Lately, there have been a lot of stories about H1-B workers replacing American jobs. That may be true, but those situations usually are a result of large Indian outsourcing firms replacing an entire IT function. These replaced roles are often blended between on and offshore delivery. However, there is another kind of consulting company that uses H1-B workers who are not being discussed. These are the American owned IT staffing firms which are part of an estimated 27 billion-dollar industry focused on providing supplemental onshore IT resources.
IT Staffing firms provide contract consultants that complement and round out IT teams. This allows American based companies to quickly bring in contractors for projects with defined scopes, but not enough work to justify a full time hire. IT staffing companies use of H1-B workers is not to displace American workers, but simply because we can’t find American workers with the interest and/or skill needed for these roles. According to TechServe Alliance, overall industry unemployment levels are at 2.1%. With these low unemployment levels, it is very difficult to find qualified talent. Most of the skilled American workers prefer and are currently working as full time employees. They aren’t interested in the risk of taking a contract position that may only be an initial 3 or even 6 months.
The dirty little secret is that if staffing firms aren’t able to find and place workers in these hard to find skillsets, the work itself will go offshore. This offshore option usually exists for clients, but there is value to having the work done onshore since the quality is higher and it takes less time to complete a project. Offshore work and results are often lacking, nonetheless, when work goes offshore, it is hard to bring it back.
There certainly are onshore American workers in these contract roles and they are very well paid for their skills. The H1-B workers that are in these contract roles are also well paid. In addition, they are following all the tedious rules and paying the thousands of dollars it costs in the multi-year process to legally receive a green card. They also pay taxes, appreciate education, work hard and assimilate into the US culture. They are the kind of people we should be welcoming.
The majority of IT staffing firms are small and medium size American owned businesses. We aren’t the big Indian owned companies that are the culprits in the headlines and special reports that show American jobs being eliminated. In 23 years of owning InfoTech and the years of my associations with other business owners in the industry, I don’t know of a single instance of an IT staffing firm replacing an American worker. Indian H1-B workers have been chosen in the interview process due to better skills than American workers, but never replaced. Staffing firms need access to H1-B talent, otherwise these projects and more American jobs will be sent offshore.
– Bob Moore
President, InfoTech Resources