In A World Of Propaganda, The Truth Is Always A Conspiracy
Students Want Tech Jobs, But Americans Need Not Apply
By Joe Guzzardi
After decades of frustration in their efforts to make major employment breakthroughs in the IT industry, black tech workers may have found a valuable ally. Nex Cubed founder and Chief Executive Officer Marlon Evans has identified tech as an industry where talented individuals affiliated with Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) might land well-paid jobs.
Nex Cubed describes itself as a global accelerator that invests in diverse founders dedicated to solving the nation’s most pressing problems. The venture firm’s website states that its goal is to provide seed capital that will empower startups and investors to develop new technologies.
Recently, Nex Cubed announced that, backed by Costco Wholesale’s $5 million financial assistance, the venture capital firm would launch the Historically Black College and University Founders Fund (HBCUFF). This $40 million accelerator will invest in startups where at least one founder is a student, alumni or faculty member of an HBCU.
Led by North Carolina A&T State University, Howard University and Spelman College, HBCUs are responsible for 25 percent of all African-American STEM graduates. With the layoffs of both directly employed and contracted tech workers, Nex Cubed sees openings for black students currently untrained, unrecruited and unemployed in their chosen field.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s data shows that big tech’s demographic mix is 68 percent white and 64 percent male, statistics that the “Stem News Chronicle” noted. A McKinsey report predicted that the gap in tech employment – the total of black IT workers compared to white – will widen over the next decade. Across all industries, technology jobs – those in data science, engineering, cybersecurity and software development – are expected to grow 14 percent by 2032, but over the same time period, the black tech workers’ percentage is expected to grow only 8 percent.
Nex Cubed understands the reason why U.S.-born tech workers struggle to get gainful employment. From its bulletin: “One of the biggest myths surrounding the [H-1B] program is that it fills labor shortages. While this was Congress’ intent for the program, the U.S. Department of Labor has botched its implementation so badly that H-1Bs are regularly used to replace U.S. workers.”
But understanding what’s going on in the tech employment market – the displacement of skilled, experienced American workers by less qualified, cheaper H-1B visa holders – and affecting a positive pro-U.S. IT employment market are two different things.
Establishing the HBCUFF and emphasizing the underutilized talent that HBCU graduates offer to tech employers are steps in the right direction. But a Net Cubed goal must be to encourage Congress to reform the H-1B visa so that American tech workers, black and white, get the first shot at filling tech jobs. Before COVID-19 and the recent layoffs, the Silicon Valley tech workforce was three-quarters foreign-born. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-authorized-to-work nonimmigrant H-1B visa holders are doing jobs that U.S. tech workers are fully qualified to fill.
Because of tech’s mass layoffs – more than 200,000 with more firings anticipated, and possible fraud charges pending against CEOs for improprieties related to the annual H-1B visa lotteries to import H-1B foreign-born contract workers – job openings should be plentiful for HBCU graduates. The CEOs who oversee many of the second- or third-tier white-collar subcontracting firms may face federal investigation. Consequently, the firms in question, many based in India, are closing up shop, and the executives are fleeing to the home country just ahead of federal prosecution.
Every stakeholder in the battle to put American workers first needs to enter the fray and lobby Congress for meaningful H-1B visa reforms that place U.S. tech workers at the top of the hiring line. The H-1B is the arch enemy of high-skilled but unemployed or underemployed young Americans. In the name of fairness, the visa must either be revised or, better yet, eliminated.
Joe Guzzardi is a Project for Immigration Reform analyst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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