Talent Demands and Reactions

It’s clear our current political landscape is one of constant change. One of these changes is that this administration is creating a U.S. employment environment in which a limited number of H1B visa holders will begin to work on significantly increased salaries. We know that these actions will require employers and talent agencies to produce creative solutions that will stretch new limitations on available skills and the budgets that are generally are used to source candidates working on H1B visas.

How, then, can staffing firms remain strong business partners to their clients by helping them to bridge the gap between skills demand and impending visa restrictions … while maintaining that little thing called profitability? It’s important to note that IT staffing firms currently make up over half of the top 25 organizations requesting H1B visas and are specifically the target of new restrictions. Here are the logistics of expected changes:

  • Current H1B thresholds - current salary threshold is $60k and 85,000 visas are issued a year
  • Proposed H1B changes – new threshold salary around $100,000 - $130,000) and caps use of number of H1B holders

Let’s take a look at some interesting developments in the marketplace and in the world of education. It’s commonly recognized that U.S. students fall significantly behind their foreign peers in terms of STEM skills and capabilities. In response and an effort to create longer term skills demand solutions, schools are increasingly gearing education towards STEM curriculum. The marketplace has been flooded with a variety of programming educational courses, STEM camps for kids, and toys geared towards the earliest learners to encourage a shift in mindset from the youngest of ages. Do a quick “Google” for STEM toys available for babies and toddlers, if this shift at all sounds curious to you.

To provide more immediate solutions, there are a handful of new organizations now providing an education in programming and cyber security at zero out of pocket cost to their students in exchange for delayed tuition reimbursement; once the student lands their first job, they begin to pay towards the cost of their education. There are also organizations encouraging a greater diversity of learners into STEM education and careers. All of these efforts, of course, lead to the production of employment candidates with strong foundations in STEM.

Larger players in the talent management industry have also begun to acquire new technologies and platforms allowing for “gig” work (think Uber for jobs). When workers incorporate themselves as stand alone organizations, the need for the H1B is alleviated. There’s also been a movement toward expansion of brick and mortar locations globally to be well positioned to support the look to APAC and EMEA for skills that could previously be housed in the U.S.

Finally, the solution with the least amount of fan fare: job shadowing. This solution allows for the retention of skills in house when the H1B worker transitions to a new opportunity. And there are ways to encourage creativity here, for example offering an increased bill rate with the expectation of knowledge transfer.

Tradition dictates cost savings are identified downstream on the supply chain, so it’s not doubtful these pressures will be pushed from client to supplier. Tradition also dictates that a progressive and proactive approach to change find long term success and ensure growth.