Americans favor immigration reform to fill IT jobs, survey says

July 18, 2014

It's been a long, slow process for the American economy to add more jobs and ease the burden of a long period of high employment. But even though job availability is limited and Americans need every opening they can get, people are still amenable to inviting highly skilled immigrants into the United States to compete for jobs – IT jobs in particular.

A TechNet study conducted by Zogby Analytics found that 64 percent of American voters believe the country is facing a shortage of highly skilled workers, and 63 percent believe immigration policy should encourage those workers to stay in the country.

"This survey clearly shows that Americans know that technology and innovation is central to our economic growth and job creation," TechNet president Rey Ramsey said. "Americans strongly support smart policies to reform our high skilled immigration system and address the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills."

In addition to encouraging skilled workers to stay, respondents to the Zogby poll expressed concern that Americans were lagging behind the rest of the world in technological education and skill. Of those polled, 43 percent said the next major technological invention would come from China, while only 30 percent expected it to come from the U.S. In order to close this gap, people are in favor of better education in the States – 77 percent of Americans want to see more funding for STEM education.

Now is a good time for Americans to seek better talent to fill open jobs, as the labor market is looking slightly better in 2013 than it did in years past. The Department of Labor reported that the economy added 236,000 new jobs in February, according to the New York Times – the unemployment rate is at 7.7 percent, its lowest point in more than four years.

The Zogby study found that while Americans are on the whole very happy with the technology industry (88 percent approval), they don't believe their federal government is doing enough to keep the country globally competitive in technology. Of the likely voters polled, only 39 percent said the government was doing enough, while 50.3 percent said they wanted to see more.

There are plenty of IT jobs out there for the taking, but Americans might not have the necessary skills to take them. The rest of the world might need to lend the U.S. a helping hand.