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Large Corporations Displacing Aging IT Workers With H-1B Visa Workers 617

New submitter genericmk writes "NPR is running an interesting story about the unfortunate status of the aging programmers in the IT industry. Older IT workers are opposing the H-1B visa overhaul. Large corporations want more visa, they claim, because of a shortage of IT talent. However, these companies are actively avoiding older, more experienced workers, and are bringing in large volumes of foreign staff. The younger, foreign workers are often easier to control, and they demand lower wages; indentured servitude is replacing higher cost labor."
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Large Corporations Displacing Aging IT Workers With H-1B Visa Workers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:18PM (#42950087)

    importing docile labor, the american way !

  • "Shortage" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:21PM (#42950119) Homepage Journal

    "Large corporations want more visa, they claim, because of a shortage of dirt cheap IT talent"

    There, ftfy

  • 52 years old.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edmanet ( 1790914 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:21PM (#42950133)
    And I really thought I'd be in management by now. But I really hate meetings.
  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:23PM (#42950153) Homepage Journal

    What, you thought only the manufacturing base could outsource? Think again.

  • by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:25PM (#42950175)
    Indentured servitude is a form of debt bondage, with no wages; it has nothing to do with choosing to work for lower than X wages and less control. Such hysterics don't speak well of /..
  • one solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:25PM (#42950183) Journal
    If they allowed H1B visa holders to find other jobs, then this wouldn't be nearly as much of a problem, because employers wouldn't be able to force them into indentured servitude. If they were able to find other jobs, their salaries would rise to the level of their ability.
  • by eksith ( 2776419 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:29PM (#42950231) Homepage
    It's just a race to the bottom in terms of dollar amount spent on manpower. It's basically outsourcing without having the workforce overseas.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:31PM (#42950261)

    It is ALL US workers.
    I have personally seen a downsize where ALL US workers were let go and ALL of the H1-Bs were retained.
    This is not a joke or a tall tail.
    And Note that US workers were at or even better in the skills that were retained.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:33PM (#42950273) Homepage Journal

    I've been observing a downward spiral in quality of web applications, sites and services for some years now. Old school programmers/developers wouldn't make some of the bone-headed mistakes I keep encountering. How can we suddenly have so many incompetant people doing this work? Easy - they know how to write code, but do not have the wisdom to avoid drop-through logic, non-intuitive interfaces, extremely fragile code, etc.

    Gotta be a mill somewhere, cranking out code monkeys who are paid by the deadline, not but the quality of their work.

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:35PM (#42950303) Journal

    As in, cost to much to pay older workers. Why? Because with corporations, greed matters I mean, the bottom line matters. Why should they pay people $60k a year when they can outsource it/hire cheaper foreigners in the states for $30k a year?

    Corporate Greed, giving your job to someone else for cheaper.

  • Crazy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:36PM (#42950313)

    Is there any other business with such an age bias, beyond sports and teen pop idols. You don't see lawyers or accountants being treated like this, nor architects or mechanical engineers. There is no reason whatsoever for a youth culture in IT and programming, experience is more valuable than anything else in this business, moreso than most other businesses.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:38PM (#42950349)

    job based health care hurts having older people work for companies.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:52PM (#42950491)

    Of course not everybody older is actually better. Older folks that have refused to learn will be on par or worse than the younger people. But older folks that have kept up are invaluable. True, young programmers can generate a lot more lines of code for the same price, but once you take quality into account and things like design and architecture, most code by young programmers sucks badly. Not their fault, but quite a bit of experience is required for good coding. Unfortunately, incompetent management cannot understand that (and most management is incompetent with regard to IT). What would be needed is something that other engineering disciplines have mastered: Qualification levels, and required minimum qualification levels of personnel used to protect you from becoming liable for software failures. While this may sound old-school, there really seems to be no other way. If electricians were the mixed bag that "programmers" are, houses would burn down all the time and many people would die from electrocution.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gma i l .com> on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:00PM (#42950583) Journal

    As an underpaid 3rd-world Gen. Y IT worker, we are just absolutely fucked. We have no options, no car or house that can be downsized. We might never have these things. Older American IT workers can demand more money because they have more options, the cost of living is not always less for the outsourced labor. So call companies that outsource unpatriotic bastards, they are, but don't act like you're not lounging in the lap of luxury compared to the foreign workers.

  • Cue the xenophobia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:09PM (#42950669)
    I work for a large company that hires based on talent. We can't get enough workers, H-1B or not. We don't discriminate based on age or anything else, just skill. The stories in my area are the same for all companies: we can't get enough skilled programmers.

    This headline will just serve as an excuse for people to post rants about how their talent is being overlooked because of the foreigners invading our shores while ignoring the fact that many people who try to work as programmers are just terrible (see: fizzbuzz).
  • Hypocracy much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:10PM (#42950687)

    Some large fraction of the slashdot crowd enjoys characterizing anti-illegal immigration types as 'racists.' Illegal immigration wiped out meat packing unions. It lowered the wage floor for tens of millions of workers.

    Don't bitch about H-1B pressure if you have no patience for textile workers whinging about their 'jerbs.' Your degree doesn't mean shit; now you're just as fungible as Sally Mae and her meat cleaver, and you have less cause to complain; the H-1B guys are at least legal.

    So don't be racist. Our borders and your job must be open to all... only racists say otherwise.

  • by kidgenius ( 704962 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:11PM (#42950693)
    It is a form of bondage though, as those workers have no freedom to move to a different company on that visa. They are tied to the company. Therefore, they have to accept a lower wage because there is no threat of them leaving for a competitor.
  • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:28PM (#42950847)

    And the clueless MBAs strike again. Business school graduates forget that the basis of capitalism is capital, not short term profits. You build capital when you care about the company sticking around for a long time, when you intend people to buy your products because of the reputation of your brand, and when you genuinely care about making the world a better place one awesome toothbrush at a time.

    MBAs on the other hand, only care about the company's survival until the next bonus time, believe that people will only buy something if they are tricked and brainwashed into it, and have no interest or knowledge of what the company actually produces.

    And when you do not care about the products you make, why would you want talented employees to make them? If quality is irrelevant, all you need is a bunch of cheap warm bodies to make whatever garbage marketing can sell. It is amazing how fast you can ruin the economy when you only intend to stay on your job until the company dies, rather than until you retire from it.

  • Re:"Shortage" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:32PM (#42950901)

    Many people like to claim that they lack talent with the relevant skills for the particular jobs. I think some of this is true, but most is BS. What it really means is that they don't want to spend even a minute training anyone. They'd rather have the person with the particulars already on the resume than hire someone who might need some minimal introduction. Ie, any older programmer is going to be able to figure out your new fad language of the year very quickly, and will be able to program it far better than your entry level worker who peppers the resume with buzzwords.

    This is where age discrimination comes in, and it's very subtle, and the people doing the discrimination don't even realize they're doing it. Managers want the exact match for a job, HR people are filtering based on keywords, executives want to give out lowest possible salary. It all adds up.

    The visa system is up for abuse, and it is being abused. Those execs who disagree about this should be made to step up and prove that no other suitable workers could be found.

  • by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:33PM (#42950907)
    Move to an area with a drastic shortage of IT talent like California (LA, Orange County or Bay Area). Every company I know has open reqs and can't find anyone to fill them. If you are any good at all, you could be making six figures within 5 years.
  • by An dochasac ( 591582 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:43PM (#42951011)

    It is illegal [doleta.gov] to pay a H1B worker less than the prevailing rate.

    Of course it is, but for corporations > a certain size, the risk * cost of punishment is insignificant compared to the benefits of ignoring corporate law. Back in the early 90s, a company was blocked from $2 Billion in contracts because of a bribery scandal, they still came out ahead. BP probably came out ahead after the oil spill, AIG, Bernie Madoff, horse meat scandal... Sorry, but we don't live in a world where the "fictional person" of a US corporation has a non-fictional conscience.

  • Re:Well Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:47PM (#42951055) Journal
    Yeah, sure it is. Hire foreigners to work for less money, and they'll send a fair portion of that out of the country, while hard-working American citizens are left unemployed. Sounds like a great way to ruin a country to me.
  • Re:"Shortage" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:48PM (#42951077)

    It's all about supply and demand. Unless you're a corporation. Look, I would love to work as cheap as an H1-B or an off-shored worker, but guess what? I have to pay American prices for American things for American living. While a corporation might be able to pull from the labor pull of *THE ENTIRE PLANET*, I have to pay whatever price milk is for milk in my city and whatever the rent rate is for rent and whatever health care costs are for health care in my area. I can't farm out my expenses to the same place my employer farms out our jobs.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @08:53PM (#42951117)

    Because the best way to avoid being burgled is to burn down your house.

  • Re:one solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cob666 ( 656740 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @09:00PM (#42951175) Homepage
    If H1B visa holders were allowed to find other jobs then there is no point in issuing H1B visas, just issue s regular work visa. The whole point of the H1B visa is to allow companies to hire people for skilled jobs that they are unable to fill with local talent. They are by design short termed and extremely limited in scope so the visa holder must leave the country when the visa has expired.

    Widening the scope of the H1B visa shouldn't be an option. I'd like to see H1B visas become even MORE restrictive. Cut the number of H1B visas issued, shorten the term, limit the number allowed per company. In fact, I'd also like to see something implemented where once a visa issued for a company has expired they can't apply for another visa for a certain length of time, also require companies applying for H1B visas to fund programs to train people for the skill they are applying for visas for, something in the ballpark of $50K per year per visa. Would accomplish two goals, would guarantee that there is training for skills that are obviously in demand and would make bringing in H1B workers more expensive, thus possibly forcing companies to hire locally again.
  • Re:"Shortage" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @09:45PM (#42951559) Homepage

    I expect there will be no relief in sight until Americans start electing politicians that put the interests of Americans first

    The politicians are already doing that. CEOs are also Americans, isn't it so? Some of the profit is donated to politicians; that's how the feedback loop is operating.

    Or perhaps you meant some other Americans, like those peons in IT? How much do they donate [memegenerator.net] to Congressmen?

    This political system is the best the money can buy. If you don't like its results then perhaps the system ought to be replaced with something else. It would be otherwise foolish to expect a different result.

    From the POV of many CEOs, american workers are overpaid, underexploited, and too pampered with benefits. Foreign workforce - who often comes from countries that we do not associate with widespread wealth - is willing to work on terms of pseudo-slavery. The american worker might just as well curl up and die, he is not needed anymore, aside from a handful of highly educated workers. The american worker cannot even be a customer because he has no job and no income to pay for things. In this aspect a rice farmer in China is a better customer, he has an honest income and can buy a gizmo once in a while. The words "customer" and "employed" are synonyms.

  • by knoware ( 609841 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @09:46PM (#42951569) Homepage
    Paul, the PM: "How long will it take to completely redesign that catalog, replace Ubercart w/ a completely custom handcoded Java version instead of that PHP thing?"
    Ralph, the 50+ yo: "Based on my experience, N year(s) if you have a functional spec and unit test designs."
    Vlad, the 22 yo: " , !" (Russian to English: "not more than a month, sir!")
    Paul, the PM: "Fire Ralph! Get me 20 more Vlads! BTW the client is Amazon's remodel!!"
    CEO: "Paul, n-i-c-e job! Here's your raise and mine too!"
    Note: I see this a lot. A whole lot. Sadly, I'm a PM and I see many PMP colleagues fall for this....
  • by SwampChicken ( 1383905 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @10:02PM (#42951673)
    Easy fix. Large corporations simply to sack all their high-priced execs and get some H-1B visa ones. They'd save a *lot* more money from there than from IT...
  • Re:Crazy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @11:02PM (#42952129) Homepage

    New languages, new paradigms, new hardware.

    OK, tell me what new languages are more than different syntax on the same old constructs? I see procedural, OO (class-based and/or prototypical, with and without multiple inheritance), set/array based (APL and descendants, SQL), logic (out of favor right now), functional, and macro. That's it. And those were explored thirty years ago. Everything else is library and syntax. BFD.

    New paradigms? Well, you have web and virtual cloud. One's a boiled over client-server architecture, the other's been done since OS/360.

    New hardware? Well, if you've seen one assembler, you've seen them all. Some hardware has additional SIMD functionality (video cards, high-end bespoke processors), and you can make a Beowulf cluster but, other than that, there's nothing that wasn't there (again) thirty years ago.

    The real question is why computer science research has stagnated for the past thirty years, and why companies don't see that people who have been around for the past thirty years can pick up any of these things in about three days (having seen all of this crap for 30+ years).

    In the end, the only answer is that it's all cost. And then people wonder why no one wants to go into software.

  • Re:"Shortage" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @02:51AM (#42953295)

    The H1-B workers are living here, too. They pay American prices for American things too. They pay the same price for milk that you do, and the same rent that you do, and the same health care costs. AND, they often send a big chunk of change home to support their families. So, how are they able to do it making so much less, while you can't?

  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @04:10AM (#42953613)
    get yourself into a field where they can't outsource or insource workers. One where you need high security clearance and have to be a national in order to do the work.
  • Re:"Shortage" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @04:14AM (#42953633) Homepage

    The sickening thing is, when your business is an IT business, why would you do this to yourself? It's like a dissonant behavior where "prescribed action" doesn't even reflect upon the world it's being acted in.

    Let's say you do indeed get good value out of your Indian H1B workers (you don't, but let's just say you do). Great. This is the best possible outcome of H1B workers. But in the meantime, you're stagnating domestic IT salaries, which means talented people will not look to work for you or will leave the field. And suddenly, your domestic company is 100% dependent on foreign labor, which you need government regulation to acquire.

    And you have no hope of hiring a local, talented or otherwise, because you've effectively priced yourself out of the market - all while handing industrial expertise to foreign nationals.

  • Re:"Shortage" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @05:07AM (#42953855)

    ...so it IS possible to make a living on an H1-B sized wage, but westerners simply aren't willing to do it. The H1-B folks then have to fill in because the average westerner won't lower themselves to accept a lower wage and [gasp] bring in a roommate or two. This whole thread reeks of protectionism.

    All this attitude does is make off-shoring look more attractive than bringing in immigrant workers. As an American, it's actually in our collective best interest to take the jobs at the prevailing wages than to forego and lose lose them to immigrant workers. And it's definitely worse to fight to keep immigrants out, because that will lead to the positions being off-shored altogether. Unless you're going to fight off-shoring, too, somehow (good luck with that).

  • Re:"Shortage" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @10:21AM (#42955135)

    So it's in the best interest of Americans to slash our standard of living to that of a third world country, just so that the executives can squeeze even more labor out of our paltry wages while they live lives of extreme comfort and wealth? The goal should be to bring up the standard of living everywhere, not sacrifice any progress we've made in any one place to prop up the fiefdoms of our ruling class.

    You know that your life, also, will look worse and worse in this race to the bottom, right? You do realize that you're not one of the ruling class and you never will be, right? It's not necessary to destroy the American middle class to bring up the Indian middle class.

  • Re:"Shortage" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PlusFiveTroll ( 754249 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @11:55AM (#42955961) Homepage

    >And if you fight off-shoring, firms outside of america will eventually become more competitive than american companies and undercut them on pricing.

    Actually, something different happens. The price of living in $outside_of_America goes up (since they are making more money now) and their costs rise. Things cost what they do in America because roads are not free, schools are not free, government is not free, and not turning your environment in to a shithole is not free.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde