New York: Indian IT services giant Wipro is “localising more" in the US and more than half of its workforce in the country now consists of locals, the company’s chief strategy officer Rishad Premji said asserting that the firm is very committed to the US market.
Premji, who is member of the board at Wipro, said Wipro currently has a workforce of over 14,000 employees in the US and 58% of those are locals. Under the Donald Trump administration, there is heightened scrutiny of the H1B work visa programme, which several lawmakers allege is being abused to replace Americans with foreign workers.
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China. Since taking office, Trump has ordered an overhaul of the H1B visa programme to check visa fraud and abuse, and his administration has taken steps to tighten scrutiny of applications, adding to the uncertainty and anxiety of thousands of IT workers on the visas over their future.
“So we are not a 50-50 company. (The US) still remains one of our largest markets so it’s an area of big focus for growth and I think if you cannot win in the US market, you really won’t win globally," Premji said in an interview.
Premji, who was in the city to address the Nasscom C-Summit last week, said Wipro is “very very committed" to the US market. Premji is also the chairman of the Nasscom. “We are localizing more, we are hiring on a very structured basis from campus, which has been very very successful," he said.
In June last year, Wipro said in a press release that locals formed over 50% of its US workforce. In the first half of last year, Wipro had hired over 1,600 employees by “attracting and nurturing local talent to drive innovation and help transform clients’ businesses into digital enterprises".
During the past decade, Wipro said it has invested over $2billion in the US, according to the company press release. The company has been focused on creating jobs in the US underscoring its strategy to “build a deep reservoir of local talent based out of centres close to its clients".
During FY17, over 3,000 locals joined Wipro and the company would continue to recruit from top universities to build on the momentum of hiring locally in the United States, the press release had said.
Premji added that Wipro has been hiring from campuses in the US for two years now and plans to scale that going forward. Wipro also continues to invest in centres in the US and as part of this, it had last year launched a multi-million dollar Silicon Valley Innovation Center in Mountain View, California.
Premji said Wipro also continues to invest from a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) perceptive in the US as well and a big focus for it is to help elevate the quality of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent in the US.
Wipro is working with certain universities that support programmes with teachers who can enhance their own STEM capabilities to then “produce better STEM-educated students in disadvantaged communities, Tier 2 and Tier 3 districts of the US," Premji said.
“We have a huge amount of commitment to this market, we want to be ingrained in the very natural fibre and fabric of this market and the communities in which we work and live and where our employees work and live," Premji said.