Three Must Have IT Reforms in Washington

Kenneth Corbin from IT News reported on recent events at meetings between leading IT industry representatives, White House officials and members of Congress. These meetings represent efforts to lobby for policy action. The policies that technology stakeholders hold dear relate to the availability of skilled labor and maintaining a competitive and innovative IT industry that can sustain a strong presence in the global market.

  • Immigration.
    Many IT firms find difficulty in recruiting high-level talent and rely on skilled foreign workers admitted to the US on H-1B visas.  The industry would like to see immigration reform that raises current visa limits to increase the availability of much needed resources. According to Kenneth Corbin of IT News, approximately 120,000 applications for H-1B visas are submitted each year for which only 85,000 are available. Critics lament that this is a ploy for companies to exploit cheap labor. Some are concerned that foreign workers who are trained in the US are ultimately sent back to their country and join companies that compete with US firms.
  • STEM education.
    The IT industry is lobbying for improved K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and math. Only 2,500 high schools offer an AP computer science course. A spokesperson from Microsoft stated that inadequate education in the US, and failing to allow enough skilled workers from other countries, is causing jobs to move elsewhere.
  • Intelligence Gathering.
    Intelligence gathering practices have been detrimental to IT companies and innovations such as cloud technology. Companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo are demanding transparency in government access to digital information.

Other policies that the IT industry is emphasizing include faster broadband and new infrastructure that is secure and able to respond to the skyrocketing demand for mobile technology. The Internet of Things will bring a plethora of additional appliances and devices into networks. Patent reform has also been highlighted because of unnecessary lawsuits that slow down innovation and progress.

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