Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook Discuss STEM Funding, Immigration Reform - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing

Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook Discuss STEM Funding, Immigration Reform

During the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation panel in Philadelphia, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft representatives issued another call to action for increased STEM funding and for revisions to the nation's immigration policy.

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Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook Wednesday challenged the next White House administration to increase STEM education funding and reform immigration policy during an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation panel in Philadelphia as part of a Democratic National Convention public policy forum.

Representatives from the tech companies expressed the challenges faced in finding enough qualified IT professionals and how it sets the nation up for losing its stature as a technology leader, according to a CNET report.

"This is no longer a Microsoft, Facebook or Amazon issue," Microsoft's chief legal officer Brad Smith is quoted in CNET. "Companies are only as good as the people we hire."

(Image: nongpimmy/iStockphoto)

(Image: nongpimmy/iStockphoto)

The three tech giants are no strangers to advocating for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education funding. The companies, along with other industry behemoths including IBM, Google, Twitter, and Dropbox are members of the Computer Science Education Coalition, which formed earlier this year and called on Congress to invest $250 million in K-12 computer science education.

The coalition has put in a lot of effort. In April, it helped organize a private donation of $48 million from a number of its members to improve access to computer science. Earlier this month, Facebook stepped in with a $15 million pledge to, which will use it to increase diversity in K-12 computer science classes, according to a GeekWire report.

There are over 600,000 computing jobs that are currently unfilled, yet the nation's universities only graduate 43,000 computer science students each year, according to the coalition. In order to establish a healthy pipeline of potential IT college graduates, the coalition says it wants lawmakers to approve funding.

[See 8 Biggest H-1B Employers in 2015.]

At the start of the year, President Obama announced his Computer Science for All initiative, in which the White House calls for:

  • Providing $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million directly for districts in his forthcoming Budget to increase access to K-12 CS by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships.
  • Starting the effort this year, with more than $135 million in investments by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support and train CS teachers, who are the most critical ingredient to offering CS education in schools. The agencies will make these investments over five years using existing funds.
  • Calling on even more Governors, Mayors, education leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, creative media and technology professionals, and others to get involved.

In a move also meant to address a shortage in IT professionals, the companies speaking on the industry panel also pointed to the need for immigration reform to bring in more skilled workers from other countries.

The panelists, according to CNET, challenged lawmakers to allow foreigners who come to the US to get their college education to have the ability to remain in the country after they receive their degrees.

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
8/11/2016 | 11:06:39 AM
Re: Re-Train US Tech Workers
I totally agree with this comment.  Tech companies know what their skill level requirements are and need to be more involved in the education system to ensure the proper skills are being taught.  Increased involvement in STEM programs is a must.  The only involvement needed by government is to ensure tax breaks for all corporations investing in the skilled labor needed to run their businesses.  It used to be that companies investing in education for the skills desired, also had a higher employee retention rate.  More H1B visas are not the answer. In house training of existing skilled labor will give more ROI than hiring and retraining new employees.  There is a large, skilled labor pool already ready and willing to work.  Use them...
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2016 | 5:44:27 PM
Sold Out!
Check out Michelle Malkin and John Miano's book - Sold Out - a review of the tech industry push to hire foreign tech workers, loaded with stats and facts.   

I also have to wonder why this Tech Panel met at the DNC for a meeting on the next Administration?  Did they host the same meeting at the RNC?  Or they hedging their bets that they can only work with the Dems to committ to their plans to hire more foreign tech workers. 
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2016 | 5:20:50 PM
Re-Train US Tech Workers
So, I have to wonder ... out of the over '600,000 computing jobs that are currently unfilled', that the big tech companies claim they need, how many tech workers who are out of work have they RETRAINED to the newer technologies.  Seasoned tech workers who are skilled, experience, but have deadended on software and applications that are no longer popular; these tech workers are ready, willing and eager to learn new skills but would be required to take on expensive private software classes or return to universities for the newest skill sets.  

??When will these big tech companies see that they have a skilled labor force right under their noses, if they would just take the time and funding to retrain them to the newest toys?? Perhaps US government would grant them tax breaks for each employee retrained.
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2016 | 7:15:38 AM
While complaining they are short of talent they all kick thousands of employees to the curb while spending millions on boni for managers. What Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook really mean is that they want the government to pay for all the training expenses, provide tax breaks, and allow low wage workers in so that the manager boni can grow even larger.

I'm fine if the government provides over 4 billion in funding, but then the screaming conpanies should match that without strings attached.
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