Increasing Immigration Will Lead to Cultivating a Highly Skilled U.S. Workforce

The National Journal has released an article that examines some of the benefits of increasing immigration to the U.S.

As the article points out, immigration has become a dirty word and a sore subject in recent years. This is unfortunate, because “strategically conceived and well-targeted immigration should be seen as a precision tool for America to insure the best, optimal human capital needed to compete in the 21st century.”

In the U.S, official unemployment is at 7.7%. However, despite this high unemployment, the US is still critically short in many STEM and healthcare areas. It would seem that our immigration laws haven’t evolved at the same pace as our global economy. According to Manpower Inc., the US is ranked 5th globally in talent shortages, with 49% of employers surveyed experiencing critical problems. This is in contrast to the 34% average.

In light of this problem, the National Journal has suggested four new policies, endorsed by non partisan groups, that are worth considering:

  1. Raising H-1B Caps. The H-1B temporary high-skilled visa is often the only option for foreign-born STEM graduates who want to stay in the US and work on cutting-edge research at American firms. But caps on H-1Bs, currently 65,000 per year, fill quickly.
  2. Automatic residency for targeted graduates. One of the great American success stories has been our unrivaled research universities. For decades, the US has trained some of the world’s top innovators who have subsequently been sent back home to compete in the global marketplace in the absence of visas to help them stay. To keep this talent, we should grant green cards to foreign students who earn STEM and other masters and doctorate degrees at American schools.
  3. Residency for healthcare professionals. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a shortage of doctors in the US was expected even before the 2010 Affordable Care Act added millions of people eligible for health care coverage. There is an estimated shortage of 90,000 doctors by 2020, but that figure may grow to nearly 150,000 by the end of the following decade. One way to combat this issue is to grant residency for healthcare professionals.
  4. Entrepreneur visas. There is no US visa for foreign born entrepreneurs who want to start companies that employ American workers. There has been new legislation, the Start up Visa Act of 2012, tying visas to job creation and revenue targets within a period of time. This is a great idea that should be further explored.

As the National Journal aptly points out, America’s success has always been hinged on cultivating productive human capital, and immigration is an important part of keeping our global edge.


Source: The National Journal