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CEO: Michigan businesses need foreign workers for high-skill jobs

Aug 10, 2016

Much of the national debate about immigration reform focuses on unskilled foreign-born workers.

But there’s another side: the highly-skilled foreign-born worker who has the knowledge and skills that businesses so badly need.

Tel Ganesan is the CEO and president of Kyyba, Incorporated. It’s an engineering services and software product company based in Farmington Hills.

He believes national policies on immigration need to change if the Motor City and the nation are to remain an industrial superpower.

Ganesan told us that companies like his are in a “war for talent,” trying to fill these engineering and technology jobs from a too-small pool of American workers.

“The economy’s constantly changing, but our education system is not producing enough graduates in line with … where [the economy] is trending,” he said. “Because of that, the gap continues to widen.”

According to Ganesan, most companies in America look to hire U.S.-born citizens, but American kids coming out of college with STEM degrees tend to get hired up by major corporations before other companies can get to them.

“So it’s not that, you know, you’re coming and taking away jobs,” he said. “You’re trying to fill a gap that exists that nobody is able to fill.”

Addressing this gap requires both short- and long-term strategies, Ganesan told us.

In the short term, since we can’t just produce new engineers today, he said we have to “work the system” and “bring the best of the best, wherever they are.”

“That’s what America is known for, we are the land of immigrants,” Ganesan said.

In the long term, Ganesa told us we need to focus on motivating our kids to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, “so that we produce more than what the economy’s looking for.”

Regarding immigration policy, Ganesa thinks we should adopt a much more flexible system that is reflective of our economy’s needs. Ideally, he said, if the economy demands 200,000 visas, then, “in a dynamic fashion,” we should offer 200,000 visas.

“It’s an economy-driven situation, not an arbitrary number pulled out of the air by some legislator,” he said, adding that to think that’s how the world and the economy operate is “a false proposition.”

Without immigration policy reform, Ganesa told us America risks losing its competitive edge.

“Do we want to lose our competitive advantage? Do we want to maintain that or exceed that, and be a leader, be an innovator, and be the inventor of everything on the face of the planet Earth? That’s the question the lawmakers need to ask,” he said.

“It’s not about political soundbites … it’s a much larger issue, and the economy is at stake, and one needs to put themselves above their personal agenda and really look at the whole nation as an economic agenda and do the right thing that will drive the economy.”