You may recall that a few years ago, Microsoft established a software development center in Vancouver, Canada, saying it was forced to do so because of a shortage of H-1B work visas in the U.S. Well, now Microsoft has gotten the Canadian government to exempt them from a requirement that a firm may hire foreign workers only if it demonstrates insufficient numbers of qualified Canadians are available for the jobs. (The American H-1B visa does not have this requirement for general employers.)
I reported on the Vancouver center back in May, when I pointed out that there was a glaring contradiction that no one seems to have noticed: According to the BusinessWeek article, “There, Microsoft will hire and train 400 software developers from around the world to work on mobile and cloud projects.” Did you catch that? “…hire and TRAIN”! Remember, the whole rationale for hiring the foreign workers — claimed by U.S. employers and codified in Canadian law — is that the employers resort to hiring foreign workers because there are insufficient domestic workers who have the specialized skills for the jobs. Yet Microsoft is TRAINING the foreign workers in these skills.
Yet no one seemed at the time to notice this “emperor has no clothes” situation back in May, just as no one quoted in the current article seems to fully realize this.
It’s a safe bet that the Vancouver move makes for great lobbying points on the Hill. There’s nothing politicians fear more in the economics realm than the rallying cry, “Jobs are moving overseas!” (The fact that in this case we’re talking only about a 3-hour drive up I-5 doesn’t reduce the argument’s effectiveness, I’m sure.) But what if those Hill dwellers (and their counterparts in Ottawa) knew the REAL situation in Vancouver?