Here’s a fascinating story on how tech companies find it much more economical to hire new people from overseas than to retrain their own workers in new technologies.
Retraining existing workers produces “less value” for employers than hiring guest workers from abroad, a high-tech industry representative said during a 19 March media conference call. Speaking for Compete America—a coalition of companies, universities, and trade associations that supports raising H-1B visa quotas—Scott Corley, the group’s executive director, made that statement in answer to a question from this reporter about why, if companies are so short of talent, they do not offer retraining to their experienced employees rather than laying them off.
The main point of Corley’s press event was a claim that each new H-1B visa worker leads to the creation of four additional jobs. Hence, visa restrictions, he argued, are inhibiting the creation of jobs for Americans. The basis for this claim, however,has been disputed by statistical experts. Corley did not dispute that older workers were being laid off. “It’s not easy to retrain people,” Corley said, quoted by of, and “the further you get away from your education the less knowledge you have of the new technologies, and technology is always moving forward.” (emphasis added)
Look at that last quote. Ouch. Economics drives everything folks. This is also a fairly scathing criticism of higher education isn’t it? Some universities claim that their main function is to promote creative thinking and self learning. I think instead their main function is to provide a degree that functions as a signaling function to industry. The problem is, this credential become stale rapidly in a fast moving tech industry. There is then no other means to assess the skills of employees. This is why I think things will move to a skill and competency based hiring market from a degree based market.
The way we learn in the future will be life long and driven by the student.