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Upskilling key to meeting demand for AI and big data analytics talent

Reports suggest there is a huge gap in the supply and demand of AI and BDI family of jobs. One of the reasons could be data science not being taught in many universities.

Jul 19, 2019, 11.23 AM IST
A data scientist’s role is the fifth top emerging job in India.
HYDERABAD/BENGALURU: An exhaustive Nasscom-Zinnov report released last year flags a huge talent demand-supply gap in the artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics (BDA) family of jobs.

By 2021, the total AI and BDA job openings in India is estimated to go up by 2,30,000. But the fresh employable talent or university talent available will be just 90,000, leaving a huge gap of 1,40,000. “With the world moving towards being a data- and analytics-driven platform, to have a data scientist is highly important for each corporate,” says Kalyan Muppaneni, chairman and CEO of Pi Datacenters, an Andhra Pradesh based IT & services firm that delivers futuristic data centre and enterprise cloud services.

“But to find relevant data scientists, with real world experience, is very difficult. This may be because data science is still not a curriculum in most universities,” he says.

A report by LinkedIn last year pegged a data scientist’s role as the fifth top emerging job in India. “The demand for data scientists is increasing significantly across all types of companies — GCCs (global capability centres of MNCs in India), startups, IT-BPM companies, and other enterprises. Additionally, an increase in global demand for these skills is also expected to reflect across organisations in India,” the report says.

The talent dearth emphasises two factors: The importance of having continuous career, learning programmes, and ensuring adequate skilling before fresh talent moves to the job market.

“The data and AI domain is growing rapidly. A large number of experienced professionals (midcareer techies) are upskilling themselves and this trend is set to continue for a while, since the skill gap shows no signs of being closed any time soon,” says Anand Narayanan, chief product officer at edtech firm Simplilearn.

A Nasscom report identifies mid-career professionals as an adjacent talent pool — a large segment of talent supply that can be trained to work on AI and big data analytics. “Talent adept in software development, databases, and other relevant skills, despite lacking direct AI and big data analytics capabilities, can be upskilled to the desired roles,” it says.

Prof Kamal Karlapalem, head of the data science and analytics centre at IIIT-Hyderabad, says companies such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are providing commodity software for easing the development and deployment of data science solutions. Education for data science, he says, will move towards training on commodity software, and domain comprehension for specialised analytics. “What SQL was forty years back, commodity data analytics systems is now,” he says.
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