60 US deans, CEOs write to Donald Trump to ease H-1B curbs
The letter said the US doesn't have the capacity to train enough people with required high-tech skills, and without a change in approach, this would hinder growth. In 2019, the US saw a 13.7% decline in international business school applications.
A group of more than 60 US business school deans and CEOs have written an open letter to Trump and other leaders, saying the country does not have the high-skill talent it needs and the drop in student admissions over the past three years is acting as a deterrent to get qualified immigrants into the US. The letter, spearheaded by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), said the US does not have the capacity to train enough people with the required high-tech skills, and without a change in approach, this would hinder economic growth.
“The fact that our economy has created an estimated three million open STEM jobs is a positive. It speaks to the vibrancy and opportunities available in a healthy, growing economy. Yet the fact that those jobs are unfilled — and that the US is not producing enough people with the skills to fill them — is not just a negative, it’s a crisis. We are needlessly capping our growth and can do better.”
The letter was published in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
The GMAC, which also published a white paper, ‘Early Warning Signals Winners and Losers in the Global Race for Talent’, highlighted the imbalance between applicants for the H-1B visa and the available visas.
“Following the expiration in 2004 of the 195,000 cap, the number of H-1B visas now annually available has diminished to an adjusted cap of 85,000. Issued on a firstcome, first-served basis, every year the demand for H-1B visas outweighs the supply. For instance, in 2019 190,098 H-1B petitions were filed for 85,000 visas.”
The letter has suggested removing country caps and reforming the H-1B visa programme, and creating a ‘heartland’ visa that would encourage immigration to regions within the US that could most use these people. Deans from the business schools of Stanford, Duke, Yale and Columbia, as well as CEOs of companies such as Barings and Ingersoll Rand are signatories to the letter.
Shivendra Singh, vice-president, global trade development at industry body Nasscom, said the skills gap in the US was key. “With almost zero unemployment, short-term, high-skill visas play a critical role in bridging that gap. Even as companies are investing in reskilling initiatives, those will take time and, meanwhile, you need highly skilled people in order to maintain your competitive edge globally,” he said.
The white paper said percentage of Indians sending their scores from GMAT exam to US business schools fell to 45% in 2018 from 57% in testing year 2014. In 2019, the US saw a 13.7% decline in international business school applications, even as Canada and Europe recorded an increase. According to the Open Doors 2018 report, the growth pace in the number of Indian students studying in US has slowed, at 5.4% in 2018 over 12.3% the previous year.
“We feel it is critical we share this information now with policy makers as talent will be the most important factor in determining who wins and loses economically in the future,” said Bill Boulding, chair of GMAC Board and dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.