The Redmond-based technology titan Microsoft is now planning to hire more foreign workers because it “cannot find qualified Americans” to fill in open positions.
The company has already asked the US government to approve a new visa program that would allow up to 20,000 foreign workers to be employed in the United States.
But although Microsoft’s executives claim this all happens due to a shortage of qualified local workers, experts believe that it’s only a cost-cutting strategy.
Foreign workers are cheaper that US employees, so bringing them in the United States could help Microsoft save a significant amount of money.
“What companies like Microsoft seem to want is employees with quite specific skills who don't need any training and ramp-up time. If you scour the world, you can find enough without having to train here and paying higher wages,” Peter Cappelli, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Seattle Times.
Microsoft, however, emphasizes this is not the case. The company currently has 3,400 job openings in the United States, all of them aimed at IT pros such as software engineers and developers, but the shortage of qualified workers forces them to look overseas.
“The biggest myth people have is that a company like Microsoft somehow looks to foreign workers as an easy supply to displace American workers,” Karen Jones, Microsoft's deputy general counsel for human resources, told the same source. “We simply cannot find qualified Americans to fill these jobs.”
The software giant claims that the United States increases its workforce with only 40,000 STEM graduates every year, but finding qualified workers for new technologies such as cloud store and mobile computing is a difficult challenge.
Microsoft Chief Counsel Brad Smith said in early October than the United States government could collect up to $500 million (€385 million) every year if it decides to extend the visa program and charge companies requesting additional work permits between $10,000 (€7,700) and $15,000 (€11,500) for each visa.