Listeners to Friday's Radio Derb heard me say this at 14m16s into the podcast:
There's a chicken-and-egg issue with the supply of tech workers. If we bring in a great mass of foreigners to do software development, that zone of employment becomes foreignized. That has two negative consequences:
- As blogger Half Sigma observed in the classic text on this back in 2007, foreignization on that scale reinforces the idea of IT work as a low-prestige occupation. To quote Half Sigma: "Americans see an industry full of brown people speaking barely intelligible English, and this further lowers the industry's prestige." You may say that's deplorable, and you may be right, but it's how human nature works.
- As foreignization advances and early entrants rise to middle-management positions, they will preferentially hire their fellow-countrymen over Americans. This effect is magnified by some large multiple when the foreignization is sourced mainly from just one or two countries, as it currently is.
Those two points mean that smart, ambitious young Americans don't find a career in IT appealing. They go for the law degree or the MBA — lines of work that have some prestige. Foreignization isn't the solution to a shortage of willing American IT workers; it's the cause of it.
@USTechWorkers have just tweeted the same point, though more nicely:
After effectively driving out Americans from the IT/STEM fields, future generations of Americans refrain from entering those career paths because they know those careers are rigged against them. Thereby, creating the "shortage" claims, & then to, "Americans won't do these jobs".