Immigration can cure skills shortage, says SAS chief

Immigration can cure skills shortage, says SAS chief

Summary: The IT industry needs talented overseas workers to foster innovation

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TOPICS: Networking
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Jim Goodnight, the outspoken chief executive officer of software giant SAS, has said the UK and US governments must open their borders to skilled overseas IT workers in order to remain competitive and foster a culture of innovation.

In an interview with silicon.com (ZDNet UK's sister site), Goodnight said that the IT industry is crying out for changes to immigration laws and added that SAS has slowed its hiring in the US in favour of growing its teams in India and China where he believes there is a rich pool of talent.

"The industry is screaming for help in this area," said Goodnight. "In the US we are not producing enough skills in science and maths and yet we're not allowed to bring in more than 65,000 people each year who have those skills."

"You want to talk about some of the stupid things Bush has done? Why restrict the best and the brightest people from coming into your country?"

Goodnight said the UK is suffering in the same way.

"It's absolutely foolhardiness at a time when we need these skills."

But increased immigration is only part of the solution, he said. In the long term Goodnight believes the UK and US must encourage more students to achieve skills in science and maths to address the growing skills shortage.

"The US is 16th in the world now in terms of how many kids graduate from high school, as a percentage," Goodnight told silicon.com. "Over a third of our kids in the US drop out of school before 12th grade. What value are they to society? They don't play, they don't fit in.

"Two-thirds of our prison population do not have a high school diploma. It seems pretty clear to me, do you want to educate your children or do you want to put them in jail?"

Topic: Networking

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4 comments
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  • Rather than open our borders to outsiders it would be better if the IT industry looked to those it "let go" as being too old at 40. Ageism is endemic in the IT industry. If you're over 40 you're too old to know anything. Many collegues have left the industry completely because they couldn't get worthwhile jobs; with recruitment managers not believing that they had qualifications. Try the grey market first.
    anonymous
  • Thats not the only problem. If you decided to take a career break, go off to study or made redundant employers just look at you in a negative light.

    The attitude from employers seems to be you havent programmed recently so bye bye. Ok tech moves quickly but to be they dont place any value to other qualities like experience, interpersonal skills, business knowledge also a lot of valueable knowledge can be transfered from one language to another etc.

    This problem is especially epidemic in the contracting market. Add to this poor salaries and longs hours of unpaid overtime that is often required. (Would your lawyer or accountant even company CEO.work for free ? Dont think so)

    The main problem is there are plenty of highly skilled professionals in this country but they are bot been considered or simply not considered by ignorant and short sighted employers. These people can learn new technologies (just like newbies) but also can bring valuable business skills and experience.
    Things that employers are often complaining are lacked in newbies.

    Using cheap overseas labour will help in the short term but its just going to make problems for the long term. Plus it'll help make IT less attractive to people looking for a rewarding and challenging career.

    (Its going to be end like engineering where in the boom years employers found they didnt have enough attracted to the industry together with large numbers been made redundant/retired also universities closing down engineering depts etc.)

    If there really is a skills shortage, then its the dim witted employers own making !
    anonymous
  • Thats not the only problem. If you decided to take a career break, go off to study or made redundant employers just look at you in a negative light.

    The attitude from employers seems to be you havent programmed recently so bye bye. Ok tech moves quickly but to be they dont place any value to other qualities like experience, interpersonal skills, business knowledge also a lot of valueable knowledge can be transfered from one language to another etc.

    This problem is especially epidemic in the contracting market. Add to this poor salaries and longs hours of unpaid overtime that is often required. (Would your lawyer or accountant even company CEO.work for free ? Dont think so)

    The main problem is there are plenty of highly skilled professionals in this country but they are bot been considered or simply not considered by ignorant and short sighted employers. These people can learn new technologies (just like newbies) but also can bring valuable business skills and experience.
    Things that employers are often complaining are lacked in newbies.

    Using cheap overseas labour will help in the short term but its just going to make problems for the long term. Plus it'll help make IT less attractive to people looking for a rewarding and challenging career.

    (Its going to be end like engineering where in the boom years employers found they didnt have enough attracted to the industry together with large numbers been made redundant/retired also universities closing down engineering depts etc.)

    If there really is a skills shortage, then its the dim witted employers own making !
    anonymous
  • Two very interesting comments. The implication is that the skills shortage is real enough but it is in management and HR rather than in technical skills. I would support this whole heartedly.
    anonymous