Infosys to hire 10,000 US workers after Donald Trump targets H1B visas
Bengaluru: Infosys Ltd said it plans to hire 10,000 Americans in the next two years, following criticism from the Donald Trump administration that the company and other outsourcing firms are unfairly taking jobs away from US workers.
Infosys, which employs about 200,000 people around the world, will expand its local hiring in the US while adding four hubs to research technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. The first location will open in Indiana in August 2017 and is expected to create 2,000 jobs for American workers by 2021, the company said.
India’s outsourcing firms have come under attack for allegedly displacing American workers with employees from overseas. Last month, Trump signed an executive order aimed at overhauling the work visa programmes that Infosys and other firms use to bring overseas workers into the US.
“In the fast-changing world of today, we need the ability to be local. We need to be trusted by our customers as being local,” said chief executive officer Vishal Sikka in an interview from Indiana. “To work with a mix of global and local talent is absolutely the right thing to do.”
The US administration has taken several steps to reform the work visa programmes that outsourcers have used to bring in workers from overseas. Last month, the justice department warned employers applying for the visas not to discriminate against US workers, while the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency issued a memo laying out new measures to combat what it called “fraud and abuse”. In signing the executive order, Trump said there had been “widespread abuse” and directed federal agencies to find ways to reorient the programme.
In that context, Infosys’s hiring may be a useful move politically, even if it increases labour costs in the US.
“This is positive in one aspect and negative in another: Increasing local hiring is important for Indian IT firms to retain ongoing projects in the US, as well as secure new ones. The downside is that the costs will rise,” said Urmil Shah, analyst at IDBI Capital Market Services.
Sikka has come under particular pressure.
The Trump administration’s clampdown has hit his company’s stock. In addition, a group of Infosys founders publicly accused the board of corporate governance violations and questioned hefty pay raises given to Sikka and his deputy.
Sikka, a former SAP SE executive, took the helm of India’s No. 2 technology services provider almost three years ago with a mandate to remake the company’s business model.
Indian outsourcing firms have said that they need to hire foreign workers in part because the US has a shortage of qualified employees. Yet Sikka says that is something Infosys can overcome.
“We are not only hiring computer science specialists but also engineers with software development aptitude and potential who we will train and prepare,” he said in the interview.
Infosys clarified that its plan to increase hiring locals in US will not be at the expense of its hiring plans in India. “Our hiring plans continue to be in line with our business requirements, and is similar to previous years,” said a spokeswoman for Infosys. Bloomberg
Bhuma Shrivastava and Mint’s Varun Sood contributed to this story.