May 8, 2013
Updated May 8, 2013 at 2:53 PM CDT
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Caterpillar Inc. Chief Technology Officer Gwenne Henricks urged Congress Wednesday to pass High Skilled Immigration Reform.
Henricks testified Wednesday before a Senate Commerce Committee. He told the group that reforming the current system would enable companies to better compete in the global economy by recruiting top talent with an education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or “STEM” fields.
"Our education system in the United States is currently not producing a robust pipeline of graduates in STEM-related fields to meet our workforce needs," said Henricks. "STEM job growth is expected to be higher than any other occupation over the next 10 years. Caterpillar is actively working to increase the supply of skilled STEM talent in the United States and around the world to fill the jobs we have and will need in the future.”
Henricks also outlined the benefits for companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations through H-1B visas.
The current annual cap for H-1B visas given in the United States is set at 65,000 and was filled on April 1, 2013—the first day that companies such as Caterpillar could file new H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2014. Based on current law, Caterpillar and other companies will be unable to recruit and hire new H-1B employees again until October 1, 2014.
Caterpillar also supports granting green cards to foreign students who receive degrees in STEM fields from American universities and making them exempt from the annual cap. The company also advocates for lifting the per-country limit on green cards.