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Niti Aayog paper to spur growth in AI jobs in India, say experts

Artificial intelligence will also open up new job roles that may not be very popular right now

M Saraswathy @maamitalks
Neha Alawadhi @alnehaa

The number of jobs in artificial intelligence may see a jump of 50-60 percent, spurred by a discussion paper released by government’s policy think-tank Niti Aayog that highlights the changing landscape.

Some recruiters expect a rise of about 60 percent this year itself.

The discussion paper titled “National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (AI)” details the need for upskilling and reskilling the workforce in AI, which is currently being fulfilled by internal and external means.

The paper, released on Monday, has a section dedicated to skilling, and points out that even though India has a large number of technology workers- the Indian IT industry alone employs over nearly 40 lakh people- AI is a skill gap that needs to be filled.

AI will also open up new job roles that may not be very popular right now.

A study by EY and National Association of Software and Services Companies, released in January, found that by 2022, around 46 percent of the workforce will be engaged in entirely new jobs that do not exist today, or will be deployed in jobs that have radically changed skill-sets.

The NITI Aayog paper notes: “In the IT-BPM sector, traditional software developer roles are set to transition to roles such as computer vision engineers, robotic process automation (RPA) engineers and cloud architects, among others. At the same time, completely new job roles such as language processing specialists and 3D modelling engineers are set to arise as the technologies are increasingly adopted and deployed.”

The industry also took a positive view of the AI paper. "In the wake of developments in AI, data sciences will be key skillset for the industry. This skillset is not just tied to Software and IT industry but applicable across all industries...Data scientists and data engineers both need to be well aware of various programming languages as well as licensed and opensource AI and machine learning platforms," said Abhay Pendse, Chief Architect, Corporate CTO at Pune-based Persistent Systems. 

Data scientists and data engineers also need to be well aware of natural language processing (NLP) particularly in the Indian context as the solutions need to have regional language support, AI will complement and add a lot more efficiency and effectiveness to jobs, he added.

Moneycontrol spoke to recruitment consultants who were of the view that if artificial intelligence were to be implemented across sectors in a systematic manner, there would be at least 45-55 percent increase in the number of jobs created. However, HR experts said that while on one hand skill-gap is a challenge, on the other redeployment skilled talent into AI is the need of the hour.

Interestingly, the Obama administration in the US had also released a paper and policy document on AI in its final weeks. Those documents recognised AI as a technology with potential for driving commercial and societal change. Among the recommendations it made was training students in the US and importing talent from abroad, which was relevant for India and her huge technology workforce.

But with present President Donald Trump differing in view, it is imperative for India to harness her talent force.

Building blocks

The NITI Aayog report said that India has the necessary building blocks to develop a thriving AI research and development ecosystem, viz. availability of highly educated talent pool, world class educational institutes and an illustrious list of top notch IT companies dominating the global IT landscape.

It said that India produced a whopping 2.6 million STEM graduates in 2016, second only to China and more than four times the graduates produced by USA, thus producing the requisite talent pool to drive innovation in emerging technologies.

“Disappointingly though, an overwhelming majority of this talent pool is focused on routine IT development and not so much on research and innovation,” said the discussion paper.

It is natural then, that the huge impact AI is predicted to have, will impact sectors across the board, such as education, agriculture, finance and health.

Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder & executive vice-president, TeamLease Services said that the opportunity exists and every business needs data science to be more competitive and agile in the workplace.

“These jobs will get created. But the focus should be on the skills that can actually convert the opportunity into jobs. India doesn’t have as much talent as required. My worry is that if the opportunity is created and companies don’t find talent within the country, they will go outside to hire the right people,” she added.

Nasscom has already been working with its member IT outsourcing companies to help bridge the skill gap.

“The report comprehensively covers aspects of what India needs to do in AI. One is around skill, and how the FutureSkills platform can align with the growing demand for jobs in AI, another is startups, where we are already engaged, the two centres of excellence in Telangana and Karnataka will also help co-create solutions, and underlying all this is a good implementation framework,” said Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president, Nasscom.

Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO, CIEL HR Services said that companies have already started hiring. “The number of AI Jobs will see a jump of at least 25-30 percent in the next one to two years,” he said.

However, Mishra added that people who pass out of engineering, computer science graduates do not have adequate skills. He said that they know the basics, and are taking use of online courses to bridge the skill gaps.

Also read: Reskilling for future tech, one online degree at a time
First Published on Jun 6, 2018 02:52 pm
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