Software titan Microsoft has warned of a looming US talent crisis, and has proposed the IT industry pay $5bn to the government to open up more H-1B visas to fill its rocketing vacancies.
The firm said increasing the number of these visas, which allow firms to employ foreign skilled workers, would help fill this void, while the money invested could be used to help improve science and technology education.
Microsoft claimed that its job openings for researchers, developers and engineers had grown by 34 percent in the past year with the number of openings in these roles now standing at 3,400.
It total it said it had 6,000 positions in the US open, up 15 per cent year-on-year, yet it is struggling to fill the positions due to the lack of graduates with the necessary science qualifications.
“This challenge is not unique to Microsoft, it is not unique to the information technology sector,” wrote Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, on its policy blog.
“Too few American students – especially students who have historically been underserved and underrepresented – are achieving the levels of education required to secure jobs in innovation-based industries."
Microsoft's solution is for the industry to pay for a glut of H-1B visas, which would allow it to fill the vacancies in the short term from overseas talent,
"We believe this approach could raise up to $500 million per year – or $5 billion over a decade – that the federal government could use to distribute to states where the STEM education investments are needed," said Smith.
The offer has been made as the US presidential campaign heats up. The Republican campaigner Mitt Romney has previously called for the ceiling on H-1B visas to be raised so the technology industry can continue to innovate.
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