Posting in Cities
Surveys show that more foreign-born professionals prefer to head back to their original countries. Should we be concerned?
Over the past several decades, many talented professionals and business leaders made their way to the United States, and Silicon Valley in particular, building companies that drove a range of new technologies and innovations into the market. However, that influx of talent is sputtering and reversing itself. Should we be concerned?
Many members of the incoming generation of talent see their home turf -- particularly China and India -- as the place to stay and make their marks. Vivek Wadhwa, a brilliant entrepreneur and academician, recently voiced concern in an article in TechCrunch about the growing "reverse brain drain," in which talented people drawn to Silicon Valley are increasingly flowing back to their countries of origin.
Last year, he and research teams at Duke, Harvard and Berkeley polled 1,203 returnees to India and China and found emerging economies such as India and China now have a strong pull for the same talent that helped make the US the innovation powerhouse of the world. Wadhwa's team also surveyed 1,224 foreign students within the US, and found that only six percent of Indian, 10% of Chinese, and 15% of European students planned to settle in the US long term.
While on the surface, it may appear to some that having foreign-born talent leaving the country frees up employment for domestic workers, the opposite may occur. There may be a diminishing of opportunities as a result of a reverse brain drain. Wadhwa points to statistics that show that more than 52% of Silicon Valley’s startups during the recent tech boom were started by foreign-born entrepreneurs. In addition, he adds, "foreign-national researchers have contributed to more than 25% of our global patents... foreign-born workers comprise almost a quarter of all the U.S. science and engineering workforce and 47% of science and engineering workers who have PhDs."
He recounts an eye-opening experience from a couple of weeks ago:
I spent Columbus Day in Sunnyvale, fittingly, meeting with a roomful of new arrivals. Well, relatively new. They were Indians living in Silicon Valley... When introducing the topic of skilled immigration, the discussion moderator, Sand Hill Group founder M.R. Rangaswami asked the obvious question. How many planned to return to India? I was shocked to see more than three-quarters of the audience raise their hands. ...the generational difference between older Indians who have made it in the Valley and the younger group in the room was striking."
In his research (accessible here) Wadhwa says that the workers returning to Asia tended to be highly educated, specializing in management, technology, and science. He says there are several reasons why skilled professionals are opting to go back home:
Perceived quality of life: "And while they make less money in absolute terms at home, most said their salaries brought a “better quality of life” than what they had in the U.S. (There was also some reverse culture shock—complaints about congestion in India, say, and pollution in China.)"
Family values: Wadhwa says "67% of the Chinese and 80% of the Indians cited better 'family values' at home. Ability to care for aging parents was also cited, and this may be a hidden visa factor: it’s much harder to bring parents and other family members over to the U.S. than in the past. For the vast majority of returnees, a longing for family and friends was also a crucial element."
Prestige and career advancement: With a US education or US-based experience under their belts, these professionals found immense career opportunities on their home soil. "About 10% of the Indians polled had held senior management jobs in the U.S. That number rose to 44% after they returned home. Among the Chinese, the number rose from 9% in the U.S. to 36% in China."
General economic health: Only seven percent of Chinese students, nine percent of European students, and 25% of Indian students believe that the best days of the U.S. economy lie ahead. Conversely, 74% of Chinese students and 86% of Indian students believe that the best days for their home country’s economy lie ahead.
Where does the United States have an edge for these professionals and students? Salary and compensation are considered better in the States, but, ironically -- considering the raging debate now taking place -- healthcare is also considered better in the US than that provided within their home countries.
India and China have come a long way from just a couple of decades ago, when they were impoverished and mainly agrarian nations. They have become exciting hotbeds of innovation and growth. It's only natural that the talent that arises in these countries see more reason to stay or go back, so some of the reverse brain drain is unstoppable. But companies and policymakers need to focus on ways to make the US more attractive again to foreign-born talent -- the country that attracts the best and brightest from around the globe is the country that stays the most competitive in the global economy.
Clearly, more efforts need to be made to nurture and develop North American talent domestically as well. Young people need to be encouraged and financially supported to attain the highest educational levels possible. The entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that fuels places such as Silicon Valley -- and can revitalize industries in other cities -- needs to be unleashed and cultivated. In addition, the global nature of today's organizations -- with lightening-speed connectivity between any points on the globe -- provide ways to tap into talent even if they do return to their home turf. Remember, this flows both ways -- businesses from other parts of the globe need North American talent as well.
Oct 18, 2009
This short article posted only at the web site is truly good.
Vivek keeps trotting out this copypasta every quarter. It's been debunked. Repeatedly. Sorry that you guys were the latest to make chum from chum. Here, read this: http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/2009/12/vivek-wadhwa- poisoning-well-for-profit.html Seriously. The Peace Corps / foreign student return model has worked for over 100 years. The only 'urgency' comes from Vivek Wadhwa, acting in the interests of the upper castes of his fellow countrymen in India, at the expense of the rest of the country - - as well as ours. --Drunken Economist
To canuck31- No, you should not shut up. You should repeat it often and louder. For you have hit the nail on the head.
We have a pretty badly distorted conception of what constitutes the Best and the Brightest and their national origin is not relevant. The Captains of the Financial Industry recently defended the spending of bail-out money, to wine and dine their Best and Brightest because otherwise they might lose them. It is some mess the Best and Brightest got their Industry into and I cannot help but wonder if the Worst and Dumbest could really have outdone them by much. I am a Canadian not a U.S. Citizen so I should sit down and shut up, foreigner that I am. But one of the things that leapt out at me from the "Brain Drain" comments, squares with my experience. I am 22 years retired but in my last ten years of employment I was appalled by the seriously flawed command of the English language displayed by a number of Canadian born employees including some technical school graduates and university graduates up to and including PHDs. Some the latter could not put together three consecutive sentences of cogent English. They were not technically ignorant but when it came to preparing a coherent, chronological, written report of the quarter's research results, they were incompetent. And the quality of English in many of the comments regarding the "Brain Drain" display a similarly poor grasp of cogent English usage. In my experience the worst offenders were not even first generation Canadians. I tended to feel that a few problems with English were to be expected from them and a few more problems from immigrants but not from third generation Canadians, born, bred and educated here. Far too many native born North Americans border on functionally illiteracy, giving rise to concerns about the future of our democracies. An illiterate citizenry is ripe for exploitation by Fascists and extreme religious zealots. The "Brain Drain" is not even in the same class.
I'd like to be egalitarian, but the truth is many of the comments (though possibly vitriolic) are basically true. I find many visa workers (and the companies hiring them) are opportunistic, with no real interest in the long-term good of the company or this country. They do indeed displace qualified American workers. More often than not, they have poorer technical skills, less ability to communicate, and lower standards of integrity. I have also noted the element of parochialism, mentioned by someone else - especially among Indians. There are certainly those who demonstrate a commitment to the same ideals we hold and I embrace them as co-workers and would defend them to the end. However, the going-home of the average foreign worker is more likely to be to the benefit of all than a loss, as the author would imply.
The H-1B Visa program for foreign IT workers essentially is institutionalized discrimination against American workers. This is because companies request a certain amount of H-1B workers at the beginning of the year - for that year. The local American IT worker is not even given a serious chance. This is discriminatory, and un-American.
It may kindly be noted that, if Indians or other International citizens have come here for work, they have come here with the requirements from the companies. If some one comes here from a different country for pursuing Masters Degree or pHd...they are paying a hell lot of cash to schools and are studying here... and its one of the biggest business for US called "education". Each time a student comes from some other country ... he/she does ask the Univ people regarding job opportunities later , only to get aome beautiful answers from the schools. If this has to be stopped.. .schools have stop this business too .. . Schools cannot mislead students by giving false admirations. .. .And its highlighted.. .. by every comapany..here that .." We are Equal Opportunity Company " .. What does that mean . . some comapanies go on and even give a definition saying that .. :any Sex , Caste...etc. .. . and any national origin ... then they got to first decide on it .. . If this is goin to go on . .it is going to hit the Com anies here in a very bad manner. . So talent has to be given opportunity .. .no mattter where they are originating from . .what ever nationality they belong to. . .
After decades of being "the best and the brightest", I was suddenly "overqualified" thanks to the H1B's ... even though there was virtually no difference in wages. I found my peers were in the same boat. We were tossed overboard in a flash for people who could barely speak English and didn't have domain expertise... because one implanted Indian manager equals a succession of Indian hires. My eyes were really opened when it became tougher and tougher to find work, and I had to start recruiting to earn a living. I had managers tell me that one H1B would interview, and another would show up for the job. We had to orally test every one of them, because 70% of them lied outright on their resume about their "experience". (We couldn't have them just take a test, b/c it would be passed off to someone who DID know the material.) Propaganda -- you bet, these remarks are spot on! It's time they ALL went home! Maybe experienced AMERICAN workers will be able to find decent jobs for a change. I won't be looking for one of those jobs when they start calling me again (actually, they've already started calling and I'm turning down "opportunities"). A few years ago, disgusted, I said "screw Corporate America" and went back to school for Graphic Design. With Art skills in addition to Coding skills, I'm perfectly happy doing web development for Mom & Pop companies, and the money is the same as I was making in the mid-90's.
Vivek Wadhwa, an Entreperneur want-to-be turns himself into a ?brain drain? snake oil salesman Vivek Wadhwa results in two startup failures and millions of loss for the investors. He knows high tech slave trade more than high tech business. Even with hundreds of high tech slaves from overseas under his disposal, he still fails miserably in his second startup stunt at Relativity Technologies and is fired by the board.
The H-1B program forces qualified Americans to train their replacements before they are laid off from their jobs. There is no "reverse brain" drain whatsoever; temporary foreign worker programs have been investigated by both Congress and the USCIS and have found at least 20 percent of foreign workers to be outright frauds. In the IT field it is common to hear of American resumes being appropriated by foreign candidates over the Internet and hiring schemes in which candidates are placed at firms who have none of the skills needed for the jobs. These job positions have milked millions of dollars in wages from corporations even when the process of discovering the fraud terminates the H-1B worker. The H-1B visa program has the sole purpose of using loopholes to bring in workers for cheap just so that productive Americans be laid off. Have you looked at the unemployment rate lately? Microsoft's Steve Ballmer once claimed that for every H-1B hired there are 4 or 5 Americans who get jobs. This has been proven false many times over; everyone who studies the H-1B program finds that it has created massive unemployment and thrown out of work hundreds of thousands of accomplished and experienced American tech workers.
They are going home because they've destroyed all the jobs. CA's economy is a disaster. Silicon Valley, taken over by the "best and brightest" in 1998 is dying. Failing to produce any new innovation or jobs as promised, they are now going home. They've grifted out all the money, collapsed all the companies, sent the money back to their home countries and lo and behold! A deep recession! Where is the economic boom these allegedly brilliant workers promised us in 1998 when we raised the visa caps? Wahdhwa is being paid by India's NASSCOM lobby to promote this junk. Did I mention that Apple hires mostly American workers and Apple is booming?
Since we can't seem to protect our borders, we need to convince those from the "nothing to lose" crowd to go back home as well.
And about time too - several prominent people have always maintained that these talents who have been basically educated in their respective countries at their great expense have been poached wholesale from contributing to their own economies and development. It is true that America and the west have been runaway technologically advanced places but no one can deny thet at least in part it is so because of the best of the world's talent on tap. Any country must be on the lookout for such talent - no one blames them for it - but when the flow is one way the west only stores trouble for themselves. It is time the west realised that 'Allowing' the up and coming countries to catch up at least is in their own best interests. I believe that all the world's ills (poverty, arms races, disease, corruption, clean water and power supply) will be alleviated, if not cured if the countries were half a sdeveloped as the west is.
The authors should know better than to print this Indian propaganda. This flawed "research" has zero credibility, peer review or audit. The study?s premise (superiority of Indian talent) mirrors Aryan race superiority philosophy. Change Aryan to Indian, Jews to American workers , what do you get ? Nazi Germany. Since when are Americans less qualified or less capable than tech workers in India? Give me a break.. Talent knows NO borders and the brightest and the best are everywhere. The real story America needs to know is how the H-1B and L-1 temporary visa programs have obliterated the American Middle class. The H-1B program facts show greed, deception, and political corruption at its best. The story starts with Microsoft and other greedy corporations, convicted felon and Microsoft lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the India Inc., and the India Caucus (Hillary Clinton former chair), and corrupt politicians. The result of this toxic cocktail, a temporary visa program that allows US corporations to bypass American workers and hire exclusively offshore. While Americans loose their jobs, homes, healthcare, and life savings due to the H-1B program, Indian body shops bring in big $$, H-1B workers with their pregnant spouses buy jewelry in shops directly across from the unemployment office, and greedy corporations whine about not finding talent. Why can't American companies find American talent? Because they don't want to. The disgusting part - today this is legal. Insist your elected officials pass S887 - or vote them out in November.
It seems like everyone who took the authors to task over this article clearly already have rock solid opinions on this topic. But if you have lived in the technology field you know just how dependent we are on foreign born people who have decided to come to the US. When a foreign born person starts up a new company in silicon valley, they don't restrict employment to foreign workers, they employ 90% US born workers. Most major inventions since the 1940's have come directly from or indirectly from immigrants. So the argument here is if those people didn't come to the US to innovate then somehow an MBA student working on Wall Street is going to create technological innovation? Come one, wake up paranoid people. A Brain drain is bad for the US and if you would objectively look at this issue you would agree. US born students are getting business degrees, not engineering degrees. Foreign born students are the ones getting engineering degrees (and advanced degrees at that). And it won't be long before developing countries start to get better at supplying those degrees for their own citizens and then there will be no need to come to the US at all. BTW, the brain drain is a fact. If we come to grips with that then we understand that in response we need to make sure we move more of our young population into technical fields (math, science, engineering). Maybe we can all at least agree on that need. db
Sorry, but 'Fradwa' has been debunked repeatedly as a think-tank for hire type: See comments at my blog and at the original story: http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/2009/10/oh-noes-indians- chinese-are-leaving.html -Drunken Economist http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/ http://twitter.com/drunk_economist
I manage teams of Indians, Ukrainians, Costa Ricans, Chinese and Filopinos. Only the FILOPINOS are worth the trouble. This is just another trick to try and get more H1Bs to take away American jobs. "Best and Brightest'... you are stupid if you think you can pass off that crock! The best and brightest are AMERICANS. Go blow yoru nose and wipe off the scum from kissing the ahole of your George Soros puppet: oBUMa.
Talk to a recruiter and ask him/her as to how hard it is to find talent. I have been personally involved in recruiting a PHP Developer in Chicago and found it almost impossible to find even reasonably good talent among locals/H1Bs - obviously a lot of them have went back. Yes, you do get resumes - tons of them, when you scan the resume, it feels like you just want to recruit them the next day - talk to them and you will find that they have almost zero knowledge of what they say they have been doing or they would have worked on some Mainframe or other stuff long back and they can pick it up on job. Huh !
Can all these reports really be just H1B propaganda? I have to admit, I find the idea plausible, even too plausible, given the brazen lying I have seen over the years by supporters of H1B and similar programs. I hope other readers remember the video leaked a few years ago of a lawyer telling his corporate clients to lie about trying to find skilled employees here in order to get their application for H1B positions approved. They really do lie that shamelessly. Nor is basic honesty the only problem with the widespread use of overseas tech workers. There is a more fundamental problem, one that should concern even the amoral: the low cost of overseas tech workers has given the industry an excuse to do nothing about the industry-wide management failures detailed so brilliantly in "The Mythical Man Month". That is, when the short-term cost of using technical workers dropped due to cheap imports, it became all too easy for the bean counters to ignore the long term costs of following irresponsibly bad management techniques. But we all pay the long term costs, whether the managers admit it or not. We pay it in terms of increased project delays, wasted efforts, overpriced, poorly designed software (think Windows Vista)... and even in unemployment of highly qualified tech workers in the US.
It has been easy for the world in general to leach off of the American economy, technolgy, and way of life. I would agree, its time for some due respect, and stop providing special priveleges to those who aren't part of, and won't contribute to this country's future.
For 20 years, the domestic workforce has been completely bypassed in search of "the best and the brightest" (ie. "the cheapest and most visa-constrained") foreign tech workers. With sever unemployment among IT workers, it is time to end the H-1B/L-1 programs and stop the discrimination against American workers.
These 'reports' and 'studies' are attempts to persuade government to increase the H1B visa limits. Question: Name the 'foreign born' who've significantly advanced our nation. Ever. Answer: Many of those who do make the list, like, say, Dr. Bose, came and stayed. Others are (supposedly) leaving now for the very reason they came in the first place. You can call it opportunity, but I call it opportunism. They didn't contribute that much to begin with, and, now that the money's getting tight, they're off looking for the next opportunity. You can't really fault them, I suppose, but we won't really miss them either. There's a reason Microsoft, GNU, UNIX, IBM, Ford, GM, Boeing, General Electric, Westinghouse, Chrysler, ... all started here. Moreover, there's a reason such enterprises didn't start anywhere else. It's time for some long-overdue respect, and for those who came for what they can take to leave it to those who came for what they can add.