Indian outsourcing company HCL Technologies is teaming up with Michigan utility Consumers Energy to establish a center of excellence in Jackson, Mich. The center is expected to employ 300 people in phase one, but that number is expected to grow to 500 in the next few years.
The positions are expected to be filled by 2014, according to TV station WLNS, which says unemployment a few years ago in Jackson County was 18 percent.
HCL will take over the IT work for Consumers Energy, the fourth-largest U.S. electric and natural gas company, and will use the center as a "training and development hub for advanced and emerging IT processes and tools." The utility has about 500 IT employees doing mostly maintenance and support work for the company's internal computer systems, while 260 IT consultants do more high-end work, such as developing online applications and design work for the company's Smart Grid technology, MLive.com reports. The agreement is for the utility's full-time employees to be retrained to do the premium work and HCL employees from the development center to do the maintenance and support, so that sounds like a good deal for all.
The Times of India quotes Mamatha Chamarthi, Consumers Energy vice president and CIO, saying:
Our company is making this important investment to provide our employees with new IT skills to work on high value projects and technologies that will prepare our company for the future.
The Financial Express indicates that training will extend to people other than Consumers Energy employees.
In an interview with Computerworld, HCL CEO Vineet Nayar explains that the company saw an opportunity among dissatisfied customers of outsourcing. In that article, Nayar says that outsourcing is dead. He wants to redefine the term as "co-sourcing" with the client company. He explains:
We believe it is more about tools, processes and industrialization.So what we are offering our customers is that by industrialization, implementation of ITIL, implementation of tools, with our competence and capability in these areas, we would be able to reduce costs between 20 to 30 percent offshore-to-offshore or nearshore-to-nearshore. Without changing the location or the country of the employee base, we can take off 20 to 30 percent because of our own IP, our own toolsets, our own dashboards and our own expertise in use of these things. That is a competitive advantage.
In its pledge to create 10,000 jobs in the United States and Europe in the next five years, the company has pledged to hire locally. TV station WILX says the unemployed will get first crack at the jobs, though questioned whether the area, west of Ann Arbor, would have the work force with skills these jobs require. Its reporter asked Gov. Rick Snyder at the announcement, who mentioned programs such as Shifting Code, which offers a 12-week tech training program.
At its U.S. centers, HCL works with area universities to hire the work force it needs, though computer science and engineering students are hotly recruited long before they're even seniors.