Indian Information Technology giant Infosys Ltd will hire about 10,000 US techies over a span of two years and set up four technology and innovation hubs in the country, so as to negate the effect of the H1B visa-related issues.
Infosys shall leverage these new innovation centres to foray into areas like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, user experience, cloud and big data. Speaking to PTI, Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka said the first hub, which will open in Indiana in August this year, will create 2,000 jobs by 2021 for American workers. The location of the other three centres will be decided over the next few months.
These hubs will not only train people on technology and innovation but also help in working closely with clients in key industries like financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, retail and energy. The North American market accounted for over 60% of Infosys’ $10.2 billion revenue in the 2016-17 fiscal.
He said over the last three years, there has been an increase in the use of new technologies like AI and virtual reality and even the traditional projects are 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 re-think the traditional, what has historically been called ‘global delivery model’ and bring in a lot more talent locally,” he added.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a growing sentiment of protectionism across various markets, including the US, that are 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 Ltd (TCS), of “unfairly” cornering the lion’s share of the H1B work visas by putting extra tickets in the lottery system.
Every year, the US grants 65,000 H1B visas while another 20,000 are set aside for those with US advanced degrees. In IT firms’ defence, industry body Nasscom had said these two companies accounted for only 7,504—8.8%—of the approved H1B 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 H1B 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 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.