Indian American IT association calls for doubling of H-1B quota to tackle skilled workforce shortage
Over 240 members of the ITServe association convened at the US Capitol on Tuesday to brief lawmakers about the massive shortage of highly skilled workforce in the United States.
An association of more than 2,100 small and mid-sized IT companies in the United State, mostly owned and operated by Indian Americans, has urged lawmakers to double the H-1B quota from 65,000 currently to address the massive shortage of highly skilled workforce in the country.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on this to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries such as India and China.
More than 240 members of the association named 'ITServe' converged in the US capitol on Tuesday for the first-ever in-person Congressional Advocacy Day during which they plan to reach out to Congressmen and Senators to brief them about the huge shortage of highly skilled workforce in the US.
They said the shortage of highly skilled workforce is impacting their businesses and the American advantage in general.
In addition to increasing the number of H-1B visas from 65,000 currently to 130,000 per annum, ITServe is also urging lawmakers to increase the investment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the US to develop the requisite high-skilled force within the country.
Coinciding with the Congressional advocacy of ITServe, Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi on Tuesday introduced the High-Skilled Immigration Reform for Employment (HIRE) Act.
The Act would strengthen US competitiveness by helping close the gap between the skills required for jobs that employers need to fill and the skills possessed by current prospective employees.
It would help provide additional funding to strengthen US elementary and STEM education programmes. It would also double the number of H-1B visas available to 130,000 to allow American employers, including those in critical technology sectors, to draw the best talent from around the world.
"Creating jobs and building the economy of the future requires us to lead the way in technology by developing our domestic workforce while drawing the best talent from around the world," said Krishnamoorthi.
"The US needs to maintain its leadership in technology and innovation," said Vinay Mahajan, President of ITServe.
"The startup ecosystem needs to be supercharged. One critical component of both is high-skilled workers," he added.
"The US has a large skills gap—availability of workers vs the openings for talent in IT. The HIRE Act focuses on reducing this gap through high-skilled immigration and funding for growing local STEM talent. We need the brightest minds from all over the world to keep our wide lead in technology and innovation," said Mahajan.
ITServe represents more than 2,100 IT companies spread across the United States.
"We are in 23 states. We create more than 175,000 employment, high skilled employment in the US, and we also contribute $12 billion to the GDP of the US," said Mahajan.
The US, he said, is a leader in technology and it needs to maintain that leadership. Also, the ecosystem of startups is one of the best in the world.
"But for both these things to lead in innovation and technology and for a good startup ecosystem, what you need is a common component and that is high skilled people or high skilled IT people.
"There's a lot of skill gap right now in the US, particularly the kind of availability of people with the kind of skills they need versus what they have locally over here... We have to do a lot of high school immigration from various countries all over the world.
"Our focus today is to highlight to the lawmakers that there is still a big skill gap in the US in the high-skilled area."
He added that IT Serve supports the HIRE Act.
According to Anju Vallabhaneni, from Columbus Ohio, members of ITServe would appraise the lawmakers about the problem they are facing.
"The main problem that we face is getting the right talent. To get the right talent we are dependent upon talent hires from around the world," he said.
"What they're raising is the fact that we need to expand our cadre of technologists in this country. Obviously, we always need to develop indigenous talent in the United States, but, at the same time, we need to attract the best and the brightest and most hardworking and entrepreneurial people from around the world," said Congressman Krishnamoorthi.
"Those include H-1B workers. We've had the same cap of a very limited 65,000 people for 33 years, and that needs to increase. It needs to double. And that's what we're proposing as part of the higher act. I look forward to working with ITServe," he said.
Edited by Swetha Kannan