Wipro CEO: U.S. Needs More H-1B Tech Workers

By Paul McDougall
Nov 1, 2006 at 01:08 PM ET

“In his book Bangalore Tiger, BusinessWeek
writer Steve Hamm recounts how a shortage of temporary worker visas all
but crippled the attempts of Indian outsourcer Wipro to win a bigger
chunk of business at General Motors after 9/11. Last week, I dined with
Wipro CEO Azim Premji. He told me that things haven’t changed much.

Over entrees at a modest bistro in midtown Manhattan, Premji was arguing that the U.S. economy needs an influx of foreign tech
workers now more than ever. “Attrition levels in New York are higher
than in India,” said Premji, who, despite his status as one of India’s
richest men, ordered the meatloaf (as did I. Hey, if it’s good enough
for him…).

Premji believes that a shortage of U.S. tech workers, combined with the fact that the H-1B program
is currently capped at 65,000 visas, is creating headaches for both
Indian outsourcers and their customers–which have come to include
virtually all major U.S. corporations. “There’s not enough qualified
labor to go around,” said Premji, between bites.

Outsourcers perform most of their work from remote, low-cost
locations, but nonetheless need some highly skilled employees to work
on-site at customer premises in the U.S.”

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