Boise-area employers rank 14th out of 106 metro areas in the percentage of requests they make for skilled immigrants to work in science, technology, engineering and math fields, according to a Brookings Institution report released Wednesday.
Valley employers made 360 requests for H-1B visas in 2010-2011, and 82 percent were for workers in STEM fields. The visa allows employers to bring on workers for three years, with a chance for a three-year extension. Workers also may seek green cards for permanent residency and stay while the request is processed.
The top occupations by number of requests were engineers (153) and computer jobs (127). Electrical engineers made up 62 percent of the engineer requests, almost all of which came from Micron, said Jill Wilson, who co-authored the report.
Requests for H-1B visas typically outpace the 85,000 annual limit. This demand is not necessarily evidence of a high-skilled labor shortage among native workers, the report said. It may reflect employers preference to hire foreign workers.
Whats this mean for Idaho? The state is working to boost the number of students who enroll in tech-related fields to help fill employers needs. It speaks to the need for greater effort to get our own students to follow those technical career paths, said Marilyn Whitney, spokeswoman for the Idaho State Board of Education.
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