Major U.S. manufacturing companies such as Caterpillar and Cummins are struggling to recruit and employ researchers and engineers to stay competitive in the global market. With immigration reform as a top priority for the Obama administration, companies from the heartland to Silicon Valley are seeking an increase in H1-B visas, according to the Financial Times.
For the last 30 years, manufacturing jobs have been sent overseas. Offshoring, or outsourcing, is often practiced to take advantage of the low cost of labor in foreign countries. According to Forbes, this commonality has destroyed U.S. jobs, the ability to innovate and the competitive nature of the United States. The industry has changed dramatically over the past few years, which is why it is becoming increasingly important for manufacturing companies to have the same immigration reform benefits as the STEM sector.
“We expect to hire thousands of engineers over the next five to 10 years and it’s quite possible that many of them will be born outside the US,” Lorrie Meyer, executive director of global talent management at Cummins, told the Financial Times. “So to have the flexibility for us to be able to employ them here would really let us plan and get rid of some of the uncertainty that we face today.”
For a business to grow at a global scale, it is important to hire individuals from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Meyer told the Times that Cummins seeks to employ the best candidates for the job, whether they are born in or outside of the United States.
Unfortunately, some manufacturing companies have been forced to let skilled employees go because of the wait time for green cards. Caterpillar has employees from India and China who have been waiting more than eight years for papers to process for green cards.