India’s third largest software services firm Wipro has hired over 1,600 people in the US in the last six months, even as Indian IT outsourcing firms face accusations of taking away American jobs. Wipro has over 14,000 workers in the US. “Over the past six months, Wipro hired over 1,600 employees by attracting and nurturing local talent to drive innovation and help transform clients’ businesses into digital enterprises,” Wipro said in a statement. Over 3,000 locals joined Wipro during FY2016-17, it added. The statement comes at a time when Indian IT companies are confronted by closer scrutiny and tighter visa norms in the US, a market that accounts for nearly 60 per cent of India’s IT exports. With rising protectionism across markets, including Singapore and Australia, companies are beginning to adjust their business models to reduce their dependence on visas, hiring more locals instead.
The ramp up in local hiring is also aimed at placating the Donald Trump administration in the US that has been critical of outsourcing firms. Wipro said it continues to recruit from top universities to build on the momentum of hiring locally in the US. The company has more than 40 facilities across 23 states in the US. “We will continue to build a strong local talent pool with diverse skill sets and make strategic investments in close proximity to our clients to serve them better,” Wipro CEO Abidali Z Neemuchwala said.
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He added that the company is investing in building STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) capabilities within the US through teacher development programmes in the underfunded school districts of New Jersey, Dallas and Boston. The US had accused Wipro’s peers Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys of unfairly cornering the lion’s share of US H-1B work visas, taking jobs away from American workers.
The tightening of visa norms not only pushes up operational costs for these tech firms, but also makes movement of skilled workforce difficult. Infosys had recently announced that it would hire 10,000 Americans over the next two years and set up four innovation hubs in the US. TCS, on its part, has said it has hired over 12,500 people in the US in the last five years and invested nearly USD 3 billion over the past three years towards generating employment, new innovation labs and various education programmes.