TechServe in DC: The Demand for Talent and Changes to the H-1B Visa Program

Many of you are aware that the H-1B visa program has come under scrutiny by our lawmakers.

The proposed legislative changes could affect the way recruiting professionals work with candidates and clients. This was unsettling to me and my team at Objective Paradigm so, I headed to Washington DC.

This spring I met up with an IT staffing trade association called TechServe to convince our legislative representatives to not make any changes to the H-1B visa program that would adversely affect our ability to connect talented IT professionals with companies that desperately need their skills to complete projects.

Why?

There is a significant gap in the demand for people with IT skills and the number of available people to meet that demand. We see this most clearly illustrated in the number of open IT positions compared to the number that are filled in a period of time.

Our goal is to make sure that legislators know that in order for our US based clients to continue to innovate and develop new digital products and services, they need talent.

If proposed restrictions on the program move forward we will see a reduced number of available, qualified individuals that meet the needs of companies in the US and even more projects being filled overseas.

One of the major concerns that lawmakers have is that the H-1B program is being abused to replace US citizens with H-1B workers at lower wages. In some instances, this is a valid concern and firms that are abusing the program need to be dealt with. But, overwhelmingly we are able to attract and keep talented workers to fill the gaps where we simply aren’t educating and producing enough people with the skills to meet the demand of these companies.  

Based on our practical experience, our clients all realize that utilizing contract staffing services will cost them more than hiring someone on staff. They are willing and able to spend more to have the people now and especially when they only need people with specialized skills for a shorter period of time. Some projects are only 3 or 6 months and it isn’t feasible to hire and terminate employees at those kinds of intervals. We see the availability of H-1B talent as critical for firms to be able to complete IT initiatives and be competitive in a global market.   

We’re doing our part and we’re urging Congress to do more.

Another solution discussed was how to shrink the talent gap by urging Congress to support legislation and fund programs that encourage K-12 students to study and pursue STEM careers in the US. Here at Objective Paradigm, and in our own backyard of Chicago, we have found our ability to support high school STEM education with our charity, T4Youth.

T4Youth is a charity ping pong tournament that we host every year to support the ChiTech Academy. In just 3 years, we’ve raised over $200,000 to further STEM education for under-served students with an interest in technology. If we develop better education and training capabilities, we wouldn’t need to augment our workforce with H-1B visas. But until we’re able to catch up with demand, we’ll continue to need H-1B workers.

Lastly, while not a federal issue, many states are implementing legislation that bars employers and staffing firms from inquiring about a candidate’s current or historical salary information.

Managing Partner at OP, Evan Pollock, shares his thoughts in the OP blog: Compensation Regulations.

While the intention of reducing and eliminating the gender wage gap is one we all can admire, we’re deeply concerned with how this will be implemented and enforced. We’re already seeing changes adopted by our clients in New York City.

As a point of clarity, we are incentivized by our fee models in both direct-hire placement and staffing to secure high rates for our candidates. In 2016, we raised the compensation of the candidates we placed by over $3,000,000 by negotiating higher rates and salaries on their behalf. However, this law will cause disruption and changes in the way we’re able to communicate with candidates and clients.

To get through all of these changes, we’re going to focus on our core beliefs and values.

  • As it relates to the H-1B visa program, we will advocate for legislation that allows for the most access to technical talent. Our companies are stronger when they can innovate and develop leading companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. We don’t want critical initiatives to be sent offshore for development for fear there won’t be an available talent supply here in the US.
  • We will also continue to support initiatives that encourage our youth to develop interest and skills in technical disciplines. Our position in the global marketplace depends on our ability to develop and educate people with technical skills.
  • We will continue to foster open and collaborative relationships with our candidates. We must provide real value to the candidates we work with. We’ll do this by representing the most sought after clients and by negotiating rates and salaries that raise the income for the candidates we place.

Outside of Dick Durbin’s office (US Senator – IL) along with representatives from TechServe Alliance and the Senator’s office.

Jeff Messacar from On Target IT, Inc. Congressman Randy Hultgren from the 14th District of IL, and Kevin Krumm, CEO – Objective Paradigm. 

While there are many things that could change in how we work over the next year, our commitment to connecting the most technically skilled people with highly sought employment opportunities is unyielding.


Kevin Krumm, CEO at Objective Paradigm, has more than 15 years of experience in IT recruiting, consulting and business development. Krumm’s experience includes working with clients in tech startups, financial markets, trading firms, consulting and software development. His passion lies with identifying talented people capable of disrupting industries by leveraging technology and creativity.