Microsoft: Thousands Of IT Jobs Going Unfilled

Technology Staff Editor
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Despite the fact that the national unemployment rate is hovering above 9%, hi-tech companies are finding it tougher than ever to fill all of their open positions, a Microsoft official said. "Filling our talent need remains a serious challenge," said Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith, in testimony this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security. Smith said that as of May, Microsoft had 4,551 job openings--including 2,629 computer science positions--but it's taking the company up to 65 days on average to find qualified workers for open spots. Smith said the problem facing Microsoft and other tech companies has two elements. First, the U.S. educational system is not producing computer scientists and engineers in sufficient numbers to meet domestic demand. "The unemployment problem in the United States is also a skills problem," he said. The number of computer-related bachelor's degrees awarded by U.S. colleges and universities fell from about 60,000 in 2004 to 38,000 in 2008, said Smith, adding that 60% of individuals who graduated from an American educational institution last year with a Ph.D in computer science were foreign nationals. Smith said that although the overall unemployment rate is higher than 9%, the rate for IT workers in the U.S. is 4%, below the government's 5% definition of full employment. "What is clear is that our country is operating with a dual unemployment rate." Microsoft this spring provided $6 million to help launch Washington STEM, a privately funded organization that aims to boost student achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math in schools in Washington state. But the problem goes beyond education, Smith said. Until more Americans are available to fill hi-tech jobs, U.S. immigration policies need to be relaxed to make it easier for companies like Microsoft to import workers to fill the gap. "Our continued ability to help fuel the American economy depends heavily on continued access to the best possible talent. This cannot be achieved, and certainly not in the near term, exclusively through educational improvements to 'skill up' the American workforce." Microsoft wants the federal government to raise the cap on employment-related green cards, which presently sits at 140,000 per year. It's also pushing for the elimination of country-specific caps that limit the number of individuals that can emigrate from certain countries. The software maker is most concerned that the caps disproportionately affect India and China, both of which have trained millions of new tech workers in just the past few years.

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  • law4art
    Back whien I was younger, my father told me that if my company did not have enough work and asked me to cut the yard or sweep the floor "you do it because they can always send you home". The thing I remember was, if the company wanted things done the proper way "they taught you how they want it done"! Now they just want you to know it! Guess what BIG Corporations one of two things need to happen here 1. For those of us still in school it would benefit you to create the course work then we can all graduate knowing how you do things or 2. YOU NEED TO TRAIN US! All I can say is the corporate world has gotten lazy just wanting to sit back while money falls on the desk. For those of you who have paid the dues I say shame on you for not even being a mentor. Yes you support highschool students but what about those with real life experience yes those of us in our 40s we have had our children raised them and now we no longer have the support of the corporate world we helped create. My suggestion is to look for thoses in the 30'S to 50's to find your work force. Better yet certify those of us that can do the job and stop worrying so much about your damn profit. last, the US would be in much better shape if you had not sent our work off shore in the first place. You made America weak not us!
  • Harold Johnson
    Harold Johnson
    There is no shortage of skilled engineers. There is just a shortage of cheap ones. As companies become more reliant on technology that they don't understand they struggle to contain the costs.
  • two cents
    two cents
    My take is that Microsoft is having trouble with turn over. ?I've heard turn over rate as high as 30%. ?Not sure how accurate that is. ?We don't hear companies like Apple, Adobe, Google, etc. complain about lack of talent. ?Anyway, an individual that comes here on an H1 visa, is basically tied to the company that sponsored him. ?To change jobs, s/he will have to get another company to sponsor him/her, which is an expensive and time consuming process and most companies shy away from it. ?Just look at today's job applications asking if the applicant will require sponsorship. ?so it's a clever way of reducing your turn over. ?For whatever reason, Microsoft can't attract and retain talent.???As a reminder, Windows XP is 10 years old this month and after hundreds, if not thousands of patches, they still release patches because of a security concern that a malicious attacker can take over... ?Swiss cheese anyone ?!
  • Craig Grant
    Craig Grant
    All these comments are very true. My last position was 15 years with a fortune 500 company in test DB creation. When I asked for further training on new tech, I was told outright that the company would not invest training $ on a 50 year old analyst when they could bring in contractors from India with experience in those tools for less! A few months later I was ordered to train the contract programmers from India and then was laid off because I was not keeping up with new technology!  This does not bode well for the future of America.
  • Zulyn DeHarty-Ryan
    Zulyn DeHarty-Ryan
    Normally I do not have any problems with Microsoft nor do I feel I have to waste time by blogging about articles, but this article has just changed my outlook on Microsoft and warrants a lengthy answer.   "U.S. immigration policies need to be relaxed to make it easier for companies like Microsoft to import workers to fill the gap."  Are you kidding me!?  I have worked in the IT industry for over 10 years but am currently unemployed only because I had to leave my last position as my husband is a military service member and the Army forces us to move around every 2.5 years(*note: talk about waste of money it the cost Government over $20,000 just to move our family.  Multiply that times the number of Army service members and you can see one areas of monetary waste which should be significantly reduced by the government, not the cutting of soldiers retirements.) Anyway, I have an Associate's degree in Information Technology from a "brick and mortar" college and a Bachelor's degree from an online college just so people cannot use the excuse that I attended one type of school and not the other (both colleges are well known and respected).  Again I also have over 10 years of experience in networking and software development.  Yet, I am not qualified for even entry level positions by most companies.  Some say I need certain certifications, but I refuse to spend money and time obtaining the certifications until they tell me the exact ones they want.  I will gladly pay for the testing and training myself AFTER I am hired and will gracefully quit if I were to fail any of the certification test (although it would not happen).  Racking up certifications to pad a resume is expensive and time consuming, only to be denied repeatedly for positions because you lack a certain certification.I am not the only IT technician in this position, I have at least four other associates in the same unemployment predicament.  With that said, there would be an even higher number of unemployed technicians if we imported personnel from other countries.  Has Microsoft learned nothing about outsourcing? Our unemployment numbers are a direct reflection of hiring non American workers.  Factory positions, call center positions, HELP DESK positions, development positions and more have all been outsourced to other countries.  Do you want to know why you (Microsoft) say there is a lack of skilled workers, because the education IT professionals must acquire is extremely costly and no one wants to spend the time, money nor effort for 6+ years in hopes that they might possibly gain an entry level position at the end of said education that doesn't even cover the college/certification loan expenses.  On top of that, you require years of experience in order to hire these professionals (even for entry level positions) so even a high school graduate who goes to college, graduates then finds an entry level position would not be qualified to work at Microsoft for at least 15 years!  CLEARLY STATE YOUR BOTTOM LINE, MICROSOFT WANTS CHEAP LABOR.  Don't talk around the issue.  You all want to bring in cheap workers whom you do not have to pay benefits too.  That's fine, for every worker you bring in or job you outsource, you should have to pay taxes if their pay and compensation do not match that of the American standards.  I bet if that were the case there would be no talk of outside workers. Better yet, let's be more like other countries and spend more time breaking software code and distributing it out to everyone for free.  Or ignoring EULA agreements and modifying systems based on what we want. I now order hardware and software directly from China because it comes pre-hacked with all the great programs that we pay for here in the states.  If companies can outsource our jobs, then I will recoup my savings and outsource my business for cheap bundled products not available in the U.S but made by U.S outsourced businesses. There is so much I can point out just from this one article that is wrong with Microsoft, businesses in general and the economy, but honestly will anyone care!?Hopefully I was able to get my point across in a clear and concise manner.  My brain was running at a 1000 miles per millisecond while I was attempting to push my fingers to keep up with the comments I wanted to post.
  • Donald Gee
    Donald Gee
    All of the comments above are pretty much accurate. ?A better question though is what difference is it going to make by what I say? ?Are local companies going to prefer resident talent over foreign talent or not? ?Create Entry level opportunities for experienced and non experienced people that are here to allow them to enter or re-enter the market or not? If the majority of the companies are manned by foreign talent then that is really one step away from being owned by the foreign interest.
  • Jay shah
    Jay shah
    it is just excuse, they want hire cheap labor from out of USA, they are willing to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for nominal salary.  USA students spent thousands of dollars in college education and got nothing.  There's nothing wrong with the education systems, everything is wrong from big corporations because they want to hire cheap labor and look for excuses.
  • Jeanine Kastner
    Jeanine Kastner
    I agree with the comment on 8/3/2011 at 9:13:37. ?"Microsoft's comments are self-serving."
  • Matt Burkhardt
    Matt Burkhardt
    It's the mindset of "I need someone to drive a 1997 blue Toyota Corolla", and you come in and can drive a blue 1997 Toyota Corolla and can drive the manual, but they want someone with experience on the automatic. ?It's ridiculous and allowing more green cards is just a way to drive down salaries.
  • tom
    But lets not talk about the illegal age discrimination going on.  There are tons and tons of over 50 very qualified US IT workers available, but they are not even considered.    
  • Debi
    What has happened here in the USA? What ever happened to training people for these unfilled IT jobs? Any one of us with an education can fill these jobs but the excuse is "unqualified". Lets get back to hiring our American People and get America back to work! Hello MIcrosoft! I saw this coming 20 years ago and its only getting worse. What qualifies a person for "IT"? Please, lets start training people the way we use to. Thats how we become "qualified" and "experts" at what we do!
  • Karen
    My advice to those entering college used to be to choose a field that required personal contact, since any data oriented job (sw development, radiology,...) could easily go offshore. Once we start importing workers, the advantage of at least living in the US disappears. Let's face it. We're competing globally even on our own turf, and there are a lot more capable people than there are dollars that employers are willing to pay!
  • Robert Werner
    Robert Werner
    Here's the real test: Let MS (or any company for that matter) publish the EXACT qualifications and pay for an applicant they WOULD hire. That would save a bunch of time on both sides.It's no secret that HR's biggest responsibility is to continuously probe the masses to see how the ones they hired compare with the ones they didn't.
  • Dave Somerset
    Dave Somerset
    America has talent, but wastes a lot of it.  Don't let these self serving scam artists raise the limit -They are letting many senior level and experienced engineers go to waste in favor of more foriegn and young cheap degreed but inexperienced applicants.
  • GM
    A definite NO on raising the cap on green cards! ?We need jobs for those who are already here. ?We also need to stop cutting the educational budget and stop increasing tuition! ?That is why the drop on degrees, we are not producing what we need. ?Instead we block our own children when in India and China education is free!!
  • Franklin Cain
    Franklin Cain
    Everyone (not just Microsoft) is wanting to harvest highly skilled workers, but NO ONE (including Microsoft) is willing to HELP GROW new "crops" of skilled workers. ?I have been working in IT (both in the military and as a civilian) for over 20 years. ?I have a Bachelors Degree in computer science from a respected university?and yet, I've been out of work for over two years, because the various "recruiters" and "interviewers" in HR are looking for extreme depths in very specific, very narrowly defined fields of experience. ?For example, I have experience with Microsoft's SQL Server; but the version with which I have my experience is the 2003 version, not the newer 2005 and 2008 versions, so I "don't meet the requirements" even though this is a MICROSOFT product (and thus, is very similar from older to newer versions). ?If business owners and business managers are not willing to invest the time and effort to train (otherwise qualified) people with these newer, shinier products that they wish to support, then they have only themselves to blame for not being able to fill these jobs!
  • Jill Banaszewski
    Jill Banaszewski
    The last thing we need is to raise the cap on IT work green cards. ?All of our salaries have already been driven down by unemployment and the imported talent willing to work for less. ?Definitely self serving.
  • Brenda McGuire
    Brenda McGuire
    After having worked in a company that doesn't hire any IT people except those from a foreign country, I can tell you that we better wake up! These folks may be smart, but they're no smarter than US IT folks and the software they write is confusing and hard to follow, at best. Microsoft should be investing money in this country for "home grown" employees and stop looking elsewhere. Everyone who says we are "giving away" America is totally correct and we need to wake up before it's too late!
  • mb
    They should probably review their hiring process. Certification = Ability.
  • Rob
    Large software companies like Microsoft should really look in to software specific schooling. ?Indian companies do something like this. ?They could basically work it out to be a glorified internship with paid training, then people who are successful can be given a contract locking them in for a period of time. ?Then they could pay them a little less to cover the cost of the training and still have qualified training without any worry about them coming up short as often. ?At the end of their contract if they had come along, they could feed them in to roles where they'd be able to fill more complex positions. They could set up one of these campuses as part of other schools or perhaps their own small campus just to test it out. ?It would be some extra cost but in the long run I really think it would do a lot to pump highly skilled workers in to the American workforce. ?Personally, I'd jump at an opportunity where I could get software/language specific programming from the people who know it best and actually fill one of these positions.
  • James C.
    James C.
    If we want to change the direction of US corporations and US policy then we need to show them with our dollars and votes. Invest only in the stocks of companies that DO NOT outsource jobs. Buy Made is USA whenever possible and demand it when you cannot find it. Vote OUT lawmakers who favor companies who send jobs overseas, who do not pay a fair share of taxes, and who are not working to build American back to #1 by bringing jobs back into the United States.
  • Raymond H Valek Jr
    Raymond H Valek Jr
    I must agree with ?the comments already posted. ?I am a mainframe application systems developer with over 35 years experience. ?Over the years I have been employed by companies that promised education in newer technologies while taking advantage of my current skills, but the education promise was never fulfilled. ?These companies were sending the younger people to Java boot camps and for other new age training, but ignored my need for training in object-oriented and server technologies. ?One company even trained me on UNIX and a server based reporting package and then expected me to be able to design, spec, code, and implement a major redesign of an existing server based application system. ?Unfortunately, when I asked for the training needed to meet their requirements, I was told that with all my experience, I should be able to do what they asked without any further training and that was anything but possible. Needless to say, after 7 months of frustration, struggles, and even being accused of stealing from the company because I was unable to produce the desired result I was terminated. ?We need to train more existing technical people in the US in current technologies and keep our jobs in the US for US citizens.
  • acommentor
    One interesting statistic would be how many new computer science graduates they have hired in the US and how many have they hired in Bangalore, India. ?The entry-level jobs are the first to go. ?Now the more senior positions here in the US because people are at that level are all there now. ?Not to mention CS enrollment is down because Americans see no opportunities because of off-shoring.
  • Pathfinder
    What a load Microsoft is selling the .gov. I have personally applied to more than 20 positions with Microsoft at one of their non-Redmond sites - and I live there. They are advertising for senior Project or Program Managers, which I am - more than 20 years' worth in fact. I have yet to receive a single call-back, let alone any interview.They want cheap foreigners or kids with little real world experience they can low-ball rather than solve some real endemic problems by bringing in experienced, skilled people adept at avoiding project issues. It's all about the profit margin.
  • Zalek Bloom
    Zalek Bloom
    It is true - it is very hard to find cheap IT professionals. Friend of mine was looking for 1/2 year to find Java/C++/Unix programmer who will be satisfied with $25/hour. Thanks to US Congress he arranged H1B visa for one Indian programmer. Please asked your congressman to increase limit on H1B visas so more $25/hour programmers can be brought to this country.

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