Alexander Acosta explains need for H-1B visa program, denounces ‘knowledge transfer’ system

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NEW YORK: The Trump administration’s nominee for labor secretary Alexander Acosta made it clear during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill that while the purpose of H-1B visa is not to displace American workers, the visa is needed to bring in skilled workers from overseas to fill up jobs that Americans don’t have the skill-set for.

“Some Americans have seen jobs go overseas. Some Americans have seen jobs filled by foreign workers. Indeed, I’ve read reports that some Americans have been asked to train their foreign replacements,” Acosta told Senators during his confirmation hearing, on Wednesday. “And some Americans see that jobs are available, but these available jobs require skills that they do not have,” he said.

Responding to questions from Senators, Acosta also denounced the controversial system known as ‘knowledge transfer’ where tech workers on H-1B are used to displace American workers and also be trained by them.

“Particularly, when, in those circumstances that I highlighted where Americans are being asked to train their foreign replacements. That is not the intent of the H-1B,” Acosta said.

“So one question that I would have is, how often is that happening? Is that something that we should be looking at with greater degree of care? I think we also need to work with, public-private partnerships. I know that there is a lot of discussion about an infrastructure program. An infrastructure program will certainly bring back a lot of jobs,” he said.

Acosta also explained how it’s not just the jobs as part of an infrastructure program or jobs that are developed for a small business but as individuals get jobs they spend money, and that resonates throughout the economy.

“Then those individuals that spend money go to restaurants. And you have this multiplier effect throughout the economy that I think is incredibly valuable,” he added. “My parents had jobs; but not all Americans have jobs,” he said, adding that helping Americans find good jobs, safe jobs, should not be a partisan issue.

“We can and must work to reduce the skills gap. We need to make better efforts to align job training with the skills the market demands of its workers, especially as advancing technology changes the types of jobs available in our economy,” he added, advocating jobs training programs.

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