The H-1b training program is a sham

The H-1B fees paid by employers of H-1B’s are used to provide education programs that create more American High-tech workers.

Those supporting H-1B often justify their position with this statement, and actually believe that these training programs help reduce America’s reliance on alien labor.  Congressmen who claim that they would normally be opposed to the H-1B program often state that the only reason they support the H-1B program is because of this training program.  However, this training program is a complete sha
m, and does not achieve its intended purpose.  

When these H-1B user fees were legislated in 1998 along with higher H-1B quotas, the rationale was that the increased H-1B quota would be needed only temporarily, while H-1B user fees would fund training programs to develop “home-grown” talent.  

The H-1B user fees have been going to train technicians, not to train people to do the jobs now occupied by the H-1Bs.   Technicians created from these training programs are not qualified to become computer programmers.  These technicians are locked into lower paying administrative and support positions that do not require the level of education that a computer programmer must have.  Until these fees are used to fund four-year college degrees in computer science or a related computer degree, this will always be the case.

Older programmers don’t need formal training in new languages or technologies.  Just put them to work, and they can learn quickly on the job.  In other words, the training programs do not reduce usage of H-1Bs, and even if aimed at programmers would not be necessary in the first place.

These training programs do some social good, in the sense that they can raise some blue-collar workers, typically minority people, into the white-collar world.  However, these technicians are finding their new-found skills inadequate in depth to maintain employment in the recession.
[See Related Story]

UPDATE From Norm Matloff: 
I’ve stated many times that the training programs funded by the H-1B user fees don’t do anything at all to achieve their stated purpose, i.e. to reduce H-1B usage.  Industry has admitted this, and what’s worse, said that this was known from the outset.

Well, now it turns out that the White House wants to use those fees to help the H-1Bs!  This of course comes while there are huge layoffs in the IT industry.

What Bush SHOULD do is issue an Executive Order that these user fees be used for their expressed purpose (reduce H-1B usage, in this case by retraining older programmers in new skills), instead of proposing something for Congress to do (change the law so as to help H-1Bs),

Every time I think I’ve seen the worst outrageous event in this story, one comes along which is even worse.


WSJ, Frontpage, Feb 19, 2002

Money from foreign workers might get redirected.

Critics of temporary H1B work visas have long argued that plenty of trainable Americans could take those jobs. Employers pay $1,000 per temporary visa they sponsor, and a 1998 law directed some of those funds toward training domestic workers. But the new White House budget, calling the $138 million program ineffective, proposes killing it and says the money would be better spent on freeing a logjam of permanent work-visa applications.

Fans of worker training, already upset about other Labor Department cuts, criticize the proposal. They could be “debilitating” to some programs, says Andy Van Kleunen, executive director of the Workforce Alliance.“The St. Louis County Workforce Board used a 2.8 million grant for training about 460 workers, but the project is to new to judge results, says Donald Holt, the country’s workforce development director.

The White House also proposes clearing permanent-visa requests in 21 days.

[See Update From AFLCIO]

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