Monday, April 09, 2007

Shortage of High-Quality Workers in India

From the Boston Globe (via Cafe Hayek), an article "India High-tech Industry Out of Workers:"

Nearly two decades into India's phenomenal growth as an international center for high technology, the industry has a problem: It's running out of workers.

The problem is not a shortage of people," said Mohandas Pai, human resources chief for Infosys Technologies, the software giant that built and runs the Mysore campus for its new employees. "It's a shortage of trained people."

In 2000, there were maybe 50,000 IT jobs and 500,000 applicants. Now there are perhaps 180,000 annual openings, but only between 100,000 and 200,000 qualified candidates.

Much of the problem is rooted in a deeply flawed school system. As India's economy blossomed over 15 years, spawning a middle class desperate to push their children further up the economic ladder, the higher education system grew dramatically. The number of engineering colleges, for instance, has nearly tripled.

But the problems have simply grown worse. India has technical institutes that seldom have electricity, and colleges with no computers. There are universities where professors seldom show up. Textbooks can be decades old.

Instruction is by rote learning, and only test scores count. "Everything else is forgotten: the capacity to think, to write, to be logical, to get along with people," Pai said. The result is smart, well-educated people who can have trouble with such professional basics as working on a team or good phone manners.

Not to worry, it looks like the U.S. government will help out by continuing to restrict the competition for India's workers. From today's IBD:

This year, as in the past, 65,000 of these H-1B visas are available. Last Monday, the first day on which applications were accepted for 2007, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received more than 150,000 petitions from companies needing them to hire scientists, engineers, architects, computer programmers and other highly trained employees. It's clear that a lot of skilled workers wishing to live and work here are out of luck.

The U.S. is again showing how well it can seal the border against skilled, law-abiding workers who are crucial to its economic future.


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