A software firm planning to bring 465 jobs to downtown Atlanta will do so by slowly phasing out offshore operations after training up a local workforce with a training model developed in India.
If Milletech Systems Inc. can pull it off, the move would turn decades of information technology inertia on its head, as an increasing number of programming functions have been outsourced to cheaper locales, especially India.
Alpharetta-based Milletech sees untapped potential in the young people coming out of metro Atlanta’s universities, especially many middle-of-the-pack graduates at four-year colleges and technical schools.
CEO Nasir Mujawar said they often face a “very vicious cycle”: they’re passed over because they lack professional experience, but companies don’t want to spend the money and training time that would make them employable.
The Googles, Microsofts and Apples of the world drive up the labor costs of the “cream of the cream” in programming coming out of places like Georgia Tech, but that’s only one slice of the state’s labor supply.
Many capable young people are “lost in the crowd” and find themselves working in fields outside their degree post-graduation. The competition is only getting more heated, which means more and more young people could be left behind while the state’s skills gap continues to grow, Mr. Mujawar said.
“This is exactly like India. When the raw material comes out, they don’t have a clue what industry wants,” he said. “All these students need is an opening or an opportunity to do something in this field.”
Milletech has cobbled together an assortment of local incentives, resources and partners that it hopes will allow it to offer clients the offshore price with onshore convenience and touch.
A big part of the pitch to potential purchasers of its cloud computing, application development and business intelligence solutions is that they will be investing in the city’s economy by working with its programmers.
Upon moving all operations into a new development center at 1 Baltimore Place NW in Atlanta, the company will land in an Opportunity Zone that allows it to qualify for job tax credits for each position created. WorkSource Atlanta will oversee (and fund) some of the initial training that should lead to 100 new workers per year in programming, management, support and analytical services, with many students coming from Atlanta’s historically black colleges.
Mr. Mujawar said the plan is a product of more than a year of engagement with the University System of Georgia as well as the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council.
Ironically, the idea sprung out of Milletech training program that it started in its offshore center in Pune, India, near Mumbai. Every year, the company brings on 50 to 100 new graduates and runs them through a six-month intensive training program, then pairs them with more experienced programmers for mentorship.
“This cycle has been going on for the last 18 years or so. We have basically tuned that model so much that it works on auto-pilot,” said Mr. Mujawar, who hails from the state of Maharashtra.
The problem: India has become more expensive and competitive as major multinationals hoover up programming talent, to the point where a cost-competitive on-shore operation can now be envisioned. (Also, Mr. Mujawar is tired of making the long plane journey after decades of living in Atlanta.)
While he is “100 percent” convinced of the model’s future success, it’s not a given, and the 465 job announcement is based on a three-year plan that projects ample new business.
He also added that the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down plans to shutter the India office. Originally, the plan was to move everything to the United States by the end of 2021. How quickly the company will be able to do so now remains to be seen.