Indian IT firms ramp up hiring in the US

NEW DELHI • As India's IT sector downsizes, the country's software firms are hiring in the US and elsewhere because of growing protectionism, which is making it increasingly difficult to send Indian workers abroad.

Last month, Tech Mahindra announced it had hired more than 100 local, full-time workers at its Alpharetta office in Atlanta.

It said in a statement that the hiring initiative showed "Tech Mahindra's commitment to hiring American workers". The company, which employs more than 2,000 Americans, also said it is actively recruiting from leading universities across North America.

Company officials noted that local hiring revolved around getting workers with specific skills based on client demands.

IT firm Infosys said in May that it would hire up to 10,000 Americans for its US clients over the next two years, while Wipro announced in June that it had hired more than 1,600 Americans.

The United States is an important market for India's top software firms and accounts for over 60 per cent of their revenue. Yet growing protectionism has the software sector worried, with hiring locally seen as one way to go.

US President Donald Trump - who came to power promising to protect American jobs with his "America First" policy - has blamed the IT sector for taking away local jobs in the US.

HIGHER COSTS

They pay US$60,000 for a worker in the US - they can hire three project managers (in India) for that amount. So their manpower costs are actually going up.

MR KRIS LAKSHMIKANTH, from The Head Hunters India, on Indian firms hiring more local staff in the US.

He has threatened to tighten visa rules to make it harder for software firms to send Indian workers to the US and, in April, asked different agencies to suggest reforms to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled. Indian software firms deny accusations that they flood the system with visa applications.

Experts said Indian firms had little choice but to hire locally even though local hires typically get paid three to four times more than Indian workers.

Mr Kris Lakshmikanth, chairman and managing director of executive search firm The Head Hunters India, said more local hires in the US and Singapore are causing job cuts back home. But herein lies the irony, he said.

"They pay US$60,000 (S$81,600) for a worker in the US - they can hire three project managers (in India) for that amount. So their manpower costs are actually going up."

Nirmala Ganapathy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Indian IT firms ramp up hiring in the US'. Print Edition | Subscribe