Silicon Valley Stalls Hiring of Foreign Tech Workers

foreign tech workers

This post was originally published on Financial Times.

Silicon Valley has been worried since Mr Trump’s election that he could restrict highly skilled workers.

Silicon Valley companies have stalled their foreign hiring, fearing President Donald Trump could restrict immigration and make it more difficult for them to employ immigrants.

Employers’ requests to interview foreign candidates fell 46 per cent year on year in the first quarter and 37 per cent in the second quarter, according to data collected from more than 10,000 companies on the technology recruitment platform Hired.

Foreign workers were also more reluctant to apply to US tech companies, with a 4 per cent fall in the rate that they accepted interview requests from the third quarter of last year to the fourth quarter, when Mr Trump was elected.

Hired allows employers to request to interview candidates from a database, rather than the other way round.

Mehul Patel, chief executive of Hired, said employers were in “limbo”, with concerns about Mr Trump reducing the number of immigrants who can move to the US exacerbating an existing talent shortage in the tech industry.

“The uncertainty leads to a little bit of paralysis,” Mr Patel said.

Hired saw a similar effect on tech applications after the UK voted to leave the EU. Then, the proportion of British tech companies making offers to foreign candidates declined by almost 30 per cent.

Silicon Valley has been worried since Mr Trump’s election that he could restrict highly skilled immigration. The US tech industry had been lobbying for changes to the H-1B visa to allow them to bring in more foreign workers but Mr Trump criticised the visa on the campaign trail as taking away opportunities from US citizens.

Last week, the president backed a plan to cut in half annual admissions to the US. The proposal would prioritise education and skills rather than family ties, and so may not hit the tech industry hard as it seeks highly skilled employees such as software engineers.

Mr Patel said large tech companies with buoyant valuations and start-ups benefiting from a boost in venture capital cash were all increasing their hiring. The shortage of workers was clear, he said, as each company had more jobs available and was making more requests to candidates per jobs, anticipating a competitive market.

Tech companies might have to boost salaries further, look for freelance consultants or recruit even more in places outside the San Francisco Bay Area to get the talent they need, he said.

In a survey of more than 300 tech workers, Hired found that 40 per cent had considered relocating to another country or region since the US election. Almost a third cited Canada as their preferred destination, followed by Germany, Asia and Australia. About 43 per cent of respondents said Brexit had made the UK a less desirable place to live.

This post was originally published on Financial Times.