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May 6, 2024

India’s AI Talent Gap: Fewer Than 2,000 Engineers Equipped for Core AI Development

India’s emergence as a hub for artificial intelligence (AI) adoption is undeniable, with firms investing significantly in AI training for their workforce. However, despite the massive scale of AI skill development initiatives, there remains a glaring talent gap in the realm of core AI product development.

Data from specialist staffing firm Xpheno reveals that India has fewer than 2,000 senior AI engineers capable of building core AI products and services. This figure starkly contrasts with the 650,000-700,000 individuals trained in AI by leading tech companies, as reported by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom).

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys are among the frontrunners in AI skill enhancement, with TCS training 350,000 employees and Infosys training eight out of its ten employees for AI tasks. Despite these efforts, the number of active senior AI engineers proficient in developing core AI products remains critically low.

According to a report by Moneycontrol, the total number of active individuals possessing the necessary skills, experience, and exposure to core AI is under 21,000, with a significant portion comprising emerging AI engineers.

Jagdish Mitra, a board member of the National Skill Development Corporation, emphasized the need for specialized AI skills tailored to specific processes, applications, and industries. Mass market AI training, he believes, falls short in providing the valuable expertise needed for impactful AI utilization.

Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president at Nasscom, highlights the widening gap between the demand for AI talent and the available specialized skills. The demand for AI talent is projected to increase by 15% annually, with a current demand-supply gap of approximately 51% for skills crucial to advancing core AI capabilities.

Prasadh MS, head of workforce research at Xpheno, anticipates a surge in the adoption of GenAI and AI overall in India. However, he notes that the core engineering of AI remains concentrated in niche talent pools outside India, with only minor footprints in the country.

Krishna Vij, business head-IT staffing at TeamLease Digital, observes that IT companies are heavily investing in AI training, willing to allocate specific budgets and offer higher salaries to attract the right talent for AI roles.

In conclusion, while India’s strides in AI adoption are commendable, there is an urgent need to bridge the talent gap in core AI development. Specialized training programs focusing on industry-specific skills and processes are crucial to meet the growing demand for AI talent and propel India’s position as a global AI powerhouse.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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