Microsoft backlash

I’ve had the story about MS’s TEALS program pop up in several of my channels over the last couple of days. The gist is that MS sends its engineers to high schools to teach CS because it says it needs those to students to fill future jobs. The program seems like a good one. Lots of schools don’t have CS teachers but have interested students. It’s a win-win. Microsoft isn’t the only tech company that believes it’s going to have a shortage of skilled technology workers. Even the White House has a program for encouraging more students to study in STEM fields.

It’s a shiny happy story until you read the comments. The comments fell into roughly two categories. One category was the I wanted or my kid wanted to take CS but it wasn’t available or wasn’t appealing line. Here’s one example:

My high school had a computer literacy requirement. It basically taught you how to use MS Word. It was a huge waste of time, and now that I’m entering college, I’m interested in trying out CS, but feel as if I’m irreparably behind. An AP course was offered, but I heard that it was difficult and boring, and as a person who was already nervous about computing and had little space in my schedule, it was enough to dissuade me at the time. I’m going to take the first level course at my university- but I wish that I had been exposed much earlier.

There weren’t too many of these. These I actually liked. They proved the need for this kind of program, and made me feel good about the direction I’ve taken with my own curriculum.

The biggest category of comments excoriated MS and other tech companies for outsourcing all their labor. Basically the message was, “this program is stupid because these companies won’t hire Americans.” I’ve heard this argument before. But wow, so much vitriol. The thing is MS, google, and apple aren’t the only games in town. There are smaller tech companies, and most businesses have tech departments. You could teach at the high school or college level. You could use your skills in a different field. It’s just such a narrow point of view to assume that a big tech company is the only job for a CS degree.

It’s just a weird argument and divergent from the main point. And it made me think, “No wonder no one wants to go into CS.” Either they believe these people or they think they’re going to have to work with them.

2 Replies to “Microsoft backlash”

  1. The thing that people don’t realize is that companies like Microsoft would much rather hire Americans. Bringing people in from outside the US is expensive and time consuming. The paychecks for all US employees are the same but an H1B visa means extra costs for legal work and relocation. Also the foreign employees are not helping with the gender balance which is actually important to hi tech companies.

  2. Alfred, that’s my sense of things. I’ve been on searches where that issue comes up. Being a foreign national is almost always a mark against a candidate.

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