There is some support among employers to increase the cap on H-1B visas, allowing more foreign workers to be temporarily employed in the U.S., yet the majority remains opposed to issuing more of the visas.

Twenty-seven percent of employers support raising the cap on H-1B visas, with more than half of these employers expressing concerns over a widening talent gap. The majority, 73%, of employers oppose issuing more H-1B visas, citing the need to focus on training American-born workers instead of importing workers from other countries.

Also see: Obama’s Executive Order on immigration: What employers need to know

Among the challenges employers have faced due to extended job vacancies – positions that have been vacant for 12 weeks or longer – are loss of revenue (34%), lower quality of work due to employees being overworked (36%), declines in customer service (35%) and work simply not getting done (48%), according to new research from CareerBuilder.

And job vacancies are hurting employers’ bottom line, with 36% reporting job openings lasting 12 weeks or more and costing, on average, close to $14,000 per job that stays open for that length of time; one in six report losses of $25,000 or more.

Twenty-six percent of employers have or expect to hire employees with H-1B visas this year, enabling foreign employees to temporarily fill some of the more highly specialized occupations. However, 13% point to visa caps as a roadblock, due to the volume of companies applying for them.

Among occupations for which employers are recruiting workers with H-1B visas this year are:

  • Software engineers – 19%
  • Systems analysts and programmers – 11%
  • Database administrators – 9%
  • Network administrators – 9%
  • Sales and distribution managers – 9%

Among those who’d like to see the H-1B visa cap raised, 54% cited the skills shortage in the U.S. as a primary reason, followed by a desire to boost progress in science, technology and math industries. On the flip side, the 73% who oppose the increase point to focusing on re-skilling the American workforce and fear companies will outsource talent abroad after training them here, resulting in the offshoring of more jobs.
Also see: Revamped immigration system could help employers in war for talent

“There’s continued debate around whether we should be importing workers to fill high-skill jobs or investing in educating the labor pool that already exists on our shores,” says Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, who believes the answer is both.

“We need to close the information gap in the U.S. and educate workers on which skill sets are in high demand, so they can pursue those career paths. We need to provide affordable academic resources and training for them to do so,” he says. “At the same time, we need to make sure we’re bringing in experts from other countries to work side by side with our experts in the U.S., so we can continue to innovate and grow the U.S. economy.”

The survey of over 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder.

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