Bill Gates is doing a speaking tour of college campuses in order to get naive students interested in Computer/IT careers, and to push his immigration agenda. As part of that tour he went to the University of Waterloo in Canada where he gave a speech to an audience of high school and college students.
The university has a web page where you can find out more about the Bill Gates visit. They even have a video of the entire presentation.
I made a short 2 minute clip of the video (at about 52 minutes into the 1 hour presentation) where he criticized the H-1B program because he thinks it's too restrictive. He praised Canada for its loose immigration policies that make it easy for foreigners to get work visas. Bill Gates said that there must be a "free flow of talent" between the U.S. and Canada but never mentioned how that large labor pool enriches his portfolio.
The articles below have a few comments by Gates that are worth mentioning. This explains why it's so difficult for anyone over the age of 35 to find jobs at Microsoft:
"Why do young people play such an important role in innovation, even though older people have greater breadth of knowledge and a deeper understanding of their field? [snipped] It's not unusual to have the best solution to a tough problem come from one of the youngest people working to solve it. Often, our first reaction is that what they are suggesting is crazy, until we understand that they have come at the problem in a creative, new way."
Lots of brouhaha was published in the media when Microsoft set up a development center in Vancouver, Canada. Bill Gates said that the Canadian office was necessary because it was so difficult and expensive to import H-1Bs into the U.S. Gates praised Canada because: "The Canadian government makes it easier to bring in smart people from various countries.".
You might wonder where all the smart people are coming from to work in Vancouver. Buried in the Financial Post article below the truth is revealed. The smart people Gates adores so much are coming from China, although Gates also mentioned "other countries", which probably means India. I doubt that Gates includes Canadians on his list of smart people anymore than he includes Americans.
He said Microsoft has looked to other countries such as China to help fill "a pretty significant shortage" of IT workers and has set up development centres, including one in Vancouver, to develop new talent.
The following statement by Gates needs some discussion because there is far more to it than meets the eye:
"There should be a free-flow of talent from the U.S. to Canada and Canada to the U.S. There's bright person who wants a job - it shouldn't be hard to go across the border and do that. We should make it as seamless as possible."
Gates is only telling half the truth, because it is very easy for Canadians to cross the border to work in the U.S. Microsoft or any other employer can obtain TN (Trade NAFTA) visas for anyone that they need to transfer between the Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. TN visas are unlimited and quick and easy to obtain, so Microsoft should have no problem moving as many people as they want to the U.S. [Microsoft looks for talent in developing countries, Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks to university and high school students during a stop in Waterloo, Ont. on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. ( The Canadian Press Updated: Thu. Feb. 21 2008]
So what is Bill Gates complaining about?
Moving Canadians into the U.S. isn't an issue for Gates, but moving foreigners who work in Canada is. In order to get a TN visa Microsoft's Chinese and Indian employees must become naturalized citizens of Canada, otherwise they have to get H-1B visas which are in short supply. Getting naturalized in Canada isn't a big deal for those who have jobs but Bill Gates probably doesn't want to use Vancouver as a drop house for non-Canadians any longer than he has too.
I have contended since the opening of that Vancouver office that Gates intended to use it as a backdoor to get foreign workers into the U.S. Apparently he is having some trouble getting as many TN visas as he would like, so now he is on another lobbying campaign to increase the H-1B cap.
See also 'Pretty significant shortage' of IT workers alarms Gates | Touts opportunity to work on 'sexy products', By Jordana Huber, Financial Post, February 22, 2008 and What's Right With Young People Today, By Bill Gates, Globe And Mail, February 25, 2008