Sep 15, 2019
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Will the Trade War Slash the Tech Sector’s Talent Pool?

The ongoing trade war between the United States and China has been drawing plenty of international news coverage, but many analysts, business professionals and everyday commentators are failing to pay attention to one of its most important long-term consequences. It’s growing increasingly obvious that trade disputes between the U.S. and other nations will quickly escalate into broader geopolitical conflicts that could inhibit the flow of not just goods, but also people, across international borders.

Will the trade war thrash the tech sector’s talent pool?

Most of the news coverage centered on the president’s ongoing trade war has focused on American farmers and logistical supply chains. Chinese media sources have been endlessly cheering the ongoing dispute as being fantastic for Chinese logistics companies, but the truth of the matter is that businesses on both sides of the Pacific have been sorely hit by the geopolitical conflict.

American companies being forced to redraw their supply chains has warranted plenty of coverage, but the long-term consequences of this trade war as it pertains to our future talent pool have gone largely unnoticed.

We can’t forget how tech shapes the world.

Perhaps the reason we’re so eager to ignore the long-term costs of the trade war is that we want it to be over as soon as possible and can’t spare another moment’s agony in musing its future consequences. The truth of the matter is that we can’t forget how tech shapes the world, as having a well-educated workforce and a focus on digital technology is the only surefire way to remain prosperous well into the 21st century.

American companies shouldn’t be fretting about their supply chains or find themselves kept up at night by worries that they won’t be able to hire talented workers in the future. Instead, they should be digitizing their operations, bolstering their online presence, and honing their digital marketing abilities to more capably compete in tomorrow’s market. Regardless of the company’s size, all digital marketing channels can help SEO and ultimately allow companies to remain competitive.

Shrinking the American trade deficit is evidently an important priority for a large number of politically well-connected voters, but the truth of the matter is that the damage being wrought on the American system of higher education is drastic and, while largely unnoticeable right now, will spell out long term consequences which haunt us for generations. Companies in Silicon Valley will find it harder and harder to attract overseas talent when those prospective workers are terrified of having their visas suddenly revoked. Furthermore, depriving American students of opportunities to mingle and learn from foreign students (who are often the best and brightest from their native countries) is harmful to our own budding generation of future entrepreneurs and scientists.

Trade disputes between the United States and her trading partners shouldn’t be resolved at the expense of American universities and their student bodies. American students should have every opportunity to speak and interact with foreign students, many of whom will become future Americans (or at least temporary workers here) because of their experiences at American universities. The better way to compete with China would be to focus on renewal, rather than protectionism.

The insinuation that trade wars are good and easy to win spells out disaster for the future of American higher education. Unless we can remain attractive on the global stage, our universities will slowly but surely lose their position at the top of the global hierarchy. Ongoing trade tensions become even more economically harmful when they’re resolved in such a way that the American workforce loses access to crucial professionals who are often the best and brightest workers available. The trade war shows no sign of abating anytime soon, and our tech sector will continue to suffer for as long as it rages on.

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