Outsourcers could be forgiven for feeling a little beleaguered in the US as the president seems set against offshoring at least (and outsourcing gets tied up with that in many people’s perceptions) – so how do you trump a Trump? In Infosys’ case the answer appears to be to announce the creation of around 10,000 jobs in America.
The move, noted in the Jerusalem Post and no doubt elsewhere, will take two years and will kick off with the establishment of a data centre in Indiana by the end of this year. There may be no political significance in the location at all, but if we were in that sort of mood at Intelligent Sourcing Magazine, we’d have set it up in vice president Mike Pence’s home state, too.
Addressing the problem, not the country
OK, that last comment was flippant. In fact this seems to us to be a reasonable way of continuing to deal with a newly-protectionist USA.
The problem the current administration perceives and which it is therefore trying to address is the H-1B visa system. This, as we’ve mentioned before, was established to plug gaps where there were no IT skills and allow specialist firms to bring in workers where it was absolutely necessary. They did so, but the system unintentionally also allowed for the importation of cheaper workers from other countries when there were American workers on the spot (You can argue the merits of preferential terms for domestically-sourced workers at your leisure – we’re just saying how it was).
This has become particularly galling for some workers at universities who have not only been told they’re up for replacement by cheaper employees but that they must train their replacements.
Deciding to invest in the US and expressing a preference for American hires therefore seems a fairly astute means of addressing this initial issue. The interesting part is going to be when it sinks in that the real threat is not from cheaper people but from robots, either hardware or software ones. At that point, either businesses will cave in and use the robots, or someone will legislate and force more expensive overheads – and that’s when the overseas companies that do use robots will become more competitive.
We’re not pretending it’s easy. We just think it’s going to be a major issue by the end of Trump’s presidency, and he’s shown no sign of even being aware of it so far.