Two former Disney employees have broken their silence on what it was like to train their cheaper, foreign replacements before leaving employment with the company. And they have some advice for anyone who’s thinking about training to enter the high-tech workforce: Don’t.
“I would never recommend this field to anybody that is a student,” former Disney app developer Leo Perrero told Florida’s WWSB-TV News for a story that has since gone viral.
“People going into the tech field in college or in the universities, they probably won’t have a job,” Blackwell says.
“The grandparents in Sarasota, in Manatee County, wherever, you don’t want your kids coming out of college, your grandkids coming of college, and having no jobs,” Blackwell’s colleague David Powers, added. “The STEM program’s a joke.”
STEM, you likely know, is the acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics: cutting-edge educational and career tracks that high school guidance counselors, for years, urged aspiring students to consider. For a long time, a STEM career was an enviable one: high demand, high pay, job security and portability.
For some — primarily independent contractors, those who work in government and those who work for a stable employer — STEM jobs are still great jobs. But for an increasing number of U.S.-born graduates, they can’t buy a well-paying, long-term career. In some cases, that’s because the government’s literally buying those same jobs for foreign workers to fill.
In far more cases, though, corporate abuse (and winking government approval) of the H-1B foreign worker program is to blame. That’s what happened to Perrero and Powers, both of whom were told they were being replaced at Disney before being asked to train the imported workers who’d be filling their jobs at a reduced wage.
“I’m in the room with about two-dozen people, and very shortly thereafter an executive delivers the news that all of our jobs are ending in 90 days, and that we have 90 days to train our replacements then we won’t get a bonus that we’ve been offered,” Perrero told WWSB News.
With a severance package as incentive, Perrero and Powers obliged. But the experience demoralized them.
“When a guillotine falls down on you, in that moment you’re dead … and I was dead,” said Powers.
“I felt extremely un-American,” said Perrero. “I felt like I was part of destroying our economy because I had to train a replacement that was going to come here, take my job and potentially take other people’s jobs.”