Most course providers pointed out that artificial intelligence or AI courses were the most sought-after online.
The Indian technology services industry's focus this year is on reskilling the workforce, as the demand for areas like data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning soars.
Several firms are looking in-house for this reskilling but online platforms that offer specialised courses in these fields of study are bridging the gap between the demand and supply of skilled professionals.
According to online education firm Coursera, "career-relevant courses" like machine learning, neural networks and deep learning, introduction to data science, programming for everybody were the most sought-after courses in India last year.
Similarly, the nanodegree (for short duration) course provider - Udacity - also maintains that their data analyst, front-end, machine learning foundation, deep learning and Android developer nanodegree programmes were the most popular.
Artificial intelligence at the forefront
Most online course providers pointed out that artificial intelligence or AI courses were the most sought-after.
"There is a lot of excitement around AI in India, just going by the sheer number of people taking Coursera courses on AI," said Raghav Gupta, Director, India and APAC at Coursera.
According to a recent study by research firm Zinnov, there is a deep chasm between the demand and supply of AI and machine learning talent pool.
"The study highlights that technology companies to get ahead of this chasm, should explore unconventional avenues to rapidly bridge this gap. Apart from leveraging ecosystem players to build capabilities, companies should also leverage online platforms and Service Providers to build and scale their ML capabilities," Zinnov said.
The numbers it presented are staggering- there is a total of about 92,000 installed machine learning professionals across Global 500 companies, and 32 percent of these people work for global tech companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft among others.
The demand, according to Zinnov, is for 4,00,000 machine learning developers by enterprises and start-ups alike.
"In India, the machine learning course enrolment increased by 70 percent during Jan-March 2018 compared to the corresponding period last year," added Gupta.
Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng, who is also behind Google's deep learning and AI programme Google Brain, teaches a machine learning course on the platform, which is perpetually in high demand.
Udacity, which has been focusing on AI for a long time, has announced a dedicated "School of AI".
"Our 8,000 plus AI nanodegree program graduates represent nearly 3 percent of the world’s estimated 300,000 AI engineers," said Ishan Gupta, Managing Director- Udacity, India.
Demand from beyond metros
Aeon Learning, the parent company of online skills platform Acadgild, which offers courses on emerging technologies, has also seen the demand for its AI and deep learning-related Masters programme go up.
While the IT-heavy cities and regions- Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and other metros see the highest number of people wanting to take these courses, there is also a spike in demand from the tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
"Courses like Android Development and Data Analytics are most popular in these regions. Big Data courses also seem to have been gaining popularity in tier 2/3 cities," said Karthik Kadampully, co-founder and CEO at Aeon Learning.Similarly, Udacity said it sees tier-2 and 3 cities as promising new markets. "We already see impressive traction from these markets, and the most popular courses for them are the Python Foundation Nanodegree, Machine Learning Foundation Nanodegree, and Data Analyst Nanodegree programmes," said Udacity's Gupta.