Skilled labor visa program hits application cap

For executives in the manufacturing industry, the U.S. visa program for skilled workers can be a valuable asset to staffing factories. For those workers, it can represent a path to citizenship or relocation. Nevertheless, employing recent immigrants and visitors to the U.S. is a controversial tactic that some critics liken to abetting outsourcing. 

"Critics, however, maintain that the program enables companies to recruit cheaper employees across the globe at the expense of American workers," explains Andy Szal of Manufacturing.net. Opponents also charged that it promotes outsourcing by allowing foreign companies to send workers to the U.S. to acquire skills."

It remains a popular program, however: Just five days after applications for the next fiscal year opened up, the agency received 65,000. This figure is the cap for employees seeking skilled labor visas. Proponents of the program say that because demonstrated interest is so high, the cap should be raised to accommodate more employees. 

Skilled worker visas is just one of many ways that manufacturing companies aim to close the skilled labor gap in the American workforce. Some experts estimate that over the next decade, the number of unfilled positions versus available workers will tally in the millions. 

A middle way between the criticism and praise for the skilled worker visa program is to prioritize American workers during the hiring process. Making their best efforts to recruit citizens through job fairs, online listings and other marketing strategies can ensure that businesses support the U.S. job market while keeping their options open in terms of staffing. Nevertheless, the challenge requires some creativity on the part of executives and business leaders to fill their factory floors with qualified professionals.