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Software services firm Tech Mahindra has set up a dedicated unit to reach out to academic institutions in the US and recruit more local engineers. The Donald Trump administration has imposed restrictions on visas that allow foreign engineers on client projects.
In a letter to senior Tech Mahindra officials, chief executive and managing director C P Gurnani said the company has “stepped up efforts to hire more American workers and train them” in emerging technologies.
“Tech Mahindra has always embraced the philosophy of globalisation to build on its ability to train and hire local talent in whichever market it serves. For the US, we have a dedicated organisation and our associations with academic institutions are enabling that,” he said. The letter was reviewed by Business Standard. He believes the H1B visa system exists especially because of “persistent shortage” of highly skilled local talent in the US across information technology, health care, education and other fields. On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump issued an order to suggest reforms in the visa programme that would encourage firms to recruit highly skilled engineers or pay higher wages on short-term H1B visas from countries such as India.
Bigger rivals such as TCS and Infosys are moving to a regime where the dependency on visas will come down and shift to using technology to collaborate between engineers in the US and India.
Gurnani, however, said the shortage of skills in the US has been the main reason behind sending software engineers for highly skilled works in America on H1B visas and that purpose should be emphasised irrespective of the reforms.
“It needs to be recognized that root cause for the need for skilled workers to be brought in on H1B visas has been and is, the shortage of skilled workers in USA. The proposed measures should address that gap.”
While Indian IT companies are in favour of efforts to “root out any abuse” in the H1B system, Tech Mahindra believes the current campaign “to discredit our sector is driven by persistent myths”, such as the ideas that H1B visa holders are “cheap labour” and “displace American workers”, pointed out Gurnani.
“We have always maintained that the Indian IT Sector has no problem with measures aimed at protecting American workers. The essential point we make is that rules that apply selectively to only some companies that account for less than 20 per cent of H1B visas are not going to protect American workers and will in fact harm US companies and their ability to create and maintain jobs in the US,” Gurnani told employees.