As the immigration debate has been renewed, a group of senators have advanced an initiative for the tech industry that would use funds for increased high-tech visas to fund billions of dollars of STEM education grants. ACT’s support for this proposal, the I-Squared Act, was highlighted on the Senate floor by its sponsors upon introduction of the bill. Below is the text of our letter to sponsor Senators Klobuchar, Hatch, Coons and Rubio.
ACT is greatly encouraged by press reports indicating that the I-Squared Act will soon be introduced to address the technology industry’s labor shortage. Your legislation would provide both near and long-term solutions to finding highly-skilled workers that are essential to ensure America’s continued leadership in the tech economy.
As you are well aware, U.S. schools and universities produce far fewer graduates in STEM fields than our industry requires. ACT’s small business members repeatedly raise this issue with their elected representatives whenever they visit Washington. To find candidates for the many unfilled openings in their companies, our members need the ability to hire qualified applicants from abroad.
Increasing the number of H-1B visas will relieve our immediate staffing needs, but it does not provide a tenable long-term solution. We must also focus on improving resources in our schools here in America to fill the needs of our growing software industry. Making a commitment to expand STEM education at the secondary and university level is critical in order to produce enough graduates ready to enter this high-wage marketplace. This must be our long-range goal so we do not remain dependent on foreign labor.
With increased demand for specialists in computer science, our industry is also ideal for worker retraining programs. Many unemployed or underemployed workers possess skills that would translate well into positions in our field.
ACT’s members are very pleased that the I-Squared Act addresses all of these concerns. This balanced approach, addressing our immediate needs while investing in the future of our economy, is the ideal solution.
We applaud your introduction of this legislation and look forward to working with you to tackle these issues critical to our industry’s future.