How to Get Prepared for the Widening STEM Talent Gap
By the year 2025, there will be 3.5 million STEM jobs, according to the National Association of Manufacturing and Deloitte. Of that 3.5 million, as many as 2 million of those jobs may go unfilled due to the widening STEM talent gap.
“There are more STEM jobs today than there are applicants. Our country isn’t producing enough talent to fill these positions,” said Manish Mohan, Kforce Group President of International Talent Solutions.
According to Mohan, companies on the hunt for domestic STEM talent are often faced with a challenge of talent scarcity. Even when talent is found, retaining the talent for more than two years is rare.
With the demand for STEM employees growing exponentially and the U.S. continuing to face a STEM talent gap, the need to leverage highly skilled talent is higher than ever. In fact, many companies consider employing talent abroad.
Advantages of hiring international talent
The benefits of hiring international talent include:
- Meeting your workforce needs. Supplement your existing staff with flexible solutions when STEM talent is scarce.
- Expanding your network. Leverage different candidate pools to diversify your talent acquisition strategy.
- Keeping your projects on track. Prevent business delays with a supplemental workforce.
Given the low STEM unemployment rate, international talent is one of the country’s top resources, and the talent pool has never been bigger.
Since 2008, the percentage of the foreign-born workforce at Kforce has increased from 10 percent to 45 percent, with Kforce’s consultants stemming across 30 countries. That is the same kind of demographic seen across the nation with companies that are open to foreign workers.
“STEM workers are helping us innovate faster. In the current climate, everything has to do with speed. When we have projects that need innovation, we can attract the best STEM talent in the world to drive this innovation,” said Manish Mohan.
As America continues to transform from an industrial machine to a technology and service industry, more qualified professionals are needed. Yet, students currently graduating from U.S. STEM programs are unable to fill the growing talent demand. By 2020, international students will make up the majority of STEM Ph.Ds, according to The Kauffman Foundation.
The current technology employment rate is almost 100 percent with emerging skills such as artificial intelligence in demand. As this market continues to grow, firms can use international talent to help fill open positions. “Leveraging foreign talent is helping run the technology engine of this country,” added Mohan.
The path to a foreign workforce
The first step in hiring international talent is to seek certification through the Department of Labor. Once the application is certified and approved, an employer must request the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services for an H-1B visa—a temporary visa that allows employers to petition for highly educated international talent to work in specialty occupations.
Without a trusted partner to assist in the hiring process, the route to getting visa approvals for foreign workers presents the following challenges:
- There is an annual cap on visa approvals. Currently, the visa program is limited to issuing 65,000 new visas a year plus an additional 20,000 for students who graduated with advanced degrees from a U.S. college or university. An experienced international talent professional is needed to navigate through the complex federal regulations associated with visa approvals.
- Applications that are incomplete or contain errors are denied. According to a new policy, applications containing flaws are disregarded. With the confusing nature of the H-1B application process, it is easy to miss certain fields without having an international talent solutions expert to guide you.
- The duration of stay is limited. A foreign worker’s visa only lasts for three years and is extendable for up to six years. After the visa expires, the foreign worker must either leave the U.S. or obtain a different status to stay in the country, so it is imperative to work with a global network to assist in the visa extension and renewal process.
“Some companies may be unequipped to handle the rigors of the H-1B visa application process. When clients partner with Kforce, they are guaranteed quality work backed by years of experience,” Mohan said.
As a proven partner in immigration strategy, Kforce spearheads the international talent acquisition process and smoothly pilots through obstacles involving immigration compliance.
A brand leader in international talent solutions
According to Mohan, two aspects set Kforce apart as the brand leader in ITS services—quantity and quality. When it comes to quantity, Kforce is one of the top companies for visa sponsorship approvals. With the entire talent pool having a bachelor’s degree or higher alongside work experience both in the U.S. and their native country, Kforce continues to lead the way in the foreign talent landscape.
Kforce has successfully sponsored over 20,000 visas over the past 18 years, enabling customers to achieve business goals and meet the increasing demand for STEM talent. This victory is accomplished through an innovative approach to managing immigration solutions while providing compliant accessibility to onshore international talent.
With a 97 percent visa approval rating compared to an industry average of less than 70 percent, Kforce immigration subject matter experts have a wealth of knowledge to offer consultative guidance and mitigate risk.
Kforce’s virtual bench of international talent also offers clients speed to market. “If there is a job that opens up, Kforce can submit candidates within hours,” said Mohan. The virtual bench also allows Kforce to submit candidates across the nation, with over 90 percent of the talent pool willing to relocate.
Leveraging Kforce’s International Talent Solutions
If your organization is experiencing hiring challenges from the STEM talent gap, contact Kforce’s International Talent Solutions team. With over 20 years of experience in executing international talent acquisition, Kforce’s capabilities can help your business find quality talent, securing your competitive edge.