How Immigration Uncertainty Impacts the IT Talent Shortage

Just look at the way Wall Street stocks drop in the wake of unanticipated global events and you get a good sense of how toxic uncertainty is in business. Healthy economic growth needs predictability, and the professional staffing industry is no different. While the long-term fate of high-skilled immigration sits in limbo, staffing and solutions firms are naturally going to struggle as the future of a key candidate source is unclear. Here’s what we anticipate happening to the IT talent shortage in the future and what some of our firms are doing in response to the uncertainty.

Top Talent Is Less Likely to Choose the U.S.

We’ve long taken for granted that the U.S. is the preferred destination for top technical talent. Our own STEM education lags behind other developed nations (we’re 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 countries according to the Pew Research Center), and the flow of H-1B visa holders has helped to keep the IT talent shortage manageable. Yet the actions of the current administration (we talk more about the effects of the Trump presidency on our industry here) and some bills floating around in Congress are expected to encourage high-skilled immigrants to go elsewhere. Here’s what we’re seeing:

Certain Skillsets Will Be Harder to Find

Reports show that some of the three most common titles for H-1B visa applicants are Programmer Analyst, Software Engineer, and Software Developer. Everything from common programming languages and frameworks to more niche skills will be in shorter supply until STEM education increases to fill the rift left by H-1B immigrants.  
What will be affected the least? The types of roles that tend to be filled with domestic technical talent:

  • Project managers – PMs need to have strong communication skills including familiarity with U.S. cultural norms. 
  • Cybersecurity professionals – For cybersecurity professionals working on government related projects a security clearance requires U.S. citizenship. 

Creative Solutions for the IT Talent Shortage

Though it’s clear there will be obstacles to finding high quality IT candidates in the future, that doesn’t mean IT and engineering staffing firms are not exploring alternatives.

  • Bootcamps –Whether staffing firms are running their own programs or collaborating with other organizations, boot camps are a potential source of tech skills in short supply. This isn’t a quick fix, but it does potentially help build a domestic pool of candidates. 
  • Maintaining a Strong Pipeline and Increased Redeployment  – Why let your best candidates return to the market after a contract?  Building strong candidate relationships and lower fall-off eliminate the hardest part from the current staffing equation: identifying qualified talent. Some firms are even maintaining a bench in high demand skill sets. 
  • Lobby Your Elected Officials – Don’t want to lose access to H-1B talent in the first place? Let your elected officials know. Inform your Senators and Members of Congress about the talent shortage and the importance of continued access to the H-1B visa program. For guidance on how to weigh in on this critical issues, contact the TechServe Alliance team

Want to learn more about the latest way immigration laws and other policies will impact the professional staffing industry? Make sure you attend the 2017 TechServe Alliance Conference to get updates on this issue and pick up winning strategies to take back to your team.