Please understand, US has a talent shortage: Infosys, Cognizant warn

Infosys and Cognizant, two of India’s largest software exporters, have warned that there is a shortage of talent in the United States, a concern that has to be looked at by President-elect Donald Trump when he assumes office.

Trump, who won the election on his anti-immigrant and anti-outsourcing campaign, had warned of policy changes that would retain jobs for locals, while throwing illegal immigrants out of the United States.

He targeted IBM, the Talent Shortage US technology player which has a sizeable presence in India, and other outsourcers such as HCL Technologies and TCS during his campaign.

“There is a talent shortage; that is something that has to be balanced,” said Vishal Sikka, chief executive officer of Infosys, at the Credit Suisse 20th Annual Technology, Media and Telecom Conference on Thursday. “It is not that the H1B visa employees are coming in to displace jobs. If you look at many other high-tech companies, they all hire H1B visa workers because there is an inherent shortage.”

Cognizant, which is headquartered in the US but follows the offshore model with majority of its workers in countries such as India, said the US does not have enough graduates passing out who can handle the disruptions in technology.

Cognizant President Rajeev Mehta said at the conference: “We have worked with the (Barack) Obama administration, we are going to work with the (Donald) Trump administration (and) really looking at the education system. The reality is that there is not enough graduates coming out of the universities. We are working with many universities all over the US, both graduates and undergraduates. We struggle. There is just not enough talent and given the disruption (in technology) that is going on, it will become a greater problem. The issue is around education and we hope that we can get them to understand that this is a big problem.”

Mehta said the focus should be to value existing work that has been done to get highly talented technology workers, who also pay taxes in the country.

Sikka, a US citizen, said Infosys was hiring more locals and expects the Trump presidency to be more business-friendly. “Under the Trump presidency, our expectation is that it is going to be a more business-friendly atmosphere, more innovation-oriented innovation-friendly atmosphere. So there will be plenty of opportunities to bring innovation into industries like banking and health care and pharmaceuticals and so forth,” added Sikka.

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