AINews & Analysis

AI Skills Gap And Why India Needs to Act Fast, Says IDC

IDC report finds AI/ML to be the most critical technology skill that Indian organizations plan to acquire in the next six months


As businesses become digitized and automated, the demand for new AI-capable tech talent across all industry verticals is on the rise. The problem is that there is a vast AI skills shortage, especially in a country like India, which otherwise produces thousands of IT professionals every year.

A new IDC report finds artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) to be the most critical technology skill that Indian organizations plan to acquire in the next six months – but how they can reduce the AI skills gap is indeed a million-dollar question.

The report is based on the findings of the ‘IDC’s Future Enterprise Resiliency and Spending Survey, and examines overall skill gaps and organizations skill development plans in India.

“About 76% of respondents stated that lack of skill sets in employees’ impacts customer experience or customer satisfaction and profit growth,” says Rishu Sharma, Associate Research Director, Cloud and AI at IDC India. For example, the study found that about 74% of the enterprises stated that lack of skill impedes overall innovation.

According to the study, about 30% of organizations plan to focus on AI/ML as the key areas to hire or reskill their workforce in the next six months and about 50% of respondents find it significantly difficult to develop softer, non-technical skills in the next six months.

The top six most demanding AI jobs are machine learning engineer, robotics scientist, business intelligence developer, software developer and AI research scientist. The demand for such jobs is high because there is a lack of readily qualified people in the country. Hence, such positions also command a premium salary.

Enterprises, therefore, should identify skill shortages and target areas that should undergo skill enhancement. While technology skills such as AI, ML, and cloud become critically important for organizations to target new revenue opportunities, enterprises are becoming aware of employee reskilling and upskilling.

“Businesses should start with creating awareness about training programs within the workforce, including LOBs and IT.  A training program should include comprehensive technology skills. Organizations must start with relatively small training investments, and should examine outcomes to understand how well skill development initiatives are working,” says Swapnil Shende Senior Market Analyst, Artificial Intelligence at IDC India.

The study noted that tech professionals must be willing to embrace change and develop their digital skills. By being proactive and taking control of their learning, they will make great strides in their career progression. Further, continuous learning will enhance their job transitioning prospects to newer posts, either within the same organization or a new one.

Also, to address the skills gap in the workplace, organizations should provide their IT workforce with personalized learning to go as far as their skills, ambition, and imagination take them. In short, they should democratize learning. Learning and development leaders must also recognize that learners are getting it hard to find time for their learning in today’s work setup.

And it is not just AI skills that are a challenge for companies. In fact a recent Nasscom study points to the fact that India’s IT sector is facing a talent crunch for niche digital skills despite the demand for digital transformation deals are rising in the post-covid era. IT firms are witnessing a 30% growth in digital deals, an 80% jump in cloud spending and a 15% rise in customer experience spending since the coronavirus outbreak, according to the IT industry’s apex body.

Reskilling workforces can only help them in staying ahead of the technology adoption curve, meet changing business demands, and customer expectations,” Sharma says.

However, with limited time left to move ahead in the race, the analyst firm recommends organizations to bring in new tools that will enable the learners to access content more readily to adapt and evolve, develop new skills and capabilities in areas like AI, machine learning and robotics.


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