Greetings Afrik-ITes!

Henry Watermeyer writes from Johannesburg:

> Who says that a) we of the IT industry outside the USA are not being
> targeted or b) that going to the USA is always a great opportunity?

This comment refers in part to this from Edupage:

> California professor Norman Matloff says the real shortage is not in
> skilled workers, but in cheap skilled workers:

I think that's true, though "cheap" is a somewhat vague term.

Junior programmers in Washington (right out of college, unproven, no
work experience) I'm told draw perhaps US$30,000 in the Washington
area, perhaps more in some parts of California or Texas.  An
experienced programmer with 5 years experience and excellent
references could draw as much as $50,000.  Systems analysts who
supervise programmers or design custom solutions for customers might
expect $60,000 to $150,000.

I consider those salaries to be extraordinary.  And even at those
prices, positions sometimes go unfilled.

Recruiting from abroad, one might expect an experienced
African programmer to earn a junior programmer's salary, given the
extra costs and risks involved in recruiting overseas.  And one might
expect that African recruit to hold that lower salary level for at
most three years before moving to something at a higher level.

So, what do you think?  Is coming to America a great opportunity?
Is $30,000 "cheap"?  I suppose it depends on what an experienced
programmer expects to earn in Africa.

You may recall my posting some months ago about recruiting a
qualified technician to work in Wa, Northwest Ghana.  I was told that
the center there would have to pay at least $250 per month, or $3000
a year to attract someone.  Of course, with the same skills, such a
person might earn $20,000 in the USA.

Keep in mind that a very small apartment in Washington with only one
room and kitchen will cost at least $500 per month, or $6000 per
year.  And keeping a job in America or anywhere else generally
requires much more than a technical skill.

I suppose one solution would be for America to keep its immigration
quotas low so that African technicians cannot work here.  This would
also serve to keep American salaries high, yes?

A further complication is that sometimes America just can't seem to
keep its African technicians.  Many insist on going home after a few
years to start businesses, taking their more newly acquired skills
with them.

Jeff @ Washington
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1111 North 19th Street Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22209 USA
Tel 1-703-235-5415  Fax 1-703-235-3805