Indian IT major Infosys will hire about 10,000 locals in the US over the next two years and set up four technology and innovation hubs there. This is part of the efforts to tide over visa-related issues.
Infosys will also focus on enhancing its play in new technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud and big data, machine learning and user experience.
Vishal Sikka, the CEO, said the first hub, which will open in Indiana in August this year, will create 2,000 jobs for American workers by 2021. The location of the other three centres will be decided over the next few months.
These hubs will help in working closely with clients in key industries like financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and energy, along with training people on technology and innovation.
The 10,000 people that will be hired will include experienced technology professionals and recent graduates from major universities, and local and community colleges. Infosys will also train them on key competencies such as user experience, cloud, artificial intelligence, big data and digital offerings, as well as a core technology and computer science skills.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a growing sentiment of protectionism across various markets, including the US, that is seeking to safeguard jobs for locals and raising the bar for foreign workers.
The US had also accused Infosys and its larger rival, 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 US grants 65,000 H-1B visas while another 20,000 are set aside for those with US advanced degrees. The North American market accounted for over 60 per cent of Infosys' USD10.2 billion revenue in the 2016-17 fiscal.
In IT firms’ defence, industry body Nasscom had said these two companies accounted for only 7,504 — 8.8 per cent — 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 H-1B visa (in the US) 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 the 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.
Since 2015, Infosys has trained more than 134,000 students, over 2,500 teachers and almost 2,500 schools across America and provided classroom equipment, through Infosys Foundation USA.