Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Growing US Space Industry is Scrambling to Find Workers, but Can't Hire "Foreigners"

          By Henry Stewart

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that, while the space industry located along Florida’s space coast is flourishing, employers "are scrambling to find qualified employees to temper a national shortage in the science, technology, engineering and math fields," because of current US legislation, which restricts many well trained, but non-US citizens, from holding down US jobs.

He even looks a bit like the young Justin Trudeau. Shayan Shirankekar is a Canadian citizen who grew up on "the unlucky side of Lake Ontario, in Toronto, an hour drive from the US border," and can't get a Florida space job, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Shirankekar is currently working at an unpaid internship at the Aldrin Space Institute, on the campus of the Florida Institute of Technology, where he is a PhD candidate. Photo c/o Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando Sentinel.

As outlined in the October 25th, 2018 Orlando Sentinel post, "The growing space industry is scrambling to find workers — but it can't take foreigners," the 1976 International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) classified spacecraft and rockets as military technology and only US citizens or permanent residents can work for NASA or the major private space companies which utilize those tools.

According to the article:
Ironically, many of those qualified students are already here at schools such as the University of Central Florida, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University and the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. 
Florida Tech, in particular, prides itself in a student body that is about one-third international. The school has been ranked as No.1 in the nation for its foreign student population by U.S. News and World Report for at least the past four years.
US industry has pushed back against the regulations in recent years, saying it stifles growth.

The February 2014 US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security Office of Technology Evaluation white paper, "Space Industry Deep Dive Assessment on the Impact of US Expert Controls and the Space Industrial Base" noted numerous areas where US export controls have adversely impacted on the health and competitiveness of the US space industry.

In 2014 and 2017, companies successfully lobbied the US Congress to relax some of the rules surrounding the export of satellite technologies overseas.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer. 

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