by Kayla Matthews, tech journalist and writer

India is struggling to fill its artificial intelligence (AI) jobs. That’s the conclusion of a report published by Great Learning, an education company that polled 28,000 people in 3,000 Indian organizations.

The research found that there are more than 50,000 unfilled positions related to data science and machine learning — a subset of AI. Analytics Vidhya, an online data science community, also contributed to the research.

According to Hari Krishnan Nair, the co-founder of Great Learning, the main reason for the skills gap is that the technology industry is changing so fast that even people who studied tech at the university level may not have the capabilities that companies need most. If they graduated a while ago, the things people learned in school are now outdated.

Some industries rely on AI more than others
Another concerning conclusion from the report is that some industries are especially affected by the skills gap. The banking and finance industry is the biggest market for data and analytics jobs. In 2017, 44 percent of the created positions for data and analytics professionals came from that sector. E-commerce and health care typically need such experts too.

A recent Brookings Institution report showed that in addition to a growing investment in AI around the world, there’s an increase in India. More specifically, there has been a $150 million investment in Indian AI projects across the past five years. However, the country lags in private-sector AI investments, and closing the skills gap could conquer that problem.

A September 2018 press release from Gartner revealed that 75 percent of the chief information officers (CIOs) in India focus on designing, delivering and scaling through digital business advancements. Of those three things, the primary aim is scaling, and the CIOs plan to achieve that goal by investing in both established and emerging technologies.

The Gartner report continued to say that machine learning is one of the three technologies that will have a transformational effect on India, according to Pankaj Prasad, a principal research analyst. However, Prasad mentions that there is limited user adoption due to a lack of understanding of the technology.

If more people in the job market received educations that catered to the modern needs of the workforce, it would be easier for companies to hire well-qualified people to fill these positions concerning newer technologies.

AI will have an all-encompassing impact
Individuals who have expert-level knowledge about AI mention that it will help companies cut costs and solve problems, plus allow them to invest in or create technologies such as self-driving cars. So the skills gap is especially problematic for businesses that want to stay competitive. If their employees do not understand new technologies, it’ll be difficult to succeed in the marketplace.

Also, different research from Tencent, the Chinese tech giant, highlights how the skills gap isn’t severe only in India. The study it released says that there are only 300,000 AI professionals in the world, although millions of jobs requiring such expertise exist. These findings indicate how crucial it is to tackle the skills gap by changing the ways people get educated.

Employers could make supplementary learning options more appealing by paying the course fees as an employee benefit. Moreover, they could offer automatic pay increases for people who finish AI or data analytics courses. Since those skills are in such high demand, the jobs requiring the knowledge often have base salaries of at least several hundred thousand dollars.

Additionally, the educational institutions involved in training current students who are studying IT subjects must make sure their curriculums have thorough coverage of AI, data science and similar topics. When those establishments appear at education or career fairs, it’s ideal if representatives specifically appeal to people who may be interested in learning about such technologies.

There is not one thing that will solve the skills gap in India or elsewhere. Rather, it will be necessary for a collective effort to occur and for it to continue over the long-term.

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