Every year it seems we hear from IT executives who say there aren't enough IT professionals in the United States. Last week we heard again from Bill Gates who regularly presses the U.S. government to allow more foreign worker visas. This time he told members of Congress that the shortage of scientists and engineers is so acute that the U.S. must reform its education system and its immigration policies.
"If we don't, American companies simply will not have the talent to innovate and compete," he said.
Gates outlined four goals the country needs to pursue, one of which is raising the limit of 65,000 H-1B visas. The current limits, he said, have disrupted the flow of talented science, technology, engineering and math graduates to U.S. companies. He further said that Microsoft and other companies have been forced to locate staff in countries more open to skilled foreign workers.
In related news, IBM reported that it's seeing a decline in the number of U.S. IT professionals, while the number is rising in countries such as China, Russia and Korea.
"We're starting to see a decline of IT professionals in the United States," said Stephanie Martin, worldwide lead for IBM Developer Relations. "We're seeing fewer students come out of college as IT professionals."
Martin pointed out, however, that the U.S. is not alone in this. She said other Western countries are also experiencing a decline in enthusiasm for IT professions.
What do you think? Is there really a shortage of IT pros in the U.S.? Is it simply a matter of increased interest in other companies? Or are Bill Gates and other executives looking for ways to get less-expensive labor from other countries. Send your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.