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AP

Indian tech workers — for decades a backbone of the U.S. IT sector, and a big presence in U.S. university STEM programs — are facing a reckoning in the U.S. and at home, and are having to up their skills to adapt.

  • President Trump's proposals to curb immigration favor high-skilled, high-paying jobs, and target Indian IT outsourcing companies like Wipro and Infosys, which rely on H-1B visas to bring workers to the U.S.
  • The rise of automation and machine learning technologies will reduce some IT jobs, leading to layoffs.
  • Countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are quickly developing tech workforces that compete with India for outsourcing.
  • An increasing need for in-house tech collaboration is leading some U.S. and European firms to turn from outsourcing to local talent.

Why it matters: These shifts are a cloud hanging over one of the most vibrant sectors of the Indian economy: Indian IT — coding, creating and testing software, entering data, customer service — creates $150 billion in annual revenue and employs nearly 4 million people. The tech and political trends challenge all of this.

Depending how far they go, the trends are also a potential threat to Silicon Valley startups and IT companies that have formed a symbiotic relationship with Indian know-how and labor.

Automation has already had a huge impact on the nature of offshoring, says Gartner analyst Helen Huntley. Companies are increasingly hiring local rather than using offshore firms, in part so they can work with clients in real time instead of dealing with a 12-hour time difference.

As a result, Indian workers— like workers across the globe— will need to learn new skills.

  • New jobs may be designing bots, developing languages between them, and supporting an "internet of things" infrastructure. "I think a lot of these people will naturally shift into different kind of work, but there's plenty of work out there," Huntley said.
  • "In the short term, there will be pain on the Indian side, but it's a blessing in disguise," said Sunder Kekre, a business professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Kekre went on: "In the long term, Indians will develop better capabilities and they will still partner with the Microsofts and the Apples of the world. And they'll be able to get a higher salary as a result."

Go deeper

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Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.

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