Re: National Sign-On Letter to House on H-1Bs, U.S. Immigration

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From: Stephen D. Williams (
Date: Sat Jun 10 2000 - 11:44:34 PDT wrote:

> In a message dated 6/10/00 1:11:42 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> writes:
> << Of course there is a big difference between the tiny percentage that are
> really into learning, curiosity, and self-improvement that read and learn
> constantly. >>
> Then there are those really talented engineers who do such a good job that
> someone "promotes" them to project management - then meetings and
> evaluations eat up all their learning time, even when working 20-hour
> days/nights. The price of experience, aka The Peter Principle.

Hence the development of a 'parallel track' for technical engineers at
enlightened companies. In fact it is starting to become more or less normal
for good engineers to make more than at least the lower level managers. I
spent too much time managing other people in the last 2.5 years. Now I'm back
to my own coding instead of being frustrated at other's efforts.

Having worked as a consultant for much of my career, I can say that being a
consultant injects a lot more sanity into the typical employment environment.
For instance, I know that I have to spend my own time and money to keep my
skills up to date rather than begging my employer to follow through on the
implicit responsibility to protect and extend my mental assets.

What's missing in the simplistic analysis of the technical marketplace for
both age-discrimination and immigration is recognition of the lack of
continual investment needed to stay current and viable in technical fields.
Companies, a majority of the time, offer no sanctioned time or support for
staying up to date, learning new technologies before they are needed, or
staying marketable. In fact, common behavior is to hope that employees won't
stay marketable while continuing their current, short-sighted work. When
companies suddenly realize that they have to move to a new platform or
technology, they seriously consider laying off their obsolete employees and
hiring those that are knowledgeable about the new platform. Employees and
potential employees need to find ways to protect themselves while rewarding
and punishing companies for their actions. The time scales are long enough
however that this is very hard. Even when companies have training programs
and budgets, employees are expected to learn everything in a 2 week class and
suddenly estimate and engage on a project with new tech without any low-risk
ramp project time.

Conversely, employees often do not make the extra effort to do more than just
get by. While there are always periods where you are distracted by hard
projects, family, etc., in this field you have to self invest.

The problem with anecdotal evidence here is that there are companies and
individuals that fall into all of these categories. When companies with poor
work environments, unexciting locations and projects, having mediocre pay and
benefits have trouble finding and keeping people they should not be rewarded
by getting access to people from cultures with even worse implied
'workplace-social contracts'. The technical marketplace should not chew
people up for 10 years and leave them unable to maintain their former

That said, it has seemed to benefit the US to allow technical immigration. It
is a SEVERE problem that people are indentured for years with sometimes
rediculously low salaries.


-- - Revolutionary E-Business Communication Stephen D. Williams  Senior Consultant/Architect
43392 Wayside Cir,Ashburn,VA 20147-4622 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax  Jan2000

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