The comic Stephen Wright once said, microphone in hand, “I lost my job. Actually, it's not lost. I know where it is. It's just when I go there, someone else is doing it.
It has to be especially vexing to engineers who have lost their jobs during the current downturn to see development jobs going overseas where labor is cheaper or being filled domestically by engineers on H1-B visas. Although there is a tendency to view jobs being performed by engineers working on H1-B visas the same as jobs that have migrated offshore, the two should not be painted with the same brush.
Michael Barr wrote about job emigration in his editorial, “Distributed development.” Jack Ganssle followed up with his “H1-B visas and your job.” Michael and Jack address an area of growing concern in these difficult economic times: the loss of jobs. Their observations are thought provoking and have generated several equally thoughtful responses.
The results of the poll about H1-B visas clearly indicate the diversity of opinion on the subject.
Ernest Hollings, the Senior Senator from South Carolina who is retiring at the end of his term recently noted that since the end of World War II, the percentage of the US workforce in manufacturing has dropped from 40% to 10%. Given that trend, it is understandable that engineers involved in design and development would have concerns for their jobs as well. Michael's and Jack's observations, and the responses they generated, help bring some light to these complex issues.