The spectre of unemployment is often one of the most feared in an adult's life. The grim reality of a rapidly depleting bank balance is usually one matched by the alarming levels of depression that characterise an entire household.
The parents and the children start skimping and saving... looking to save a few pounds here and a few pounds there... maybe even buying goods marginally past their expiry dates... refraining from spending excessively even on the most basic goods... it is not a pretty sight.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (adjusted till Jan. 17), the current rate of unemployment in North America is roughly 8.3 percent; this translates into a figure marginally above 13 million. Furthermore, a report on tradingeconomics.com indicates only France, India and the UK are worse off than the U.S.
In such bleak times, who does one call out to for a job?
Some of us may call as many headhunters as possible... others old favors... still others might just call out to God... and the final few might take it upon themselves and trudge from door to door, looking for a job.
Jennifer Wedel, however, went straight to the top... she asked U.S. President Barack Obama to find her husband a job!
Apparently, while Obama was participating in a live and online interactive debate, when ex-TI engineer E.E. Darin Wedel's wife sharply questioned the U.S. administration's policy concerning H1-B workers. A report by ComputerWorld quoted Jennifer as asking Obama why he thought the H1-B visa was so popular with corporations.
Obama was then told that Wedel was a semiconductor engineer, to which he said: "the word we're getting is that somebody in that kind of high-tech field, that kind of engineer, should be able to find something right away. And the H-1Bs should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field."
Furthermore, the President then asked for Wedel's resume and said he would "forward it to some of these companies that are telling me they can't find enough engineers in this field".
While the President's gesture is certainly a wonderful one... and something the Wedels are appreciative of, the larger question must center on Jennifer Wedel's questioning of the H1-B visa programme (and the uses corporations are putting it through)
Transcript of Conversation between Jennifer Wedel and President Barack Obama...
Wedel: My husband has an engineering degree with over 10 years of experience and he was laid off three years ago and has yet to find a permanent job in his field. My question to you is why does the government continue to issue and extend H-1b visas when there are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job?
Obama: Well, Jennifer, I don't know your husband's specialty but I can tell you that there is a huge demand around the country for engineers. Now, obviously, there are different kinds of engineers, so a civil engineer, for example, right now may not be getting as much work because we're not building our infrastructure as much as we should. Which is part of the reason why in the State of the Union I said let's put folks to work -- not just construction workers, but also engineers and architects -- rebuilding our schools and roads and our bridges and so on. Where you are see seeing a lot of specialized demand is in engineering that's related to the high-tech industries. Now what industry tells me is that they don't have enough highly skilled engineers. If your husband is in that field, then we should get his resume and I'll forward it to some of these companies that are telling me they can't find enough engineers in this field. So it's going to vary, but as a basic matter there is a huge demand for engineers around the country right now ...
Wedel: (breaking in) I understand that, but how, I mean, given the list that you're getting, we're not getting that. You said in the State of the Union address for business leaders to ask themselves what can they do to bring jobs back to America. But why do you think that the H-1b program is so popular with the corporations?
Obama: Jennifer, can I ask you what kind of engineer your husband is?
Wedel: He is a semiconductor engineer.
Obama: The, see, it is interesting to me, and I meant what I said if you send me your husband's resume I'd be interested in finding out exactly what's happening right there because the word we're getting is that somebody in that kind of high-tech field, that kind of engineer, should be able to find something right away. And the H-1bs should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field. So that wouldn't necessarily apply if in fact there are a lot of highly skilled American engineers in that position. I'd be interested in ... I will follow up on this because I'm interested in finding out and maybe we can get some information as to why your husband has been having trouble getting placed. We want to encourage more American engineers to be placed and that's part of the reason why it's so important for us to boost American manufacturing.
Wedel: I appreciate your response, Mr. President. I'll have to take you up on that. Thank you.
(Transcript from ComputerWorld)