As we know, there’s a lot of hype surrounding STEM learning in our country: the STEM crisis, women in STEM, innovations in STEM learning, STEM on YouTube, the shift from STEM to STEAM. Now, Microsoft appears to be the latest company attempting to solve the problem, acknowledging the fact that our country’s students having fallen behind in science, technology, engineering, and math has created a huge gap in the workforce.
Yesterday Microsoft unveiled a proposal to Congress to increase the number of applicants qualified to fill jobs requiring STEM skill sets. The plan would increase the number of visas for high-skilled foreign workers and invest millions in federal funding for STEM education.
It’s no secret that the U.S. is far behind other first world countries in the number of STEM-educated college graduates. Microsoft has proposed that Congress increase the number of H1B visas to 20,000 so that highly skilled foreign workers can fill the positions for jobs requiring STEM skill sets. Employers would have to pay $10-15,000 for each employee’s visa. These higher fees should raise an estimated $500 million annually, which Microsoft will push Congress to use to fund and improve STEM education.
Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president Brad Smith is “optimistic Congress will take up the proposal next year.” According to Smith, “The skill gap is one of the biggest problems Microsoft faces.”