The Future Of Tech Recruiting Includes: Building A Pipeline, Bootcamp Graduates, and Immigration Reform

Dear Future President of the United States of America,

As you’re probably well aware, by 2020 there will be a demand for 1.4 million jobs in computing. The expected number of computer science majors who will graduate will be 400,000. That means only 2.4% of the available jobs will be filled by people who hold at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

If we assume that all 400,000 of those graduates will choose to work in technical roles, we’ll still be left with a deficit of 1 million jobs that need to be filled.

There are a number of options to reduce the deficit, and I’d like to highlight some of them for you.

Solution #1: Building a pipeline

There are currently 15 million students in the US in 9–12 grades, and a lot of great programs working to encourage kids to major in computer science. You’re probably aware of some of them like Code 2040, Girls Who Code, and Code.org, and there are much more supporting this initiative.

We’ll need these programs to continue to exist in order to see a consistent increase in students majoring at the college level.

This is also one of the most popular solutions in the industry today and many companies are supporting the initiative.

Solution #2: Career transitions

People are choosing to transition into tech. To ease the skill gap, a popular approach is to attend coding bootcamps both online and offline. As a result, bootcamps have become quite popular. There are over 67 bootcamps across the country, and they are experiencing a steep upward trend in the number of graduates each year.

In 2013 there were 2098 graduates, in 2014 there were 5,987, and in 2015 there were 16,056. If this 2X trend continues over the next 5 years there should optimistically be over 500,000 graduates by 2020.

There has been some concern around placement due to the quality of skill and talent of bootcamp graduates causing many companies to exclusively hire from 4-year colleges. However, over the years the mindset has changed, partly because of the supply of 4-year degree graduates (as mentioned in Solution #1), and partly because of the improved quality of bootcamp graduates.

Solution #3: Talent that already exists and is hungry

Now Future President I’m going to let you in on a secret source of technical talent, which you are probably already aware of immigrants.

In my native country, India, there are more than 1.5 million people that graduate with engineering degrees. There are 7,000+ engineering colleges in India compared to the US’ 1000+. I know not all of these have computing curricula, but many of them do.

In India, they have the exact opposite problem that we have here in the US: too much supply and not enough demand for engineering graduates. As a result, 20–33% of graduates in India are not hired into technical positions,and those who are hired receive low salaries that are unable to keep up with the country’s rate of inflation.

I understand that there may be concerns around the quality of education these graduates receive, and wouldn’t want you to lower your standards for entry. But that just means we should apply standards similar to ones we do for bootcamp graduates like additional training or advanced degree programs.

I’d also recommend India’s neighbor, China as another great source. China has a number of engineering colleges that are in the top 100 in the world.

Moreover, there are certainly an increasing number of international students attending colleges and universities in the US, which means that you could issue more J-1 visas for international students to study here, then have them be recruited by US employers. Doing this may also help address concerns regarding the quality of colleges and universities abroad.

In case you’re curious, the breakdown of the top 10 countries sending international students to the US including China and India in 2014 and 2015 were South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and Mexico. Collectively they sent 974,926 international students (a steady increase of about 50,000 to 100,000 each year since 2007).

Of those attending both private and public colleges, 20% major in engineering and 11.6% major in math and computer science. That’s a little under 300,000 in one year alone.

Yes, I understand that relations with some of these countries are tenuous…

But that doesn’t mean their citizens aren’t interested in immigrating and being gainfully employed productive members of a new country.

As you know, the US issues 65,000 H-1Bs a year across industries and exempts another 20,000 for people who have a master’s degree or higher. 47% of request for H-1Bs come from the computer industry, but that doesn’t mean they go fulfilled.

Companies like Microsoft have the largest number of H-1B visas, around 4,000. But what are the rest supposed to do?

As you can see the current rate of immigration doesn’t help resolve the deficit in talent.

Why not remove the restrictions?

What is the worst thing that is going to happen

First, they may decide to go back to their home country. If they have to be on a visa for more than a couple years, and if they are underpaid and aren’t given the same job mobility as citizens and permanent residents, it will happen.

They will become demotivated and go back to their home country out of frustration because let’s face it’s basically taxation without representation. And you and I both know what happened the last time people were taxed without representation…

But if they were given citizenship instead, they’d stay and continue to innovate in the US, rather that in their home country, wouldn’t you want that to keep advancing the US technologically?

They’d stay and pay taxes. Let me remind you that you’ll be needing those precious dollars to support all the programs your administration will want to create during your first term.

They’d stay and have babies. Those babies will continue to fill the pipeline by attending US universities, and continue to build the ecosystem.

I understand there are concerns about overcrowding, crime, abuse of social welfare programs , and probably countless others. However, there’s more compelling evidence regarding the economic advantages due to immigration reform and would alleviate much of the labor shortages that are increasing our debt so I’m having a hard time understanding why we wouldn’t want to face those gains.

I’ve given you a bunch of numbers, because at the end of the day I’m an engineer at heart, and it’s hard to deny data right?

But just to seal the deal, I know as soon as you’re sworn in you’ll start to worry about 2020, why not create more citizens who will ensure your re-election? ;)

So Future President of the United States of America let’s continue to keep this nation great and the world leader in innovation by supporting one of the principal groups of people who’ve built our great nation: immigrants.

Sincerely,

Poornima

First Generation Indian American Immigrant since August 1984