By: Khalil AlHajal | MLive Detroit
DETROIT, MI — The company that took the phrase “Outsource to Detroit” and literally hung it over the city from a downtown high-rise is hoping a potential influx of skilled immigrants can fill a major talent gap over the next few years.
Gov. Rick Snyder last week announced plans to ask the federal government to grant 50,000 visas over five years for immigrants with advanced degrees who would move to Detroit.
And GalaxE Solutions CEO Tim Bryan is cheering on the idea, saying immigration should be a key part of a number of efforts to fill high-tech positions and make Detroit a leader in innovation.
“We have a lot of individuals in our international offices that would be very interested in coming and living and working in Detroit,” Bryan said. “… And that means making their homes here, paying taxes here and supporting the local economy and continuing the growth of Detroit as an IT hub.”
Bryan’s software firm brought 150 jobs to Detroit in 2010 and has since been working to hire another 500 information technology specialists to occupy its Woodward Avenue offices.
GalaxE moved a top executive from India to Detroit in July, citing customer demand for better service and closer collaboration.
“Proximity of our work force to our customers drives and supports quality,” Bryan said. “… We believe that is part of a trend that would be supported if our governor’s request was enacted.”
But why can’t Americans fills those jobs are being lured back home?
Bryan said years of outsourcing changed the type of expertise that was in demand and being taught domestically.
“What’s happened over the last say five years or so is that there has been a re-emphasis on quality,” he said. “This trend to outsourcing has slowed, if not reversed… You had something of a disconnect between what the business needs are and what the colleges and universities have been teaching.”
Colleges are now adjusting in Michigan amid a number of efforts to connect with businesses and assess demand, but there remains a wide, immediate gap.
“The need for skilled technical workers is so great that no single tool is going to satisfy it,” Bryan said. “Immigration is going to be part of the solution. Education is going to be part of the solution. Continued tech innovation is going to be part of the solution. And all of them have to be pursued aggressively for the United States to remain a leader in technology.”
Snyder’s proposal is to request 5,000 visas for immigrants with advanced degrees or exceptional skills in the first year, 10,000 in the second, third and fourth years and another 15,000 in the fifth.
Bryan believes jobs would be here for them, and more jobs could be created by them in the future.
“There is a tremendous demand for skilled workers,” he said. “It’s in all of our interest to have the skilled workers living and collaborating and innovating inside the United States.
Bryan is himself the son of a immigrant. His Czech father came to the U.S. the 1950s.
“I believe that this country prospers when people come from other countries to work here,” he said. “Immigrants should be welcomed into this country when they come here to make a living and pay taxes… Our immigration rules need to be revised both on the practical level, based on the fact that we need certain skill sets for our economy to remain competitive, but also the fact that our country was built on the backs of immigrants…
“I would like to see the rules change to accommodate our need for high-skilled technology workers. And if it benefits city’s that are trying to rebuild, like Detroit, all the better.”