Quoted: on tech jobs and race

“Check the job boards. They basically say, ‘H-1B Visa. Americans need not apply.’ For years, women, blacks and Latinos have been kept out of the tech job market. Now white men are being forced to train their replacements.”

Yolanda Lewis, president and CEO of the Oakland-based Black Economic Council, who has organized protests against tech companies to try to get them to be more transparent about their workforces, according to the Merc’s Dan Nakaso. Census data released Thursday shows that Asian workers now comprise half of the Bay Area’s tech workforce, and that whites, Hispanics and African-Americans saw their share of tech jobs decrease from 2000 to 2010. The gains made by Asians were not all attributable to H-1B visas. The numbers include Asian-Americans “who were raised with a very strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) background,” said Jan English-Lueck, associate dean of the college of social sciences at San Jose State University.

 

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  • sds

    Even without the implicit H-1B visa stipulation, we are starting to see what happens when a consumerist service economy is promoted above all else. The hollowing out of corporate R&D in favor of better quarterly results and the race to the bottom for knowledge-worker positions has coupled with the flight of the best and brightest to where the money is — in finance, creating impenetrable (but not infallible) financial instruments. We are sowing what we’ve reaped over the last 20-30 years. It’s going to be a poor harvest.

  • Lynn

    This article is confusing. It conflates the “market share” of Asian-Americans in the tech job market with tech companies’ import of foreign Asian labor using H-1B visas. These are different trends.

    Also, it doesn’t say whether the total job pie has grown – if so, white male employees may still have gained ground. I certainly see more white male faces on startup “about us” pages than other types of faces.

    I’m also curious if there is a demographic shift in play – older workers = white, younger workers = Asian-American.

  • Drew

    Just walk into any technology OEM like Cisco, AT&T, Microsoft, or Apple and check out their engineering teams – 90% H-1B from India/China/Russia/Israel and virtually all hired via third party contracting firms like Tata Communications. The problem is really one of supply and demand – India and China are cranking out one million new engineering graduates a year with close to 30% electrical engineering, the US graduated 12,000 EEs in 2011. Contracting firms are used as getting green cards for overseas hires is impossible and the visa rules are very tricky.

    The sad thing is I work with many very talented engineers from India and virtually every one of them would love to become a US citizen but the reality is most of them are trapped in visa hell and short of marrying a US citizen will eventually end up back in India. We are training the next generation of hardware entrepreneurs only to have them go back to India to start their companies.

  • RedRat

    Well of course they only want H1B types. They work cheap! You offer a job to an American and he/she wants salaries well north of $75K, but your H1B will take it at half or a quarter of that! Who’s gonna get the job? H1B hands down.

    Look it’s simple economics from the company’s point of view: go after those who will work cheap, they get trained, and then when the H1B expires, you send them back home to your overseas offices that you have been building for the past decades. You got someone there who now speaks the language fluently and knows the native culture, he/she (mostly ‘he’) knows how your company works, it’s win-win.

  • rgrace

    The original article also stupidly quotes a 19-year-old Asian student who says something very inflammatory about Americans “not buying into the work ethic” or nonsense in those terms. The alleged journalist of this piece should be fired. I posted in the comment thread of the piece, thought about it later, and returned to say that I thought the writer should be disciplined for quoting an inflammatory remark from a mere 19-year-old who simply can’t be expected to know better at her age.

  • densely

    Show me the candidates. A high-tech company that wants to hire, for example, more women runs up against the problem that female American citizens are underrepresented in the ranks of new college graduates in technical fields.

  • Markus Unread

    Nothing like having an employee that can be deported if you lay them off. No pressure there!

 
 
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