India’s AI/ML talent surges by 30%, traditional roles decline

India’s employment landscape sees a surge in AI/ML talent in all sectors. The surge in demand reflects the growing relevance of AL-driven technologies in various sectors, leading to the creation of new job roles and opportunities

The employment landscape in India is undergoing a significant transformation, with technological advancements paving the way for new opportunities and challenges. As highlighted in the recent India Employment Report 2024, jointly released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Institute of Human Development (IHD), youth unemployment remains a pressing concern. However there is still potential to address unemployment and create sustainable pathways for economic growth by leveraging AI.

According to data presented by staffing firm Randstad, the demand for AI and Machine Learning (ML) roles has been steadily increasing, with a growth rate of 30% annually since the pandemic. It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 professionals skilled in AI/ML in India. This surge in demand reflects the growing relevance of AI-driven technologies in various sectors, creating new job roles and opportunities.

Data from talent solutions at professional services firm Aon highlights the lucrative nature of AI and ML roles, with salaries substantially higher than those of other digital tech roles. Salaries for AI/ML professionals with 0-5 years of experience range between Rs 14 lakh and Rs 26 lakh, significantly higher than those of other digital tech roles.

Rohit Kishore, Randstad’s global delivery and talent officer, emphasized integrating AI and ML into the core of digital transformation initiatives within organizations. Implementing AI and ML technologies has demonstrated significant potential in automating processes and enhancing productivity, thereby driving economic growth.

The big gap

Despite the opportunities in AI and ML job roles, challenges persist in addressing youth unemployment in India. The India Employment Report 2024 indicates that more than 80% of the unemployed workforce comprises youth, with structural changes in the economy offering potential employment opportunities, particularly in non-farm sectors such as machinery manufacturing and computer programming.

Bridging the gap between supply and demand for skilled workers still remains a key challenge. The mismatch between the skills acquired by the workforce and the requirements of employers underscores the need for targeted skill development initiatives. The digital economy is expected to add an estimated 6.4 million jobs for youth by 2030. However, addressing the digital skills gap and ensuring inclusive access to digital literacy are crucial steps in harnessing the potential of technological advancements for employment generation.

The emergence of the platform or gig economy further underscores the changing nature of work. While offering new economic opportunities, particularly for youth, the gig economy also presents challenges related to informal work arrangements and a lack of social protection mechanisms. Addressing disparities in access to digital skills and promoting inclusive participation in the digital landscape is essential for ensuring equitable opportunities for all segments of society.

In light of the shifting dynamics of the job market and the increasing importance of technological competencies, upskilling has emerged as a critical strategy for both individuals and enterprises in India. According to a 2023 Skill Report, 88% of Indians recognize the significance of upskilling in ensuring job security and future-proofing their careers. 

This sentiment underscores a growing awareness among the workforce about the need to continuously enhance their skills to remain competitive in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. With the rise of online learning platforms and e-learning technologies, individuals now have access to courses tailored to their interests and career aspirations, facilitating the pursuit of lifelong learning. 

The practical approach by enterprises

Enterprises, too, are increasingly acknowledging the imperative of investing in the training and upskilling of their workforce. Companies are taking measures to support their employee development by recognizing the importance of upskilling in enhancing workforce productivity and adaptability to technological advancements. This includes conducting regular internal training sessions, allocating individual training budgets, and facilitating access to external training programs. 

By prioritizing upskilling initiatives, enterprises can foster a culture of learning and innovation and strengthen their competitive edge in a rapidly evolving business landscape. Additionally, catering to the career growth aspirations of different age groups, such as Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, through flexible learning and development strategies can help organizations retain top talent and mitigate attrition, thereby ensuring long-term sustainability and success.

In conclusion, leveraging technological advancements, particularly in AI and ML, presents significant opportunities for addressing youth unemployment and driving economic growth in India. However, collective efforts are needed to bridge the skills gap, promote inclusive access to digital literacy, and address challenges associated with the evolving nature of work. 

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