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IBM defends use of temp visa workers

Patrick Thibodeau | May 25, 2015
IBM says the growth in technologies such as cloud, analytics, mobile and security is "exacerbating the skills shortage" in the tech industry, and underscores the need for temporary foreign tech workers.

"We know that IBM is using the H-1B program to bring in workers who are being paid a lot less than the average wage," said Hira. "IBM is certainly not paying its H-1B workers as though they have specialized skills."

IBM cut its U.S. workforce as it grew India-based operations, but accurate numbers are difficult to get. IBM stop disclosing the size of the U.S. workforce in 2010, and its last officially reported headcount was about 105,000. The Alliance estimates IBM's headcount today at about 76,000.

The firm continues to have layoffs, almost annually, but said in its letter to Grassley that it plans to hire 10,000 in the U.S. this year alone.

The letter to Grassley offers "a lot of generalizations with no evidence, no specifics," such as a skills shortage, said Hal Salzman, a Rutgers University professor who studies STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workforce issues. IBM is "entitled to keep data confidential but I would argue they are not entitled to ask for public benefits, government intervention into the market without providing some evidence for these claims."


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