From my first-hand experience, IT departments and software firms are desperate for home-grown IT talent. It may not be fair, but my headhunting friend has specifically been told that H1Bs are not desired by hiring managers. The usual reason given is the obvious paperwork costs to sponsor a visa. However, the truth is that many managers have experienced difficulties working with H1Bs, and especially with offshoring.
There are cultural, communication and time zone differences that can make a managers job much more difficult. These managers would honestly prefer in the case of H1Bs to instead have someone with fluent communication skills. In the case of offshoring, being in the same time zone and having the ability to have face to face communication trumps the promised cost savings.
Certainly, there are good cases for H1Bs and offshoring, but it depends on factors like the type of project and the skill set of management. And the purpose of H1Bs is to fill gaps in local markets, which wouldnt be there if more people enrolled in computer-related degrees. I expect the qualifying cases to become less frequent, thus increasing opportunities for local talent assuming there is local talent available.
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And even if the offshoring trend reemerges with common programming jobs going overseas, these emerging markets will only shift opportunities. To further reduce your risk and take advantage of coming needs, Id recommend complimenting your programming skills.
Here are eight ways to expand your horizons and reduce your IT career risk.
1.) Learn a specific business skill, like accounting, supply chain, marketing or human resources. 2.) Become an expert in a compliance standard like HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley. 3.) Get a graduate degree to expand your horizon, such as a law degree focusing on intellectual property. 4.) Focus on becoming an IT architect, so that you are designing scalable, secure enterprise- class application delivery architectures. 5.) Become an expert in an industry like finance, oil or health care. 6.) Improve your writing skills. Good technical writers are always hard to come by. 7.) Jump into management. There wont likely be a shortage of people needed to manage local or offshore resources. 8.) Dive deep into a specialization like security or networking and become an expert on topics like encryptions, intrusion protection and authentication.
There likely will be pure software developer opportunities for many decades to come, however, its just good risk management to expand your horizons and make yourself more valuable.
In short, dont be afraid to embrace IT as your career or recommend it to someone else. There will be plenty of room for techies all over the globe to prosper over the next 50 years. Maybe there will be some massive shift in technology in the far future, but for now, I truly believe you cannot lose with a career in IT. Bet on it!