked?
H1Bs are fairly easy to transfer; otherwise the problem that Microsoft (and everyone else in the article) identifies is very real. New H1Bs run out in April or May and come into effect in October; you can expect to have to offer at least a 50% greater salary to anyone you want to hire around October simply because the pool artificially contracts.
Why pay that much for a visa when they could just hire them and have them based in other countries? Singapore, India, Europe... wherever. It's a global workforce now.
Or, Perhaps MS can take that $10k per person and put it towards, oh, I don't know, education in the Puget Sound area, so they can grow their own talent?
Or, perhaps, just perhaps..... they can move their licensing division to a place outside Nevada, so that for every software license, they would actually fill the coffers of state government, so that the state government can invest in things like education.
Or Maybe its just that Microsoft wants to push the US government into removing all immigration laws in order to lower the rates they pay for skilled IT work.
Funny, Google and Apple seem to have no trouble filling vacancies.
Could it be that (GASP!) no one talented sees Microsoft as "THE place to go" anymore?
Or it could be nobody wants to frigging move to Washington state. Yes I know its progressive and cool and all but as someone who enjoys the 340+ sunny days I get in my current location I would go postal with in a year of living there (50 degrees F and foggy and or sprinkling all day gets old very quick). Plus never mind the traffic and cost of living there.
Lol I guess I won't get much sympathy from our British readers on why that kind of weather sucks.
Oops 340 in Yuma only 311 in Phoenix. Still there is a reason we are called the valley of the sun. We have two seasons shitty hot (4 months) and nice (other eight months).
Microsoft needs better working conditions
In America, those in programming/tech who have choices of where to work don't don't choose Microsoft. I've been reading the Mini-Microsoft blog (a blog where Microsoft employees can talk about their jos and working conditions) off and on for years and it is and has been predominantly a sad story.
http://minimsft.blogspot.ca/ Interestingly, in the most recent post, and others I've read, they talk about the ranking system at Microsoft and how if you score lowly several times you are fired. The problem being, as with many other businesses, is that your ranking often has more to do with your political skills than your technical ability and this has been the system at Microsoft for years. Look for "Stack ranking" in the blog post, also look for http://stevegall.wetpaint.com/page/Human+Resource+Management . A link to this paper is also provided on the Mini-Microsoft blog.
So, why does Microsoft need foreign workers? I would suggest it's because American workers can and will leave an unhealthy workplace given the choice, but foreign workers may be more reluctant or unable due to contractual or immigration requirements.
One of the major problems with a ranking system is it's often based on averages. IE 50% of the staff are ALWAYS 50% worse performing. Stupid management take that as a reflection on the effort and skill you have as an excuses to fire you, or worse belittle you "Why are you only performing below the 50% mean? The other 50% manage to work harder, why don't you?"
Yep, been there, not in programming, but the jobs with that mentality. Granted, some places need to downside. Just be honest and say "thanks for working, we need to downsize, you're the first on the list".
Absolutely right, with a company the size of Microsoft you could be one of the top 50 or 100 programmers working there, out of potentially thousands, but be in the lower portion of your particular department and get the boot. Now that's sound management. You could also be a bit of a quiet person, not strong on self promotion or simply have a hateful manager and get ranked lowly enough to be fired. From what I've read at Mini-Microsoft over the years none of the scenarios I've mentioned are the uncommon.
You're right. Coastal WA is apparently like a better Manchester. I think I'd really like the Pacific NW.
I'm an expat living in Maine and I wouldn't touch Phoenix with a bargepole. Firstly because I couldn't stand the heat, and secondly because of the danger the bargepole would burst into flames. But no, I don't like winter here. Fuck snow. It's not fun.
Many Americans, for some reason, seem to think that putting large cities in the middle of hot deserts is such a good idea that Phoenix is one of the fastest growing cities in the USA.
However, we shouldn't tar everyone with the same brush. Albuquerque is growing fast and that has a proper climate. But the fact that you have live a mile in the sky for it to be tolerable says something.
Google and Apple are having trouble finding staff in key areas because they don't want to pay the going rates. They feel that their company name is enough of a draw. After all, everyone wants to come work for Apple or Google, right? (Puffs up your resume...)
The truth though is that All of these tech companies are reading the writing on the wall. That offshoring work doesn't work. So you bring the cheap labor back home.
Its no wonder why American kids don't want degrees in Computer Science / Engineering.
Re: Microsoft needs better working conditions
Any workers in America need to look out of "Stack ranking" of employees. It's the new method of controlling employment. It all goes back to the United Nations work globally and what is callled Agenda 21. Companies on-board with it have begun the use of workplace "Stack ranking."
American cities in the desert will cease to be popular, when they have drained the aquifers that lie underneath them: It may not be possible (or economically practical) to bring in water from the sea for desalination.
Buy a few picture postcards, or take some photos - they might be very valuable in a few decades...
Being as Albuquerque as my home town I will say in many ways the weather is much nicer but colder in the winter and the town does get snow which Phoenix never does. The main problem with Albuquerque though is the lack of good jobs and the fact the town is one very large run down dump barrio but other than that its great in the 505.
Why do I have to move to Washington? Save the $10,000 and let me work from home in the UK.
Its the American 'work' ethic. When I've worked in the states 12 hours minimum in the office every day or you are a slacker. Productivity - which is generally lower in extended periods of long working hours than a 40hweek - is not taken into account.
Nothing gets done because you have all day not to do it - I find a similar thing with working from home. Go into a shitty office for a few hours and I can get two days work done and be off. Its easy to do if you have a good manager - so in IT your fucked.
Re: @J.G Harston
I also worked in the states for a while and noticed the obsession with long hours in the office. The thing was that the productivity didn't seem any better, so I would go in 9-5 or so and get the same amount of work done as those turning in at 7am and staying until 8pm or later.
It was all very odd and I'm glad I'm not there any more - even if I do miss many of the people I knew.
Re: @J.G Harston
I think the thing about long hours is that it's easy to measure. So if you are a clueless fuckwit manager who doesn't really understand what your team is doing, it's about the only metric you have.
I am a manager nowadays. I never believed the "long-hours" thing when I worked on code and nothing I have seen since has led me to change my mind. There's just no correlation between working hours and productivity in my experience.
I highly doubt we need to import talent
The only reason for importing employees is to lower their operating costs. If you hire these people for $35K per year and pay another $10-15K one-time, then Microsucks is paying below market price for these employees. Naturally they don't give a rats's arse about hiring currently unemployed U.S. citizens who they'd have to pay reasonable salaries and provide benefits too.
Nonsense, hogwash, BS
It's not about the salary but the flexibility. Americans always insist we're "special". "I should get sexual treatment because I'm special". "You should bend around my needs instead of me bending around yours because I'm special".
Fact is, when an employee is willing to relocate themself and possibly their families in order to get access to a better opportunity, as opposed to getting a cheaper employee, you're getting a better employee. This also cours for American employees who are willing to move to another city or state for a job. There is a sense of that employee saying "I'm willing to uproot myself to provide a better opportunity for myself".
#1 reason for unemployment in the U.S. today is that everyone is "Special". None of my friends have had a so for problem finding jobs under the one circumstance that they are willing to reeducate themselves if needed and relocate if needed. The employers are not responsible for coming to you. You are responsible for going to them.
I am an American ex-patriot who has been actively recruited by Google, Microsoft, Cisco and others over the past year. All I have to do to get comfy 6 figure jobs at any of them is say yes and relocate. They have all left welcome mats at their doors with signing bonuses and relocation bonuses. Just have to move to Stockholm, Zurich, San Jose, etc... For now, I am perfectly happy where I am working 3 out of 4 weeks for 36 hours a week for a nice fat salary. If the market dries up where I am, we'll pack up and move since my wife can't support us on her income. That said, when I "lost" my last job, on the way home, I called a company I wanted to work for and asked if they needed anyone and they said "not with your skills, but with this skill set". So I said "hire me today and I'll start in 3 months and I'll have that skill set". So they hesitantly did and I studied 18 hours a day, 6 days a week and 10 on the 7th for three months and showed up ready. A month later, they were giving me raises.
Companies like Google, Microsoft, etc... Will pay almost anything for people like that, but "Special people" are a bloody waste of money. If someone wants to be special, they must take whatever they can get even if that means wearing an apron and paper hat.
Re: You seem cornfused?
Your "special people" argument sounds more like a personal problem... Maybe it's the corporate culture you've experienced but it's not an industry mainstay. Your arguement does amount to nonsense, hogwash and BS, as you state in the title.
Companies like Microsucks, Google and others will use the lowest cost commodity work force they can hire. They don't care about the people, all they care about is achieving whatever goal they have. Employees are just a means to an end for most large corporation.
Smaller companies are generally much different. Some of them actually appreciate and respect their employees though others can be one step above a sweatshop. Hiring immigrants is a cost savings measure not something worthy of a humanitarian award. In fact failure to hire residents of the country where the company exists is disloyal and ignorant, especially with high unemployment in the U.S and EU. If these large corporations could use Chines slave labor, that is what most unscrupulous big corporations would use and not feel a bit guilty about paying their CEO $700 million compensation while the Chinese slaves are exploited and abused.
Re: I highly doubt we need to import talent
I worked for IBM in the US for few weeks. Architects and project managers were Americans, but most of the remaing team members were Europeans, coming from another IBM offices. It seemed to me that US started to lack senior engineers when they outsourced junior jobs abroad. Therefore, there were no more juniors to grow.
Re: Nonsense, hogwash, BS
I don't believe even half of this personal anecdote is true for a second.
Re: I don't believe even half of this personal anecdote is true
Yep, the give away is this bit:
"I studied 18 hours a day, 6 days a week and 10 on the 7th for three months"
I don't give a damn how good you are, three solid months of that and they lock you up in a padded room while they try to put the pieces back together again. I've pulled 3 consecutive 18 hour days on volunteer activities. After that, you need a full day off just to recover.
Re: I don't believe even half of this personal anecdote is true
>#1 reason for unemployment in the U.S. today is that everyone is "Special"
And here I thought it was because the saintly job creators running our economy almost collapsed the banking system and did collapse the housing market for half a decade. But no its always the poor people's fault.
Protecting the unqualified
The H1B situation is really stupid. You bring in the brightest minds on a contract, train them, work them, terminate their contract, and then kick them out of the country. First, we should be looking at why US citizens aren't qualified. Second, we should be inviting brilliant minds to become citizens rather than kicking them out. It's not like the US is overcrowded with brains.
Re: Protecting the unqualified
"It's not like the US is overcrowded with brains."
Quite the opposite, in fact. Unfortunately the US is not unique in this matter.
Re: Protecting the unqualified
The U.S. is overcrowded with individuals obsessed with financial greed... and they don't mind using Chinese slaves to further their over-compensation for violations of human rights and decency. It's all about the money.
Re: Protecting the unqualified
Well, as my buddy once said... The U.S. is amazing. While they're filled with the same percent of useless people as in other western countries, they are blessed with attracting the best of the best from around the world. The U.S. certainly makes some amazing Americans, but thanks to the H1-B, they serve as an incubation pot for many of the best in the world. He also makes a point of saying that we also have a gift of letting the dumb get dumber at an alarming rate.
The U.S. is a huge country and as a result, it's not bursting at the seems with this elite talent. But it does have a large amount of this elite talent scattered out. American businesses are always trying to get their hands on this talent. But that talent only accounts for a small percentage of the worlds population and American companies have to look outward since from within the demand outweighs the supply. To find a balance of talent and work ethic is a disaster and it is often easier to make the assumption that a person willing to leave their home and family to work is likely a person to count on.
Another huge problem is, people tend to have overly generous estimates of their own self worth. I would almost always bank on the work ethic of someone I hire from another country than the schmuck down the road since even if the guy down the road was actually better, the guy from across the seas showed a great deal of initiative where the guy down the road settled for what was convenient to him.
Surely M$ of all people should be able to employ people in Brazil and the UK and Portugal and Kenya without them dragging their sack of bodily fluids to Redmond?
or if it doesn't work for them, why are they trying to flog it to the rest of us?
Telecommuting from a foreign country wouldn't work in most instances. There are the security risks associated with remote access, especially for programmers, and then there is also a tax issue. As I understand it, if you work for an American corporation, you have to pay US income taxes as well as your "home" taxes (If applicable). The same also applies in reverse... An American who works abroad is also liable for US taxes even if they never set foot in the US. I'd imagine that it can get even worse when you have state/local taxes added on to that, I wouldn't know first hand living in a state with no personal income tax. A similar situation can be seen with the megaupload.com mess, if *one* server is in the US, the entire organization can be considered under US jurisdiction. I'm not taking sides, just pointing out the US view on the matter.
Also... Let's look at it another way... If an American with the resume and talents I want costs me 100k per year gross, and an H1B visa holder costs 70-80k gross, why not? As a business my responsibility is to the shareholders, NOT any loyalty to the community or country, as it should be. Besides, it's been generally proven that outsourcing and importing workers does have a measurable domestic benefit in terms of job growth in related sectors.
One thing that bothers me about people complaining about outsourcing and importing workers... is that nobody complains when Virginia grants special tax breaks and incentives to take jobs from California or Texas for example. Isn't the net effect the same? People lose jobs, people gain jobs. I fail to see the difference here other than the semantic argument that as long as US citizens get the jobs, it doesn't matter who loses them.
Having worked for 4 US companies remotely, I can tell you straight out that you do not know what you are talking about on some scores.
"There are the security risks associated with remote access, especially for programmers". Nonsense. Remote offices can be as secure as those on MSFT campus.
"As I understand it, if you work for an American corporation, you have to pay US income taxes as well as your "home" taxes." You understand incorrectly. The programmers/staff work for Microsoft Brasil Ltd (or whatever). They do not work for Microsoft USA and do not pay MSFT taxes.
I do agree though that remote offices, and bringing in foreign staff *can* help bring more stills into the US industry.
Telecommuting isn't anymore a security risk than off-shoring and you don't get double taxed, especially if you've never been inside the US. I'm not sure where you get your info from but it's crap.
Employers just don't like telecommuting because they assume everyone will slack off.
Wouldn't go there if I got $15k sign up bonus plus relocation.
Of course, this money wouldn't be for me, it would be for the government. To spend on wars on abstract concepts and such. What if they'd just took a good hard close look on how their education system works (or rather, doesn't) and fix that? It's only six thousand jobs on a country of 300-odd million. Why import people to clean up their mess?
Back in the day you could buy citizenship for a dollar. Why not now? Why all the rules? I think most of them are from fear rather than actual need. All those security measures (and visa hassle is a "security measure, too), costing lots and lots of money to implement and costing even more having to subject yourself to all that, don't seem to have managed to catch even half a terrorist per million spent. Though the money doesn't seem to be a problem for the likes of redmond, but it does mean smaller companies won't be able to afford that much-needed foreign influx, and since that's where new ideas get brought to market, so this proposal would reduce breathing room for innovation instead.
So, what now? Well, if you can't have furriners, find your workforce elsewhere. In fact, why don't you re-train all those TSA goons to do those "simple tasks, like programming" that'd otherwise get outsourced overseas? They're not finding terrorists now and won't then, so no change. But lots of cost savings, to be spent on innovation. Well?
Stupid, lazy, dinosaur management
A big retail business cannot just set up just one shop in a country and expect all the countries shoppers to go to one shop, so why do employers still stick with this archaic centralist mindset of central sites?
So set up another site with decent comms. in the US, where there are loads of qualified people, even do this abroad; expecting people to up sticks and move large distances to work is so dated and stupid! It is far cheaper to make occasional management visits than for all the new employees to move!
Computer based work is so easy to setup remotely if you have competent network admin staff, which Microsoft should have, so why this brain dead stupidity.
I plead with all of you to read the following blog posts. They provide very compelling evidence that there is NO shortage of U.S. citizen/permanent resident STEM workers. The H-1B debate usually devolves into a match between two opponents who only have anecdotes to support their positions. The following blog posts offer DATA (with sources).
Less pay, more work
I've been job hunting for a couple of years now and I am finding that companies are demanding more for less. The number of hours worked per week is well over 40 if you are to be seen as a loyal company employee. One job as a sales person for a company that manufactures audio amplifier modules wanted the applicant to posses a Phd. Many technician level jobs require a Masters degree or a BS and gobs of experience. Many times that experience is across unusual disciplines. How many printed circuit board designers also have extensive experience in firmware programming and the care of laboratory animals? It's like Chinese factories that specialize in pharmaceuticals, stuffed toys and soles for trainers.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, many companies scrambled to hire eastern bloc engineers and scientists. They could be had for half of the salary, were highly educated and would be somewhat locked in to working for the sponsoring company. Legally, they may have been able to leave that employer anytime they wished, but practically most of them did not know US law well enough to realize what they could and couldn't do and still remain in the country. The greatest fear was leaving a job and not getting another one where the employer would/could sponsor their visa. If they lost their visa, they would have to leave the country. I know a few Russian engineers and they really did not want to have to go back after they had been in the US for a short period of time.
Companies that want to save money by hiring foreign workers can get around any requirements that they hire locally by advertising the open position with so many conflicting qualifications that it is unlikely that an applicant will show up. Especially so if the salary is comparatively low. The requirement that they have to show the government is that no domestic qualified people applied or qualified for the job. They do not have to show that the foreign worker has the listed job experience. The company will hire the foreign worker with the qualifications that are really needed for the job.
My biggest peeve with hiring practices these days are the requirements for a background check, a drug test, a credit report and a driving record printout. It is prudent for some of these checks for sensitive jobs such as driving a city bus or handling large sums of money. It is not reasonable to require any or all of them for most jobs. I was interested in a job with a water display company that did require all of the checks above for a field technician job. It makes me wonder if many technicians that work on water fountains are drug addled ex-felons that don't pay their bills and drive poorly. Some companies are getting called out for requesting that applicants submit their passwords for social media site they belong to and any blogs they contribute to. A foreign applicant could be required to pass all of the checks, but how is an employer going to get the information about somebody living in India? It would be easy to fake many of the documents as checking their voracity is going to be next to impossible.
Re: Less pay, more work
And what if our aspiring water fountain technician was a felon? Surely holding a proper job like water fountain service maintenance would be a good thing for a someone wanting to get back on the straight an narrow? I should even think, our ex-criminal might strive to improve himself and one day be promoted to water fountain emergency repair field operator. Or if he proves himself a poor driver, might with due effort become a water fountain maintenance planner.
And being Dutch I can tell you, if you take drugs in your free time and it doesn't affect work, then it's none of your boss' business.
Re: Less pay, more work
I have to concur with the hiring practices bit. My first real job was working for a manufacturer located in a college town (30,000 students and 20,000 townies). For one project they needed a pair of programmers. They brought in two foreigners on H1B1 visas. Yes, they wrote a decent program, but I don't believe for a minute that in a town where a student couldn't get a job on campus without a student "grant" and all other jobs were burger flipping and pizza or sub delivery that they couldn't come up with two comp sci majors or grads who could handle the work.
US/Canada - "always at the office" culture
My experience - working with Canadians and Americans - is that they are always "at work". As others have said, they don't seem to get any more done than the rest of us - but they have to be "seen to be there" - all the time. They email at any time of day or night (as do very few of my colleagues). In the case of the US/Canada they are really all under the thumb and scared (IMO) of losing their jobs. Some would say that's no bad thing - but it changes the way they work - and the hours.
Re: US/Canada - "always at the office" culture
It really is sad that in the U.S. many people do not have a real life. Vacations/holidays are working holidays for most and the time away from the office/job is very short compared to Europe where people generally have 4-6 weeks vacation/holiday per year. Most American's are burnt out from too much work and nothing else. Then there need to go to therapy to deal with the stress. Of course to pay for the therapy they must work harder or longer... It truly is a vicious downward spiral cycle of demise.
Microsoft hiring from outside the U.S. when there are so many unemplyed people in the U.S. is absurd. They have no scruples at all and never have ahd IMO. They couldn't pay me enough money to work in that company.
Re: US/Canada - "always at the office" culture
I wonder if a big difference in the culture is also related to unionisation? I think that much of Europe, willing to be corrected, has a much stronger union culture than NA. Here, in Canada we have a stronger union culture than in America, but less strong than Europe. The company I work for has both a large union base and a large non-union base with management and contracts always chipping away at the union base that was built up from the 70s through the 90s. It seems to me that many of those non-union employees don't understand that the reason they have very good working conditions is because the company is actively diminishing the importance of the union, Once that is accomplished working conditions and pay will be affected in a downward trend for employees and that will be OK with the company as we'll be starting at ground zero with negotiations.
The harper conservatives, Canada's ruling junta (or Fascists) are playing an active role in killing unions. He's every bit as frightening as the Tea party in America.
"The company currently has 6,000 unfilled jobs, and he claims that filling them with US-citizen techs is proving to be difficult."
Let me translate this particular line of bullshit for you.
The company currently has 6,000 unfilled jobs, and he claims that filling them with US-citizen techs will cost us more money.
Nothing against immigrants as I happen to be one myself - the permanent resident kind that finds it just as difficult to get a job as US citizens. The truth is not that there is a lack of qualified personel in the US, it's just that they cost more than $12 / hr.
Fuck you Microsoft
There's loads and loads of techs within the US, and (just like most of the economy) high unemployment. They do not need to bring in thousands of people from outside the US to do this. Companies here in the states have been abusing the H1B system for years, typically they just assume they will bring in all these foreign workers and can pay them less (rather than there ACTUALLY being a shortage of skilled workers, which is what H1B program is meant for)... problem being, they are usually so sure of this, they will not even offer the lower pay and see if any locals will take it. Fuck you Microsoft for playing this game.
Of course, Microsoft MAY have problems getting people to work for them. I sure as hell wouldn't. But, nevertheless, there's been such an abuse of this system, I certainly don't feel it should be expanded, even with them paying per person. There's no accountability whatsoever, no necessity for businesses to demonstrate a lack of local skilled workers, and no oversite from whoever is supposed to run H1B to point out "hey, there's loads of locals just waiting to work this kind of job, no you don't need more H1Bs."
H1B has it's place, I've read that Siemens trains top-notch nuclear technicians in Germany, so they are employed anywhere that has a nuclear reactor; I'm sure chip foundries, hard drive component building, etc. have specialized needs where LG, Samsung, whoever will have people already trained and would rather bring them in via H1B. There are legitimate uses for this. But programmers? No.
Re: Fuck you Microsoft
You've hit the nail squarely on the head. Microsucks is just out to hire foreigners so they can pay them lower salaries. Human exploitation is the hallmark of Microsucks. It doesn't surprise me at all that people don't want to work for them. Who would want to be associated with these degenerates if you have a choice.
That said there are tens of MILLIONS of unemployed people in the U.S. and I'm sure there are thousands of qualified candidates in the U.S. to fill these jobs if Microsucks was paying even close to industry scale. They simply want foreigners who will be indebted to them thus easily exploited.