Indian IT services giant Infosys has pledged to hire 12,000 more American workers in the next two years and will prioritise graduate hires because they let the company grow while keeping costs down.
The price Infosys and its ilk pay for labor is a political hot potato in the USA, where it and other Indian tech services companies are an explicit target of president Donald Trump’s policy to restrict access to the H-1B visas that allow skilled workers temporary entry into the USA and a path to permanent residency. Trump accuses some companies of both killing local jobs by using offshore labour and using H-1B visas to get the workers needed in America on lower wages than US citizens would accept.
Infosys has combated such suggestions by pointing out it already hires lots of US locals and that its new pledge comes on top of a 2017 commitment to hire 10,000 American workers whose skills it will enhance at a substantial new training center in Indianapolis. The company says it exceeded that 2017 hiring goal and ended up taking on 13,000 American workers.
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Infosys president Ravi Kumar pitched the 12,000 new hires as “digital jobs” that need the “skills of the future”. Infosys won’t just make poach rivals’ staff, he said, and will instead give the COVID-crushed economy a boost by hiring graduates, “individuals without traditional four-year degrees” and even students from liberal arts colleges and community colleges that might not be obvious candidates for careers in tech.
Which is where things get interesting because, in the interview below, Kumar said that this hiring plan will deliver costs comparable to the company’s current H-1B and offshoring practices.
Highlight: “We have already hired 13,000… with a mix of reskilling from adjacent capabilities, hiring from schools and colleges where the per capita cost is much lower, and hiring from the market,” Infosys President @imravikumars says. Full interview: pic.twitter.com/PelEO1u7JA— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) September 1, 2020
“We will be hiring from colleges and design schools and community colleges where the per capita costs are lower,” Kumar said. “We have always believed we have to hire locally and amplify with global talent. Training is always expensive but if you are building from the ground up it will be viable enough for our businesses.”
All of which leaves Infosys close to where it started, with a structure that keeps its labor costs low even as it de-emphasises importing workers and makes just the kind of “bringing jobs to America” pledge that President Trump so adores.
Left unsaid is that travel restrictions around the world, and health risks created by the COVID-19 pandemic, make it unlikely that Infosys would be able to access much talent on H-1B visas even if the US government were more inclined to offer them. ®