As a final year Computer Science student, I have found it hard to not be lured in by the glamour and never-wavering optimism which both defines and engulfs Silicon Valley. It has been fascinating, albeit distressing, to observe the tech hub’s reaction to the divisive politics of the Trump presidency, with the president’s key policies being at odds with the very fundamental principles that many of the top tech companies claim to cherish.
The president’s policies towards immigration across the skills spectrum arguably have the most potentially damaging effect on US-based technology companies’ businesses. As a potential employee of these companies, this situation has become very concerning.
During the months since Trump’s election (Aggarwal, 2017), the president’s decision to cancel the International Entrepreneurial Rule regulation (Chafkin, 2017) has done little to soothe the wounds of electoral defeat in the valley. One critical area of the skilled immigrant debate that is still outstanding surrounds the H-1B visa, which allows American employers to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations with skill shortages (Cantwell, 2011). There is a disproportionately high level of tech-related approvals, as illustrated in Figure 1, providing a clear indication as to why the large US technology companies are so keen to retain the program.
With Silicon Valley not only being financially challenging to live in (Greenberg, Adams & Michie, 2016), but now being difficult just to settle in, it has encouraged me to look beyond San Francisco’s bay for future employment. Writing this blog has opened my eyes to the many promising tech hubs across the globe, with Romania’s Cluj tech city, Chile’s Santiago and London’s own ‘Silicon Roundabout’ (Marshall, 2017) being just a few fighting to take Silicon Valley’s crown. With investment and visas abound, the heart of the tech industry has challenging years ahead.