Trump Signals Potential Place for Skilled Foreign Workers

President Donald Trump has turned much of traditional American politics on its head, and many of his policies have put some traditional Republican allies in a tough position. While these traditional allies may support some of the president’s policies, they cringe at others. Case in point: the business community.


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Business Leaders Facing Staffing Challenges

While many business leaders welcomed Trump’s tax cuts early in his first year, there are other policies that have not been as positively received. One primary example: the president’s stance on immigration.
High-tech companies, in particular, rely heavily on high-skilled foreign workers through the H-1B visa program, which  Trump has proposed making significant changes to.
They have been vocal about their lack of support for these changes and adamant about their inability to find the skilled workers they need domestically.

Skilled Workers Looking Elsewhere

With the potential for restriction to their ability to work in the United States, many highly-skilled workers are looking outside the United States to offer their services. As Emily Rauhala writes for the Washington Post, both the highly skilled foreign workers and many U.S. companies are “in a bit of a visa panic” over Trump’s proposals to crack down on the H-1B visa program.
The program, Rauhala writes, “allows 85,000 foreigners per year to work in ‘specialty occupations’ in the United States.” There’s no meat behind the stance, yet, which  Rauhala says is “creating a climate of uncertainty and fear, particularly in Silicon Valley.”
According to The Register, 40% of the 10,000+ Silicon Valley staff in a recent survey said new constraints on highly-stilled foreign workers has negatively impacted them.

A Softer Stance?

Perhaps in response to this anxiety and criticism,  Trump recently appeared to suggest what the Wall Street Journal referred to as a “willingness to negotiate on skilled foreign workers.”
It’s unclear, yet, what that willingness to negotiate may mean in practice. But it seems clear that politics may be taking a backseat to the needs of one of the primary engines of American economic growth and innovation when it comes to the fight over highly-skilled foreign workers.
It’s a complex issue and one that is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. The situation brings to light the ongoing need for specialized skills among employees that is likely to continue its upward trajectory.

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