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August 11, 2017

US faces shortage of 1.1m workers by 2024 thanks to Trump immigration policy

The US tech industry is expected to face a fall in tech talented workers as a result of Trump's immigration policy.

By April Slattery

The US tech industry is expected to face a shortage in tech talent due to foreign tech workers looking elsewhere following Trump’s H1-B program introduction.

According to a report by Hired the United States is to face “a shortage of more than 1.1m STEM workers by 2024, an issue that may be further exacerbated by limiting access to foreign technical talent.”

The research revealed that foreign workers received 60% fewer requests from US based companies from Q2 to Q4 in 2016, a likely result of uncertainty around Trump immigration policies in the run up to the US election, in November 2016.

As a result, candidates were also slightly less inclined to engage with US companies, evidenced from the 4% decrease in the rate at which they accepted interview requests from American companies, between Q3 and Q4 2016. This rebounded more than twofold in 2017.

Out of the total respondents 55% agree there isn’t enough tech talent in the US to meet the demand, while nearly half don’t think the current structure of the H1-B visa program is working.

Additionally, 60% of respondents believe the program will negatively impact the industry with almost a quarter saying they are less likely to start a company in the US as a result.

Tech giants such as Google, Apple and Microsoft raised concerns in February, after the introduction of Trump’s policy, regarding the future of the industry and its workers, saying the temporary immigration ban “inflicts significant harm on American business”

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The knock on affect has led to 40% of respondents would now consider relocating to an alternative location. Almost a third said Canada would be top choice, followed by Germany (12%), Asia (10%) and Australia (10%).

Today, foreign born workers make up 37% of Silicon Valley workers. The argument that immigrants are ‘taking’ jobs from Americans is countered by economist Robert Reich who said immigrants are “adding jobs because they are innovating. That makes more jobs for everybody else, for more innovators.”

Read More: Tech giants unite in Silicon Valley backlash at Trump immigration ban

US technology heavily relies on immigrant workers that bring talent from outside the US to develop new products in the country. Findings revealed 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children in the US.

Trump’s policy, ‘Hire America, Buy America”, is at risk of threatening the development of technology if foreign workers are no longer allowed to continue in their fields of work.

As well as the immigration policy, tech workers are likely to be put off working in the US even more after US plans to abolish its rule allowing foreign entrepreneurs coming to the US to start new companies. Eliminating the rule, adds further complexity to talent choosing to remain in the US.

In US politics, immigration has always been a conflicting subject. Similarly to the public’s response to Brexit, the research figures suggest that the US election results brings uncertainty to the future of the tech industry in the country.

Read More: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos looking at legal options to fight Trump immigration order

The report said: “The underlying premise of the system is flawed, but not the ‘entire system.’ The system needs to prioritize skilled independent workers who can make a difference in a wide variety of fields, not just tech. The key should be independent, as in, not tied to a company/sponsor, but rather approval by US that they will benefit the economy at large.”

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