Page 83 - IACC Newsletter January 2013 Issue no. 8 HD

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go a long way in helping Indian tech firms reposition themselves and their image in the world’s biggest market for
computer services.
Sridhar Kota, a professor at the University of Michigan, who attended the graduation ceremony for these students in
August, said lessons learnt from the Infosys Detroit boot camp could be applied elsewhere. “Every time an instructor
popped up on the screen, all 73 students cheered wildly as if they saw a rockstar. In fact, it was so loud that no one
could hear the first few sentences of these instructors. I had never seen such a spontaneous outburst of love and
affection to any teacher ever,” said Kota, who teaches mechanical and manufacturing engineering at the University in
Ann Arbor, Michigan.
When Hall, a part-time bartender in a Detroit casino, started the Infosys course in March 2012, her youngest child was
just five months old. “Every day she would step out of the class to make phone calls to check on her children and rush
back to catch up on what she missed,” said Kota. Hall is now working with GalaxE Solutions in Detroit.
“She was running out of her unemployment compensation—scraping the bottom of the barrel. Who would have ever
guessed that this bartender (not a science or engineering graduate) had the hidden talent to pass (an) Infosys course?”
said Kota. During the first two weeks, 16 students dropped out because they couldn’t cope with the curriculum.
One of the biggest challenge for Moorthy and his team at Infosys was to ensure that the entire programme was
managed well and the content was interesting enough for non-engineering candidates.
“Even basic software programming was expected to be a steep climb for them, so we had to be sensitive,” Moorthy
added. It wasn’t easy to keep the teaching interesting enough to hold the attention of these candidates for eight hours
at a stretch. “Sitting in the classroom for eight hours was a big challenge, but given what was at stake, we even used to
ask for extending it by couple of hours on several days,” said Blue.
Infosys sent 14 people from the company’s learning division to Detroit over the 18-week period. “On the first day of my
class, I was a little intimidated and overwhelmed. The most interesting thing was that while in India you have average
age of programmers in 20s, we were attempting to do it in the late 40s,” said Blue.
Experts such as Kota said the emotional outbursts against offshoring should be seen in the context of the high
unemployment in the US. “The anti-offshoring backlash in the US is a natural reaction to high unemployment— about 22
million are still unemployed, which is a reality, not perception. I don’t think it is against any particular company or a
country. Our own multinationals have jumped on the outsourcing bandwagon more than a decade ago and hollowed out
the country slowly but surely,” said Kota.
Some experts were skeptical of efforts by Indian outsourcing firms to participate in the local job creation. “I think we
need to be careful to look at the scale of these efforts (a few hundred Americans at low salaries) and compare them to
the thousands who are brought in on H-1B and L-1 guest worker visas each year and the thousands more jobs that are
offshored to India by Infosys,” said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of
For experts like Hira, the proportion of American staff in the workforces of Indian tech firms is still far too low.
“When the vast majority of Infosys workers in the US are Americans, we can begin to talk about Infosys being a global
company,” said Hira “Right now the wage differentials are simply too high for Infosys, and other major corporations, to
hire American workers,” said Hira.