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Wipro To Boost U.S. Hiring

The IT outsourcer says it wants at least half the workers at its U.S. facilities to be American born.
To position his company to win more federal and state contracts, and to insulate it from protectionist moves to limit the H-1B visa program, Wipro chairman Azim Premji said he wants at least 50% of the staff at the outsourcer's locations in the U.S. to be American born.

"I think our approach has been simple, we are localizing more and more," Premji said in an interview published Thursday by India's Economic Times. "Our objective is quickly get up to at least fifty percent of the people we have working overseas to be locals," said Premji.

Indian outsourcers that maintain operations in the U.S. typically staff those facilities mostly with temporary workers from India who enter the country on H-1B visas.

But Premji said that situation limits their ability to bid for some government contracts that require workers to be American. It also means labor supplies could be tight if the H-1B program is reduced or curtailed, as some Democrats in Congress have proposed.

"We have started recruiting from [U.S.] campuses for a big reason," Premji said.

"It's a good insurance against any more restrictive visa policies, which encourages local employment. Two, it positions us well for certain state government business if you focus on critical masses in some states. Three, it's cost effective compared with sending people on visas," he said.

Wipro, which maintains a worldwide workforce of more than 100,000 employees, has already started beefing up its U.S. presence.

The company in 2008 opened a major software development center in Atlanta that currently boasts a staff of 400. Wipro said its Atlanta Development Center will host 1,000 workers by 2013.

Last month, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce tapped Wipro for one of its Global Impact awards, which it hands to companies that help in "attracting, retaining, and expanding international business in the Atlanta are," according to the group's Web site.

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