Nearshore Americas
Best of 2017 - immigration

Top 10 Nearshore Stories of 2017: Immigration, Talent Shortage Primary Concerns

Whenever a new year rolls around, it’s always a great time for reflection and taking stock of where Nearshore stands as an industry.

While decision makers in both the BPO and IT services sectors have faced numerous challenges in the last 12 months, the sector continues to thrive and grow at an extraordinary rate.

Even so, as we examine our readership statistics for 2017, it’s clear that our audience has a number of very specific concerns about issues that could still put a dent in the industry’s achievements, namely immigration and the absence of talent.

Check out the top 10 most-read posts published on Nearshore Americas in 2017, and tell us how you predict the industry will be impacted in the coming year. Just click on the headings to read the original articles.

New H1B Visa Policy Labelled a “Lose-lose, Brain-dead Strategy”

In 2017, an ongoing point of contention for much of the Nearshore industry (that is still an issue today) has been Trump’s commitment to limiting the flexibility of America’s immigration policies.

No topic was more controversial for our audience than the changes to the H1B visa policy, which were enacted just days before the application process began in April. The policy required that companies prove that software development roles require enough advanced knowledge and experience to justify an H1B application, causing a stink among the big Indian IT firms.

The comments section on this article shows how sensitive the issue is, with people from all over the US and India locked into a heated debate about it (seriously, check out the accusations of “falsehoods” and “shams” – they’re quite entertaining).

Today, the H1B visa is still undergoing “tweaks” and amendments, which could significantly reduce the volume of foreign IT workers in the US as a result of mass deportation. Will we see an even more controversial impact from H1B changes this year? Quite likely.

TN Visa under Threat as Trump Vows to Renegotiate NAFTA

Before Trump enacted much of his new immigration legislation, readers were already getting spooked by the potential impact on the TN visa if NAFTA was dissolved – another of Trump’s threats.

Niskanen Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that advocates on public policy regarding immigration reforms, predicted early in 2017 that the TN visa would fall if NAFTA got re-written, but, a year later, we’re still yet to see if this will be the case.

As NAFTA talks continued throughout the year, and as the issue remains unresolved, the TN visa – which applies to Canadians and Mexicans that want to work in the US – has remained unscathed so far, but the talks are expected to be complete in 2018, so the fate of this extremely useful visa should be revealed.

Conduent Sues Cognizant for Over $150 Million in Damages

People obviously love a good old corporate boxing match, with this story being the third most-viewed article of the year.

Conduent, the BPO offshoot of US printing giant Xerox, sued the technology services provider Cognizant for over US$150 million over accusations that it breached contract.

Both companies held their ground and claimed they were in the right, and, as yet, we haven’t seen if the lawsuit was settled. If the companies come to a resolution in 2018, Nearshore Americas is the place to hear about it first.

Scrapping the H1B Visa Program Would Hurt Both US and India

As the topic of H1B continued to make headlines, more reports and analysis was released to try to make sense of where things would stand when it was removed.

According to a new study by the Center for Global Development (CGD), its absence will lead both India and the US to lose their supremacy over the global IT market, forcing the industry to shift to countries like Canada.

Yes, Canada has seen an influx of new talent arriving since it relaxed its immigration laws and created initiatives to attract software developers, but the US and India are yet to show massive problems as a result. Maybe this will change in 2018.

CEO View: Let’s Face It, Colombia and its Neighbors Have a Massive Problem

In this exclusive interview with Jorge Aramburo, CEO and Founder of PSL, a Colombian software development firm, voiced the pressures that his country faces in meeting demand due to a severe lack of talent.

“Right now, trying to compete without software is the same as trying to compete without electricity, and the world doesn’t have enough people to make the software that we humans now need,” he said, echoing that the whole planet is under the same pressure.

Thankfully, government and corporations are becoming increasingly aware of the talent crisis, and many initiatives are coming in 2018 that aim to solve the issue. Let’s hope they are successful.

Mexico City the Most Traffic Congested Place on Earth

As a resident of CDMX, this one hit especially close to home for me, as the traffic crisis here puts a real dent into overall quality of life.

Drivers in the Mexican capital can expect to add an average of 66% to the normal travel time, according to TomTom, but, from my experience, a 20 minute drive can often take you around an hour or more while you sit in endless queues of traffic.

Even so, the city’s residents (myself included) have been embracing public transport, Uber, rental bikes, and even electric cars much more in 2017, so hopefully those positive changes will continue into the New Year.

H1B Visa Restrictions Stoke Fear over Skill Shortage: Survey

More H1B fears, but this time from large US IT companies.

Days after Trump issued an executive order to reform the visa program, Harvey Nash conducted a survey revealing that more than 60% of IT leaders had successfully accessed highly skilled IT talent through H1B.

The research firm also predicted that the proposed visa restrictions would push IT wages up and prompt companies to outsource more of their business functions.

Anyone in the IT sector care to comment? How are your wages looking today compared to mid-2017, and are you outsourcing any work as a result?

Capgemini Chasing Further Expansion with Plans to Aquire Ciber

French IT consulting and outsourcing giant Capgemini made great strides in the North American market last year, picking up tech firm Ciber for just US$50 million.

The move was made to capitalize on the company’s portfolio of US clients, particularly in the automotive, telecommunications, and media sectors.

At the time, North America accounted for 30% of Capgemini’s revenue, so we’ll be looking to find out what this acquisition did to that figure later in the year.

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Conduent Exiting Two Locations in United States, Cutting 187 Jobs

Conduent picks up another top spot with this story, making it clear that Nearshore is watching the company very closely.

The firm left behind its locations in Webster and Rochester in the summer, reducing its workforce and overall US footprint, with dwindling revenues being cited as the main reason.

This wasn’t a one-off either: In April, the BPO provider eliminated 149 jobs in Moosic, Pennsylvania. In June, reports then surfaced that it would cut nearly 250 jobs in Denver.

Let’s hope things start looking up for the company in 2018.

H1B Visas: A Tidal Wave of Change or Much Ado about Nothing?

It’s quite fitting that the last article in this list aims to decipher the hyperbole and predictions that have arisen from an absence of H1B, seeing as four out of ten of our top ten are related to the visa.

The good news in this piece is that any changes to H1B are not expected to negatively impact US employment, but could actually boost the talent pool as foreign and domestic companies move people back onshore.

While we see that Nearshore is not expected to be demolished, or even dented, by a loss of H1B, check out the combination of charts, data, interviews, and analysis in this piece to make your own conclusions, and let us know what you think.

What were your favorite stories from 2017? What would you like to see more of as we head into 2018? Sound off in the comments.

Matt Kendall

During his 2+ years as Chief Editor at Nearshore Americas, Matt Kendall operated at the heart of both the Nearshore BPO and IT services industries, reporting on the most impactful stories and trends in the sector.

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