Background

business-discussions-2males-laptop-2

The immigration issue most affecting McAfee and the rest of the technology industry is the U.S. H-1B visa program. The H-1B program allows companies in the U.S. to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering, and information technology. Congress specifies a fixed number of H-1Bs per year, and that number is known as the H-1B cap. For 2018, the cap is 65,000, with an exemption of 20,000 for those with master’s degrees.

Over the years, the U.S. technology industry has strongly supported increasing the cap on H-1Bs to help address the overall IT skills gap. The shortage of skilled IT workers has been well documented, and it is only increasing. For instance, there are currently more than 500,000 open computing jobs across the country, but only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce, according to Code.org. In cybersecurity, the shortage of skilled workers is projected to reach 1.8 million by 2022, according to the most recent Global Information Security Workforce Study. Thus, while it wasn’t always the case, the tech workforce shortage has become a driver of increasing the number of H-1Bs available.

Importance to McAfee

McAfee depends on employees who are highly skilled in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to generate innovative products and serve our customers’ growing security needs. Our first choice is always to hire well-qualified U.S. workers. However, in unique situations when we are unable to hire qualified American talent, we use the H-1B program to meet our employment needs. That’s why we support the industry position calling for a market-based approach that lets employers decide what kind of workers they need.

Policy recommendations

  • To solve the most complex security challenges that organizations face today, industry, government, and academia must work to substantially increase the number of cybersecurity professionals in the workforce. To help achieve this goal, McAfee supports the H-1B visa program to supplement our hiring of highly skilled, innovative employees in the U.S.
  • A long-term, comprehensive approach to solving the workforce shortage should focus on eliminating barriers to entering the field and increasing educational opportunities to ensure that talented people from diverse backgrounds have the opportunity to fill the growing IT and cybersecurity talent deficit.

    • The reality of the global marketplace means competition for talent is global as well. Therefore, we need effective immigration reforms that will make it easier for the world’s best talent to work in the U.S. alongside the innovators, entrepreneurs, and talented individuals in our domestic workforce. 
  • We agree with the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), which advocates for high-skilled immigration reform that supplements and augments our extraordinarily talented U.S. workforce to strengthen U.S. business operations now and in the future. We also agree that high-skilled immigration reform must invest in effective U.S. education and training programs that will prepare future innovators and entrepreneurs to advance our nation’s global leadership and success.
  • Government, industry, and academia must work together to fill the cybersecurity talent gap. McAfee supports the existing CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, a grant program managed by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

    • Given the size and scale of the cyber skills deficit, policymakers should significantly increase the size of the program, possibly something in the range of $180 million. At this level of funding, the program could support roughly 6,400 scholarships.
    • We also recommend expanding the SFS or creating a similar program aimed at the community college level. Community colleges tend to attract a variety of students, including returning veterans and other adult students who might have pursued other careers or might even be working full- or part-time. The community college option could also further ethnic and racial diversity in a cyber program—something that is badly needed in the field.
  • Additional investment in exposing grade school and middle school students, especially girls, to STEM is greatly needed. Employment in STEM jobs is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics cited by the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C.