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Arizona to train locals to replace Indian workers

The US state has granted $3 mn to counter dependence on highly skilled workers from India.

business Updated: Jan 14, 2004 14:07 IST

The US state of Arizona has set aside $3 million as a grant to train its own workers and counter dependence on highly skilled foreign workers, particularly from India.

The H1-B Training Grant for the state's Maricopa county from the US Department of Labour's Employment and Training Administration is for a specific goal: to reduce businesses' dependence on Indian H1-B workers.

The grant programme, named after the H1-B visas that foreign workers need to work here temporarily, is designed to upgrade the skills of American workers so they can fill the high-skills jobs that often go to foreign workers, according to a report in the Arizona Republic.

Sixty per cent of those foreign workers are from India, and they generally have a master's degree. Employers pay fees to recruit H-1B visa holders. The government wants to lessen companies' dependence on these highly skilled foreign workers here on visas and to retain US jobs.

"Companies are saying that our domestic US workers do not have the skill set that foreigners do," said Suzanne Ledy, business projects coordinator for the Maricopa Workforce Connections Centre in Phoenix and the grant manager for the latest proposal.

"It (the programme) is to increase the skill level of our domestic workers so we can ultimately replace H1-B workers," she said.

The county's workforce development division, which includes the free Workforce Connection Centres, helped 956 workers over the past two years with the first H1-B grant. The bulk of the money, 85 per cent, was used to upgrade the skills of existing workers; the rest was used to help laid-off workers.

The latest grant will be used for job-training programmes in H1-B-heavy industries: IT, manufacturing, engineering and biotechnology.

Officials said companies that collaborated with the county on the grant included Honeywell, Apollo Group, Brooks Automation, Three-Five Systems and TGen.

Job-training programmes funded by the grant are offered at the county Workforce Connection Centres, employer sites and through other training providers.

To be eligible, employees and laid-off workers must have a bachelor's degree and at least four years of experience.

First Published: Jan 14, 2004 13:14 IST