Guest post by David Swartz
I believe that America’s technological dominance is threatened by policy that limits our access to the best talent from around the globe. Even more so given the fact that we now face a shortage of top tier engineering and software development talent.
I am the co-founder of MEDL Mobile, a custom software development shop located in Southern California that proudly employs a team of 25, among them two H1B employees. I can say with absolute certainly that the two H1B employees contribute significantly to the stability, reputation and quality of our development work - and our company may not be in the position it is in today without them.
My company builds software, primarily mobile applications, on behalf of other companies. Since 2008, we have helped fuel the mobile revolution and have worked with great companies and brands that range from The New York Times, Taco Bell and Kaiser Permanente to Disney, Marlee Matlin and Universal Pictures.
We’ve also helped many innovative start ups build their mobile businesses - across the areas of social media, mhealth and the newly emerging Internet of Things and connected devices.
The sheer breadth of our workflow requires that we maintain a solid bench of experienced engineers, capable of working on a wide variety of technologies and platforms. It is not uncommon for an engineer at MEDL to work on an audio encryption algorithm one day - and a geo-based video game the next. And because our whole industry is only 10 years old, we need people who can learn, adapt and grow.
As such, it can be very difficult for our company to identify employees with a solid engineering foundation and the ability to embrace new technology as it evolves.
I always prefer to hire local talent. We take pride that all of the technology we build is created here under our roof with people who work together. If people with these sets of skills were readily available, we would find them and hire them.
But even with a broad network of professional recruiters, the fact is that they are hard to find, recruit and retain - all at a salary that allows us to be competitive with pricing for our own customers.
The H1B program has allowed us to add two highly talented, deeply appreciative members to our team - and in turn they have helped us continue to create American-made technology advances on behalf of our clients. Many of them patent-pending; patents that will be held by American companies. Many of these companies have grown, and hired more people, creating more American jobs. All because we got to augment our team with great talent from other countries.
If we were to lose access to these employees, it would be uniquely our loss as this powerful workforce would not cease to exist. These people are intelligent, highly employable and resourceful. They are, in fact, a lot like our own ancestors who sought a better life, and were willing to work hard to make it happen. Without the option to contribute to the American Dream, they would simply become a resource to whoever replaces the U.S. as the new “it-place” for technology to emerge.
I hope that this perspective can help to color the discussion which is far more complex than the black and white issue that is currently being portrayed.