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Trump's H1-B fallout: Infosys to hire 10,000 US techies

Bengaluru, May 2 (IANS) Global software major Infosys on Tuesday said it would hire 10,000 American workers in the next two years, a move seen as a fallout of US President Donald Trump’s executive order on H1-B visas a fortnight ago.

The city-based IT major also said it would set up four technology and innovation hubs across North America to focus on cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, user experience, emerging digital technologies, cloud and big data.

The first hub will open in the midwestern state of Indiana in August and is expected to create 2,000 jobs by 2021 for American workers.

“The hubs will have technology and innovation focused areas and serve clients in key industries such as financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, retail and energy,” said the firm in a statement here.

Clients in the US contribute about 60 per cent of the company’s software export revenue per year.

“We are committed to hiring 10,000 American technology workers over the next two years to help invent and deliver the digital futures for our clients in the US,” said Infosys Chief Executive Vishal Sikka in the statement.

The $10.3-billion company will hire experienced professionals as well as recent graduates from major universities and local and community colleges to create talent pools for the future.

“Basically, Infosys is hiring American workers to please Trump, who passed an order recently (April 19) which will force Indian IT firms to pay more salary for high-skilled employees working in the US on H-1B visas,” Head Hunters India Founder-Chairman and Managing Director K. Lakshmikanth told IANS here.

Infosys Deputy Chief Operating Officer S. Ravi Kumar however said the company had been hiring in the US over the years for organic growth and create talent on campuses.

“The right strategy for a company like ours is to build local talent pools and supplement them with global talent in times of shortage. The hubs will be located where we have client clusters and good local talent is available,” he said.

The decision to ramp up local hiring by Indian IT majors like Infosys, TCS and Wipro comes also in light of Trump’s order to ensure that H-1B visas were awarded to the most skilled and highly-paid.

“Infosys will take time to ramp up local hiring as it is very costly. It has to pay a minimum of $80,000 (Rs 52 lakh) per year to a skilled American techie. For the same amount, it can hire four software engineers in India for its offshore development work,” said Lakshmikanth.

Currently, an Indian IT firm pays $60,000-65,000 per year for techies working in the US on H-1B visas and they return after three years of onsite work.

Infosys, which sends about 3,000-4,000 techies to the US every year, will get 50 per cent of the H1B visas under the new rules as part of the quota and the rest through the lottery system.

“If Infosys hires about 500 Americans techies, it will result in loss of 2,000 jobs in India for offshore operations. Automation and AI (Artificial Intelligence) will reduce hiring by another 30-40 per cent,” said Lakshmikanth.

Indian IT industry representative body Nasscom, however, declined to react to Infosys’ plans, saying it “doesn’t comment on company specific matters”.

Observing that learning and education have been the core of what Infosys offered to clients, Sikka said they make the company a leader in times of great change.

Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb said on the occasion that it was good to welcome Infosys to the state to expand its growing tech ecosystem with the addition of 2,000 jobs.

“Indiana continues to put the tools in place such as the Next Level Trust Fund and incentivising direct flights that allow us to attract and retain great companies like Infosys,” he said in the statement.

The Governor also said higher education institutions in Indiana were producing a world class workforce and establishing the state as the innovation hub in the Midwest.

“I look forward to working with Infosys to elevate Indiana to the next level,” he added.

To ensure that American workers are equipped to innovate and support clients in the digitisation of all industries, the company will institute training programmes in competencies such as user experience, cloud, artificial intelligence, big data and digital offerings as well as core technology and computer science skills.

Since 2015, over 134,000 students, 2,500 teachers and 2,500 schools in America have benefited from h computer science training and classroom equipment funded by Infosys Foundation USA.

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