Business & Economy
Grassley: High-Skilled American Workers Struggling to Find Jobs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen. Chuck Grassley   
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 13:42

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley said today that he is concerned that President Obama doesn’t understand the difficulty that many high-skilled American workers are facing as they look for employment.

In a letter to the President, Grassley notes that the President seemed surprised about the employment struggles of high-skilled Americans when he learned during an online conversation with Jennifer Wedel whose husband, a  semiconductor engineer, had been out of work for three years.

Grassley said the administration’s recent policy changes affecting foreign students and spouses of H-1B visa holders puts American workers at a disadvantage.  Instead, Grassley said that President Obama should support his H-1B reform legislation that will help ensure high-skilled Americans are given the first opportunity to compete for jobs.

Grassley’s H-1B visa reform legislation would help to root out fraud and abuse in the program.  The legislation makes reforms to increase enforcement, modify wage requirements and ensure protection for visa holders and American workers.  The bill does not eliminate the program or change the numerical cap of visas available to petitioning employers.  The legislation has been introduced in previous congresses by Grassley and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.


Here’s a copy of the text of Grassley’s letter to the President.  A signed copy can be found here.


February 7, 2012


President Barack Obama

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500


Dear Mr. President:

I read with interest news reports about your Google Plus “hangout” on January 30th, specifically your conversation with Ms. Jennifer Wedel.  Ms. Wedel told of her husband’s personal struggle in trying to find employment despite the fact that he has an engineering degree and over ten years of experience.  She expressed concern that the government continues to distribute H-1B visas at a time of record unemployment.

I was surprised to learn that you responded to Ms. Wedel by saying “industry tells me that they don’t have enough highly skilled engineers.”  You also said that “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.”  You said there’s a huge demand for engineers across the country, with which Ms. Wedel seemed to take issue.  Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would also suggest otherwise.  According to the BLS, the unemployment rate for electrical engineers rose 3.7% from 2006 to 2010.

Your response to Ms. Wedel leads me to believe that you don’t understand the plight of many unemployed high-skill Americans.  Mr. Wedel’s situation is all too common.  Thousands of qualified Americans remain out of work while companies are incentivized to import foreign workers.  I’m concerned that you’re hearing only one side of the story -- from businesses who claim that there are better and brighter people abroad.

Despite your online chat and interest in investigating the problem, just last week, your administration proposed rules to “attract and retain highly skilled immigrants.”  The Department of Homeland Security will expand the eligibility for foreign students to stay in the U.S. under the Optional Practical Training program.  This program does not have U.S. worker protections, nor does it require that employers pay prevailing wages to these foreign students/employees.  Your administration will also provide work authorizations to spouses of H-1B visa holders, thus increasing the competition for many Americans who are looking for work.   It’s astonishing that, at this time of record unemployment, your administration’s solution is to grant more work authorizations to foreign workers.  These initiatives will do very little to boost our economy or increase our competitiveness.

Nevertheless, I’m encouraged by your statement that “The H1-B should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field.”  I have long believed that it’s not unreasonable to ask businesses to first determine if there are qualified Americans to fill vacant positions.  It seems you may agree with this premise.

Therefore, I strongly encourage you to endorse legislation that I have cosponsored with Senator Durbin in the past.  Our bill, which has been included in various comprehensive immigration reform proposals, warrants your leadership.  With your help, we can reform the H-1B visa program and ensure that Americans like Mr. Wedel are on equal footing with foreign workers who are flooding the market.

While I’m glad that Mr. Wedel has been contacted by many employers since your online discussion took place, there are many more highly skilled Americans that need our help and attention.  I hope you’ll work with me to make changes to the H-1B visa program on behalf of all these Americans.

I appreciate your consideration of my views.



Charles E. Grassley

United States Senator

Great Communicators Get the Health-Care Jobs, Promotions, Experts Say PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 06 February 2012 14:02
2 Specialists Share Tips for Getting Your Message Across

There’s a bright spot in the U.S. employment picture: the health-care industry.

Health-care employers added 17,000 jobs in November, and they’ve been adding an average 27,000 jobs a month since December 2010, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

That’s the good news. The bad news is nearly 10,000 health-care workers have lost jobs since August; there were 136 mass layoffs in that time period.

“Finding work in health-care is definitely getting easier, but the stiff competition means you’ll need more than credentials to land those jobs,” says Stephanie Roberson Barnard, a communications consultant who specializes in training medical professionals to speak and write clearly and effectively.

“Check any online job-hunting Web site for science, technical, pharmaceutical, biotech and medical jobs and you’ll find one common requirement: ‘excellent communication skills,’” she and co-author Deborah St. James write in their new book, Listen. Write. Present: The Elements for Communicating Science and Technology (Yale University Press; 2012),

Unfortunately, the science-rich education required for health-care professionals leaves little room for learning how to craft a message for a particular audience, be it an email or a PowerPoint presentation. And that’s essential not only for getting jobs, but for keeping them and winning promotions, Barnard says.

She and St. James, deputy director of publications and communications for a North Carolina biotech company, offer these tips for getting your message across:

• Plan: Take time to get to know your clients, colleagues and co-workers. Establish rapport and cultivate a collaborative relationship by finding out about others’ interests (check out the pictures in their offices for clues) and inquiring about them. If you have never been to their offices, look them up on Google or their company’s Web site. Always keep your personal conversations light and professional.

• Listen: Smile, nod, and acknowledge the speaker – and mean it. Really focus on what the person is saying and not just on the words. Truly effective communication requires your full attention. It’s better to spend a few minutes concentrating on the other person’s message during a conversation than wasting time trying to remember what he or she said because you were trying to do something else. It’s okay to write or type notes as long as you ask permission first.

• Present: Practice. Practice. Practice. Need we say more? Of all the tips we offer, practicing is perhaps the most important one. People in our audiences often suggest that it’s possible to over practice. They claim that too much practicing makes a talk appear staged. We have found that the “stiff” presenters are the ones who haven’t practiced. They’re so busy trying to remember what they’re going to say, they can’t tune into the audience or deviate from their slides. In contrast, the speakers who have mastered their content seem to glide about the room, exuding just the right amount of enthusiasm.

• Meet: Respect people’s time by presenting materials simply. The biggest complaint people have about meetings is that they last too long. For this reason, presenting your ideas in a simple, concise fashion will give you the advantage of appearing focused and prepared. Remember, never compromise content for simplicity.

• Serve: Be kind to others. It costs nothing and requires no skill. Your kind words, good deed, or thoughtful gift may even launch a cascade of positive gestures among others. A recent study by researchers from the University of California San Diego and Harvard University suggests that cooperative behavior spreads among people. This ripple effect can have a wonderful positive impact on the corporate culture of your organization.

“Good leaders must learn to communicate not only within their field of expertise but also to reach people outside their field of authority, influence and passion,” Barnard says. “With proper training and practice anyone can become a better communicator.”

About Stephanie Roberson Barnard

Stephanie Roberson Barnard has trained thousands of pharmaceutical industry professionals on how to be more effective speakers, writers and communicators. She has also coached hundreds of health-care professionals on presentation skills for FDA hearings, CFO reports and scientific speaker programs, as well as national and international congresses. Her clients include AstraZeneca, Bayer Corporation, WL Gore, and Boehringer Ingelheim. This is her second Yale Press book collaboration with Deborah St. James.

About Deborah St. James

Deborah St. James is Deputy Director of Publications and Scientific Communications at Grifols. She has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry for more than 20 years. Prior to her current position, she was Bayer Corporation’s senior manager for national sales training in the pharmaceutical division. She is a former college English instructor and Senior Editor of Better Health magazine.

Braley Statement on President’s Veterans’ Jobs Corps Proposal PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 06 February 2012 09:20

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement today after President Obama urged Congress to create a new Veterans Jobs Corps that would put veterans to work as first responders or as workers repairing trails, building roads, and doing other projects on public lands:

“After holding a hearing just yesterday on reducing veterans’ unemployment, I welcome the idea of a Veterans Jobs Corps.  One out of every four combat veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan is out-of-work, and this program could help reduce that number.


“Men and women who’ve put their lives on the line for our country deserve every opportunity when they return home.  Why not provide them the opportunity to continue contributing to the nation they love, whether as firefighters, cops, or rangers?  They’ve already rebuilt Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s time to give them the chance to help rebuild America.”

Braley is the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

# # #

STATE FARM® HIRING Top Employer Seeks Qualified Candidates PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Missy Dundov   
Monday, 06 February 2012 09:07
Bloomington, IL (February 3, 2012)--State Farm reports nearly 3,000 openings across the United States and Canada.
State Farm’s commitment to creating innovative solutions to serve customers and policyholders is generating employment opportunities.
“As we continue to define our workforce to best meet our customers’ evolving needs, we are seeking skills and talents from numerous diverse labor markets,” said State Farm Vice President Human Resources, Mary Schmidt.
Named a top employer, State Farm is a family of insurance and financial services companies that together serve tens of millions of customers. Our business lines offer more than 100 products.
State Farm has offices in all 50 states and three Canadian provinces. Current openings exist in:
  • Claims
  • Customer Service
  • IT/Systems
  • Underwriting

Governor Quinn Announces Chrysler Increasing Production at Belvidere Plant to Build Next Generation of Vehicles PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Nafia Khan   
Friday, 03 February 2012 15:55

State’s Support Helping to Create 1,800 Jobs

BELVIDERE – February 2, 2012. One day after laying out the Illinois Jobs Agenda for 2012 in his State of the State address, Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Chrysler Group LLC is ramping up production at its Belvidere plant to help build its next generation of vehicles. The company has invested $700 million to retool the plant and will begin production of the new Dodge Dart in the second quarter of 2012. In fall 2010, Governor Quinn announced a business investment package for the company that is supporting the creation of up to 1,800 new jobs and has been instrumental to Chrysler’s decision to expand in Illinois.

“The auto industry is essential to growing our economy. Illinois automakers and their suppliers are thriving today because we have helped meet their needs,” Governor Quinn said. “By providing companies like Chrysler with the tools they need, we’re helping them not only succeed but thrive.”

As part of its investment, Chrysler opened a 638,000 square-foot body shop to support production of the Dart, in addition to installing new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment. The new body shop increased the size of the Belvidere assembly plant to 4.8 million square feet. The plant also includes a 330,000-square-foot stamping plant. The Belvidere facility currently produces the Jeep® Compass and Jeep Patriot.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is administering the state’s business investment package. The package consists of EDGE tax credits, Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) job-training funds that will help enhance the skills of the company’s workforce, and Large Business Development Program funds for capital improvements. Chrysler will also benefit from being located in an Enterprise Zone.

“The Rock River Valley has emerged as a strong leader in the transportation industry, and Chrysler has undoubtedly played a major role in building that reputation,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “Today we’re pleased to stand beside them as they chart a course towards the future that includes their continued commitment to Illinois.”

Illinois added more than 52,000 jobs in 2011, and has added nearly 100,000 jobs since 2010. Since January 2010, Illinois has added almost 20,000 manufacturing jobs.

For more information on why Illinois is the right place for any business, visit



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