For several years now the United States has witnessed an unprecedented boom in the size and complexity of the technology sector. The rise has been so sharp that at one point the five largest tech companies here accounted for 37% of the growth in the S&P 500 stock index. These results have kept the overall economy humming along, even in the face of worsening global economic indicators.
There is one thing, however, that threatens to take the wind out of the US tech industry's sails (and no, it isn't the threat of Congressional oversight). It's the fact that the industry is creating new jobs much faster than the educational sector can provide new, high-skilled workers. The demand for labor is so high, that the US Department of Labor expects the industry to require about 557,100 additional workers by 2026, which represents growth well over the average for other economic sectors. Here's a look at what's going on, and what one immigration SaaS firm is doing to try and fill the industry's needs.
Solving a Key Labor Hurdle
PassRight is an immigration-focused SaaS firm that offers a variety of solutions for both companies and experts that need to navigate through the often-labyrinthine US immigration system. Their automated screening tool for talents who can qualify for the O-1 visa is exceptionally accurate and so far has been able to correctly gauge candidates who could qualify for the process. The correct analysis of a candidate is extremely important as the qualified talents need to meet the US government’s criteria for extraordinary abilities. A few of the criteria they need to meet include- industry recognition, top leadership roles at previous organizations and awards. Although PassRight has a system in place to find the right candidates, sadly the majority of the best candidates come from developing nations like India and Pakistan and eastern Europe and have little or no money to go through the whole visa process all over again.
This is just where PassRight aims to change the equation. In association with the Global Talent Fund, the firm now offers a program that they call an income sharing agreement (ISA). In short, the program provides financing for would-be O-1 applicants to cover all of the costs associated with a move to the US. That means funds for the application itself, as well as to secure housing, transportation, and personal needs. In exchange, the applicant agrees to a 24-month repayment plan that's dependent on their future salary.
Disrupting the Status Quo
PassRight program differs from others in the tech immigration industry. Their goal is to bring top-tier tech talents to US businesses that so desperately need them by making a real investment in the individuals that have the right skills. Although there's a profit motive, the program depends on the success of the people that use it. For that reason, repayment schedules require candidates to pay 17% of their salary for a period of 24 months, until they reach a cap of USD 30,000 or whichever is lower. If they lose their job, the repayments stop until they find another tech firm to bring them on.
The program's structure should open up access to the O-1 visa program to applicants from a much wider range of places where there are existing talent reservoirs yet to be tapped by the US tech sector. By eliminating the financial barriers that would have otherwise made relocations impossible for so many, PassRight may end up creating a thriving pipeline of tech talent that can help quench the demand here in the US. If they succeed, they may help stave off a day of reckoning for an industry that has so far defied every obstacle placed before it.
Relief is in Sight
For the US tech industry, anything that helps relieve the pressure of the current labor market would be welcome. Already, industry analysts are predicting a decline in growth for the sector that should worsen with each passing year – and a dearth of skilled labor is to blame. Of course, the efforts of a single company helping skilled foreigners to find their way into the waiting arms of US tech firms may not be enough to prevent further slowdowns, but it does provide an example for others to follow. For that reason, it wouldn't be surprising to see others in the immigration field or even the US tech firms themselves looking to emulate the PassRight model to increase the flow of foreign workers into the country. Together, they could finally solve the problems of the labor-starved US tech sector, which would be a great outcome for all involved.
Photo credits via contributor's Adobe Stock license by metamorworks, Viacheslav Iakobchuk, and PassRight website.