Indian outsourcing firm Infosys to hire 10,000 American workers after Trump criticism

An employee of Infosys standing at the front desk of its headquarters in Bengaluru, India.
An employee of Infosys standing at the front desk of its headquarters in Bengaluru, India. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGALORE (BLOOMBERG) - India's Infosys said it plans to hire 10,000 American employees in the next two years, following criticism from the Trump administration that the company and other outsourcing firms are unfairly taking jobs away from US workers.

Infosys, which employs about 200,000 people around the world, will expand its local hiring in the US while adding research capabilities. It plans to open four hubs in the country focused on cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, with the first location to open in Indiana in 2017. That centre is expected to create 2,000 jobs for American workers by 2021, the company said.

The moves come after India's outsourcing firms have come under fierce attack for using foreign workers in place of American employees. Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at overhauling the work visa programmes that Infosys and other firms use to bring overseas workers into the US.

"In the fast-changing world of today, we need the ability to be local. We need to be trusted by our customers as being local," said chief executive officer Vishal Sikka in an interview from Indiana. "To work with a mix of global and local talent is absolutely the right thing to do."

Mr Sikka has come under particular pressure. The Trump administration's promised clampdown on the work visas has hit his company's stock. In addition, a group of Infosys founders publicly accused the board of corporate governance violations and questioned hefty pay raises given to Mr Sikka and his deputy.

Mr Sikka, a former SAP executive, took the helm of India's No. 2 technology services provider almost three years ago with a mandate to remake the company's business model.

Instead of charging customers such as Goldman Sachs Group and Toshiba Corp for the hours spent by technicians and engineers to build and manage corporate computer systems, Infosys set out to build automated software and tools that would detect problems and solve them with less human intervention, freeing up consultants to provide more specialised and proactive services.

Indian outsourcing firms have said that they need to hire foreign workers in part because the US has a shortage of qualified employees. Yet Mr Sikka says that is something Infosys can overcome.

"We are not only hiring computer science specialists but also engineers with software development aptitude and potential who we will train and prepare," he said in the interview.

"In the past two years, through the non-profit Infosys Foundation, we've trained 2,500 teachers and over 135,000 students and that has gone extremely well. The number of people we have trained is almost getting to the size of our delivery organisation and we will be tapping these."