Infosys to hire 10,000 American workers : H-1B visa effect

Indian Information Technology major Infosys will hire about 10,000 people in the United States over the next two years and set up four technology and innovation hubs there as part of its efforts to tide over visa related issues.

Through these new hires and centres, Infosys will also focus on enhancing its play in new technology areas like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, user experience, cloud and big data.

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka told PTI that the first hub, which would open in Indiana in coming August, would create 2,000 jobs by 2021 for American workers.

The location of the other three centres would be decided over the next few months. These hubs would not only train people on technology and innovation but also help in working closely with clients in key industries such as financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, retail and energy.

The North American market accounted for over 60 per cent of Infosys’ USD 10.2 billion revenue in the 2016-17 fiscal.

Mr. Sikka, however, said these steps were not being taken just to mitigate the impact of stricter visa norms in the U.S.

He said that over the last three years, there was an increase in the use of new technologies such as AI and virtual reality and even the traditional projects were becoming highly automated.

“As work becomes more next-gen, you need a more healthier mix of global and local talent and so, you need to rethink the traditional, what has historically been called ‘global delivery model’ and bring in a lot more talent locally,” he noted.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a growing sentiment of protectionism across various markets, including the U.S. that are seeking to safeguard jobs for locals and raising the bar for foreign workers.

The U.S. had accused Infosys and its larger rival, the Tata Consultancy Services, of “unfairly” cornering the lion’s share of the H-1B work visas by putting extra tickets in the lottery system.

Every year, the U.S. grants 65,000 H-1B visas, while another 20,000 are set aside for those with US advanced degrees.

In IT firms’ defence, industry body Nasscom had said that these two companies accounted for only 7,504 —— 8.8% — of the approved H-1B visas in 2014-15. At the end of March 2017, Infosys had over 2 lakh people on its payroll.

Tech companies use work permits like the H-1B visa (in the U.S.) to send engineers to work on client sites.

The tightening of visa norms not only pushes up operational costs for these tech firms but also makes movement of skilled workforce difficult. These companies are now adjusting their business models to reduce their dependence on visas and hiring more locals overseas instead.

Mr. Sikka, however, declined to comment on the investment and current mix of locals and global hires in the U.S.

Infosys has already hired over 2,000 people in the U.S. in the last few years under Mr. Sikka.

The 10,000 people that will be hired would include experienced technology professionals and recent graduates from major universities, and local and community colleges. Infosys would also train them on key competencies such as user experience, cloud, artificial intelligence, big data and digital offerings, as well as core technology and computer science skills.

Since 2015, Infosys has trained more than 1,34,000 students, over 2,500 teachers and almost 2,500 schools across America and provided classroom equipment, through Infosys Foundation USA.