I owe Bill Gates and Microsoft this public apology

I owe Bill Gates a public apology. In my recent Cache Advance column, I suggested that high tech companies should put their money where their mouths are with regard to developing the next generation of highly skilled workers. I specifically pointed out the whines of Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik when he said his biggest problem is recruiting. He used this "problem" to justify Red Hat's propensity to hire employees outside the country.

I suggested that companies like Red Hat should take a bit of their profits and create scholarships to help educate more people for those hard-to-fill jobs at Red Hat and elsewhere.

Then I asserted that Bill Gates has made the same complaint - that Microsoft can't find enough people with the skills the company needs, and wouldn't it be nice if Gates and Microsoft would put their money toward scholarships.

Turns out they do.

Mitchell Enright took me to task for criticizing Microsoft when the company, in fact, offers scholarships for budding computer scientists. Enright sent me this note. Be sure to read all the way through for an interesting note about Red Hat, the original subject of my criticism.

Hi Linda,

I just got done reading your article "Recruiting Solution: Invest in US Workers" and I was struck by the line in which you appeal to Bill Gates to put his money where his mouth is and develop the next generation of computer scientists. I am with you on Red Hat's lack of interest in local investment, but I've always thought Bill Gates (and by extension, Microsoft) had foundations and grant programs setup to distribute money and software to the technology-needy.

In fact,a quick search of Google turned up this site http://www.microsoft.com/college/ss_overview.mspx and the splash page says "Microsoft is committed to building the pipeline of future computer scientists." =)

I used to work for a 501(c)3 and I know first-hand that Microsoft is one of the major providers of low cost software to charitable organizations. Others partners include Adobe, Intuit and HP to name a few....sadly Red Hat is not listed.

You and I should bothbedismayed to find that Red Hat DOES in fact have a scholarship program...in India. http://www.redhat.com/magazine/010aug05/features/india_scholarships/

From that article "...the 2004-2005 Red Hat Scholarships program...an education initiative designed to encourage future open source software developers."

I guess Matthew Szulik wasn't complaining as much as he was explaining, huh? -- Mitchell

So, to Microsoft and Bill Gates I say, thank you! You see the problem and are doing something to resolve it. I apologize for suggesting that you aren't. To Red Hat, I still say, put your American dollars where your mouth is - help educate American high tech workers.

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