SILICON VALLEY: Americans Aren't Skilled Enough To Do The Jobs We Need

mark zuckerberg, disrupt 2012,

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote an OpEd today for the Washington Post arguing for immigration reform and introducing his new political platform, FWD.us, with support from tech stars like Reid Hoffman, Eric Schmidt, and Marissa Mayer.

Zuckerberg argues that our current immigration system is outdated and won’t help America compete in the global war for talent:

Today’s economy is very different. It is based primarily on knowledge and ideas — resources that are renewable and available to everyone. Unlike oil fields, someone else knowing something doesn’t prevent you from knowing it, too. In fact, the more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be.

This can change everything. In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country. A knowledge economy can scale further, create better jobs and provide a higher quality of living for everyone in our nation.

Silicon Valley has recently jumped on this issue. One high-profile group, including executives from Google, eBay, Microsoft, and more, sent a letter to President Obama, pushing for Congress to raise the cap on the number of foreigners allowed to enter the country annually. Many support a start-up visa, which would make it easier for entrepreneurs to enter the country.

Right now, most skilled immigrant professionals have an H1-B visa, which requires workers to remain with their sponsoring employer for a minimum of three years. Without a change of status from a work visa to permanent resident status, the only way to change jobs during this period is if another company agrees to take over sponsorship — and that’s an expensive and complicated process.

Here’s a chart that shows our current immigration caps:

Migration PolicyUltimately, the problem in Silicon Valley points to a much larger one, which is that Americans aren’t skilled enough to do the jobs we need.

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